Manager's Toolkit Interview with Managers (and others)
Once the pool of candidates to be interviewed is agreed upon, manager interviews are scheduled. Depending on the number of interviewees and interviewers, scheduling may occur through Human Resources or through the hiring department. Most interviews typically take one hour; if there are multiple interviewers or a panel of interviewers, an interview may last longer. Attempts should also be made to not have two candidates on campus at the same time (or at the very least, every attempt should be made so that they do not come in contact with one another). This can be awkward for both candidate and hiring department.
Because only one person will ultimately be offered a job, the reality of that fact is that many people will be disappointed. It is not unusual for a rejected applicant to call to complain or seek information about our decision process. Though we are not legally obligated to provide details to applicants we do need to be sure that our decisions are defensible. Therefore, it is desirable for on-going communication (for other than scheduling appointments) to be coordinated by Human Resources. This provides consistency in what is being said to candidates and further relieves the hiring manager.
Hiring managers have the following responsibilities and opportunities during an interview:
- To understand the candidate’s skills and experiences
- To determine if there is a fit with the department and position
- To confirm fit at Westmont, and support of the Statement of Faith and Community Life Statement
- To determine if there is a fit with the candidate’s wage expectations, the position pay range, and budget availability
- To present a realistic description of the position and of the College
- Ensure that all applicants have been treated fairly, and with respect
- To select a great candidate!
A successful and effective interview occurs when a candidate is able to walk away from their interview thinking it was a good experience, that they have a good understanding of the position and its requirements, and that they were well treated. As a manager, you want to walk away from the interview believing you have an accurate picture of the candidate’s fit at Westmont, their professional experiences and character, and what kind of fit they would have (or not) in your department.
As you prepare for the interview, the following may be helpful to you:
Before the Interview:
- Know what time/where the applicant is meeting you, if you need to meet them at another office, etc, and be on time
- Review the applicant’s materials before the interview note areas of interest, areas of concern, “holes” in employment history, etc. that you will want to follow up on in the interview.
- Have enough uninterrupted time to hold the interview
Conducting the Interview:
Because the interview process can be stressful for both the interviewer and the interviewee, try to put the person at ease as soon as they enter the room. You will get the best idea of the applicant’s abilities and personality if they feel comfortable.
- Greet the candidate and introduce yourself and anyone else who will be involved in the interview.
- Listen carefully and take notes
- Ask follow-up questions. Don’t just follow a script. Don’t be afraid to engage
- Minimize distractions
- Clarify the candidate’s answers if necessary; if you need more information, ask.
- Ask questions that will facilitate discussion. Avoid questions requiring only a yes or no answer. Keep the questions open-ended so that the applicant has the opportunity to speak freely
- Ask only job-related questions. Steer clear of personal, private and discriminatory questions. (A chart of Acceptable v. Unacceptable interview questions and topics is provided as a resource at the bottom of this page).
- Be consistent. It may be helpful to ask the same/similar questions to all candidates so you can have an accurate comparison
- Avoid leading questions – posing questions to get an answer you’d like to hear
Areas to Cover:
- The candidate’s background, work experience, and education
- Ask the candidate about their pay expectations, and discuss the pay range with the candidate.
- Assess how the candidate would fit with Westmont’s culture. Ask what they know about Westmont. (This can be a lead-in the “spiritual fit” kinds of questions).
See the Interview Questions Bank resource below for a wide variety of potential questions.
To end the interview, thank candidates for their time and ask the candidate if they have any questions about the position or employment at Westmont. Candidates may ask additional questions around specific aspects of the position and on employment conditions such as schedule, culture and department atmosphere. Answer such questions as frankly as possible. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it is fine to tell candidates that you need to research the answer and get back to them.
When closing the interview, you may also want to:
- Ask about the candidate’s timing.
- Ask if those listed on the application may be contacted for references.
- Let them know what the hiring process will be going forward, and the timeline for decision making, if there is one
- Explain how to get in touch with you and when to expect to hear from you or Human Resources
- Walk the candidate to the door and thank them for the interview.
Such steps can ensure the applicant is left with a positive impression of you, your department, and Westmont.
Interview with Managers (and others) Resources
- Interview Questions Database
- Acceptable and Unacceptable Interview Questions and Topics
- Books available in HR's Manager's Library:
- Ron Fry's Ask the Right Questions, Hire the Best People
- Cathy Frock's The Truth about Hiring the Best
- Steve Pogorzelskia, et al's Finding Keepers
- Victoria Hoevemeyer's High Impact Interview Questions
- Pat McMillan's Hiring Excellence--Six Steps to Make Good People Decisions