Prepare the job interviewing process
1. Create an interview scorecard
After each job interview, organize your findings into an interview scorecard. This helps job interviewers score an applicant's interview in a consistent way, allowing for a fair comparison of candidates. And avoiding hiring bias is what it’s all about, really.
Job interview scorecard essentials
Based on your job brief, create a scorecard. Use this simple tool to score all candidates on skills, values, motivation and anything else that’s relevant to the job. Make sure to include all stages of your interview process (including assignments and interview rounds) on your interview scorecard, so you have a bird’s-eye view of all your team's findings when you compare candidates
Note: Don't use your interview scorecard during the interview—that's where the interview checklist comes in. More about that below.
2. Create an interview checklist
Now that you have your interview scorecard, it's time for the interview checklist. This simple list includes everything you need to cover during the interview, including specific job interview questions.
This is where you can write notes on the candidate and what you use when filling in the scorecard after the interview. Even though you have a checklist, there should be more than enough room for spontaneity during the interview. It’s the best of both worlds!
Job interview checklist
Things you might want to include in your job interview checklist:
- Introduction to the company
Organisational structure, mission, vision, strategy
- The desired skillset for the position
Job requirements, responsibilities, hopes for the future
- Specific job interview questions about the areas above
For inspiration on job interviewing questions, have a look here
- What the candidate journey looks like
Who on your team conducts the interviews? How many interviews will you have? Is there an assignment?
Salary expectations, possible start date, perks and benefits
- Next steps
Are there other candidates? What is the hiring time frame?
The questions you ask candidates in interviews depends a lot on the role you’re hiring for. Check out our handy job interview question templates for role-specific questions.
What questions should I ask in a job interview?
People often ask us which questions they should ask during a job interview. Our response is always the same: there’s no perfect question, as the situation is totally different for each job. A web developer’s skills and background are completely different from a communications expert, so hone in on what makes each of them tick.
Do's and Don'ts
Here are some things to keep in mind though:
• Ask open-ended questions
Questions that cannot be answered with a simple Yes or No.
Make people think. Get more out of people.
• Don’t ask questions with an answer in it
Instead of, “Do you have experience with marketing tools such as Google Analytics?” Try, "Which marketing tools do you have experience using?"
Pro-tip: Question techniques (STAR)
There are lots of question techniques out there that claim to help you find out whether the candidate possesses specific skills that you’re after. To help you find out, we like the STAR technique for job interviews.
What’s the STAR job interview technique?
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This strategy can be helpful in response to competency-focused questions around a situation. Here’s what that looks like in action:
“Tell me about a disagreement with a coworker or manager.”
“Tell us what your responsibility was in that situation example.”
“Tell us how you completed the task or overcame the challenge.”
“Finally, tell us about the outcomes or results generated by your actions.”
Note: This model is very well-known, so feel free to tweak it and make it your own. By giving STAR your own spin, your questions will be more interesting and engaging, and you’ll look like you’ve put more research into the interview too.
3. Brief your hiring team
For those of you new to hiring: your hiring team is the group of people in your team responsible for successfully hiring a new team member. They're involved in the recruiting, job interviewing and overall selection process.
Facing a panel of people in an interview can be really intimidating, so our advice is to avoid having an interview team of more than two of your team members.
It's important to carefully select the two team members who will conduct the interview. Invite at least one team member who’ll work closely with the future hire, ideally a team lead or a senior team member. That way they can get to know their potential future teammate and ask insightful questions. They should also expect to be asked similar insightful questions from the candidate in return!
Share the interview checklist with the interviewers you’ve chosen and make sure they know how to use the interview scorecard you’ve created.
4. Set a location
Pick an interview location that matches your company values and the job opening. We know some companies let the candidate choose the location for the first interview and others who love to do their interviews in a café — it’s completely up to you. Just make sure you choose a place that makes you feel comfortable and that it reflects well on your company. If all this sounds a bit unusual, not to worry! Hosting the interview at your office works just as well. It may sound obvious, but don't forget to make sure to offer candidates coffee, water and tea.
If your company is fully remote or hybrid, finding a physical interview location might not be relevant to your company. But it’s still important to make sure your candidates are able to attend the interview. Whether that’s a phone call or video call, make sure you’ve sent them the correct phone number, meeting link and password for the call. You should also include any other resources that might be helpful (for example: instructions for how to use your video interview software, if applicable).
