Interviewer Material Review

Before participating in a session, interviewers should review the following:

  1. An interviewer's guide that explains how your organization approached interviewing in general and any job-specific details
  2. Job analysis outputs, including competencies, competency definitions, and questions.
  3. Individual rating forms with positive and negative evaluation indicators.

Establishing a Host for the Interview

There should be more than one interviewer in each session, and one person should serve as the host. The host doesn't necessarily have any seniority over other interviewers, but they have a few extra responsibilities in administering the session.

The host will:

  • Greet the candidate, thanking them for their time and indicating the duration of the interview.
  • If you don't already have the candidate's pronouns, you could request those as well as pronunciation if there is any uncertainty
  • Introduce themselves with pronouns and pronunciation (if helpful) and invite other interviewers to do the same with an emphasis on how the roles of interviewers relate to the open job role
  • Provide a brief overview of the structure of the meeting. Essentially, that the questions were predetermined, that the interviewers will alternate asking questions, and including the number of questions and the time allocated for each response.
  • Indicate if the interviewers seem a little distracted, it is only because they are taking notes, not doing other work
  • Let the candidate know they will have time for their questions
  • Letting the candidate know they can take a break at any time
  • Asking the candidate if they have any questions about the process
  • Asking the candidate if they are ready to begin and formally begin the interview

Example script:

Hi Azrazel, thank you so much for meeting with us today for this hour-long interview. Can you pronounce your name once for us? We want to get it right today. ... Okay, thanks! As-razz-el—got it! We have many questions for you today and hope to learn a lot about your skills and experiences. First, a bit about us: my name is Smurfette, and I am the communications director. The communications director is a peer to the role you are interviewing for today. My pronouns are she/her/hers. This is my colleague, Brainy Smurf. Can you tell us about your role here?
Thanks, Brainy! So, we will be alternating asking questions today. There are six questions, and you will have five minutes for each response, leaving us fifteen minutes to answer your questions at the end. If we seem a little distracted in this meeting, it is because we are taking detailed notes; we assure you we will pay close attention. Feel free to request a break if you need one at any point; we might do the same. Do you have any questions about the process before we begin?
Very good—let's get started. Brainy, would you like to ask the first question?

Maintaining Order During the Interview

Occasionally the host may need to make a polite and tactful interruption to keep the interview on track. This typically occurs when an answer is unusually long or the topic interview starts going off-topic.

Sample interruptions:

So sorry to interrupt you! From what you have said, we have learned a lot. Let's get to the next question, as there are a few more topics we were hoping to cover today.

That's a very interesting question! Let's note that, and we will return to this at the next part of the interview, where we will answer this and any other questions you may have.

Always Make a Good Impression

Interviewer conduct impacts how the world thinks about your organization. Remember, candidates may also be customers or impacted parties, and their impression matters regardless of the interview's outcome. For example, a candidate who doesn't get the role you are interviewing for today could do very well in an interview for a different position tomorrow.

Especially when a candidate is doing poorly, maintaining a positive and welcoming demeanor is essential. Chances are, the candidate knows they could do better; maintaining optimism in your tone or body language can improve the experience for all parties.

Sometimes in an interview, it helps to positively acknowledge a poor answer to maintain the session's pace. Although if you go overboard with this, a candidate may need clarification when they are not selected. One way of doing this is through mirroring, which shows that you were attentive without necessarily affirming quality.

For example:

Thank you for that response; that was an interesting point about database queries. <other interviewer> Do you want to ask the next question?

What Not to Ask

There is a long list of inappropriate topics that you should cover in an