5. Make room for a 'loop champion'
Sometimes you meet a candidate for the first time and you're convinced they’re right person for your team. If you're confident enough in your gut feeling to vouch for this candidate, that makes you the “loop champion”. From now on you're the hiring manager for this specific interview loop. This means that you will be available throughout the interview process to make the candidate feel safe and welcome.
The loop champion makes sure that:
- Communication with the candidate is smooth
- Promises are kept
- The candidate knows what to do and what to expect throughout the hiring process
If this sounds like a lot, don't worry—not every hiring process needs a loop champion. Only make room for one when you're especially enthusiastic!
6. Start with a phone screen interview
Most of the job interview experts we’ve talked to about how to interview someone recommended to always start with quick phone interview. The phone screen happens before interview invitation emails are sent for the first face-to-face interview.
In a short call (15-20 minutes is enough) ask the candidate for a brief personal and professional introduction. You should also ask for their salary expectations. This ensures that both the candidate and the employer are on the same page before they (potentially) meet and continue in the job interview process.
Here are a few other topics we suggest discussing during the phone screen interview:
- What this role entails
- What type of role the candidate is looking for
- What sort of company the candidate would like to work at
- The candidate’s experience and expectations
- Salary preference
📣 Up your interview game and ask these remote interview questions to help you find the right team member
Prepare your team for job interviews
It's a great idea to introduce the interview process to your team. Show them your interview scorecard, how to use it, explain what to look out for during an interview and explain the importance of semi-structured interviews. Remember, the more structured, the less biased your hiring will be.
7. Promote the company
You want a candidate who’s excited about the possibility of joining your awesome team. Help them get there by sharing the values and vision that make your company unique. Nobody knows these better than you and your team.
Share concrete examples of why someone would enjoy working at your company. For example, maybe your company puts a strong focus on helping team members balance their work life and their personal life. Mention that! You should also keep in mind that for many people choosing to apply somewhere is also an emotional choice. So make sure they have an authentic impression of your company culture.
8. Don’t influence each other
The interview team shouldn't share their opinions, notes or interview scorecards with each other until they’ve documented their findings in your hiring software. You can do this when you use a tool like Homerun. This will help make sure your team members don’t unintentionally influence each other’s opinions.
9. Try and avoid bias
We’re all human, which means we all come with our biases. The first step to avoiding bias is to acknowledge it.
To stay as neutral as possible during the interview process, identify what your biases are in advance and try to be constantly conscious of them. It helps to keep an eye on your scorecard so you don’t lose focus or go off track.
Another way to avoid bias is to always back up your opinion with rational and factual statements when discussing candidates and their qualities with your colleagues. Not only will this make you sure about your gut feeling (or not), but it will help your colleagues in their decision.
Most common job interview biases
- 🤝 First-impression error: Allowing an initial judgment of a candidate — good or bad — to affect one’s feedback or decision.
- 🧑🤝🧑 Groupthink: Allowing the opinions of others — good or bad — to affect one’s feedback or decision.
- 😖 Halo-horn effect: Allowing one strength or weakness of a candidate to affect the overall feedback or decision, rather than thinking holistically.
Prepare the candidate for the job interview
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Job interviews are a scary process for a lot of candidates. When your candidate is at ease, you’ll get a better and more accurate impression of them as a potential team member. The best way to do this is to give your candidate a wonderful experience during your hiring process.
Follow these steps after you've selected the candidates for the first round of interviews.
10. Share place & time
Make sure the candidate knows when and where the job interview will take place and what they can expect from the job interview. Explain the process and cover how many interview stages there will be, right from the get-go. Giving candidates all the information they need ahead of the interview will help put them at ease, allowing them to be their best on the day of the job interview. If you need to cancel the interview, be sure to do so well in advance.
Here’s what information we suggest sharing with candidates before their interview:
- Who they’ll be having the interview with (feel free to link to your team members’ LinkedIn profiles to give candidates even more information)
- What topics you’ll be covering during the interview so they can prepare in advance
- How long the interview will last
11. Give some homework
Preparation is a good idea for both the candidate and the interviewer! What this will be depends on which stage of the interview process you're at. At the very start, you might just ask the candidate to do some reading on your business, so send any applicable pages from your website, along with any other relevant good reads.
If you want to get a real sense of their talent, send them a small task in advance of the interview — but make sure it matches the job type and that it doesn’t ask too much of the candidate.
For example, at Homerun we always ask people to create a free demo account to make them familiar with our product. At a later stage of the process you may decide to add a more detailed (and demanding) assignment.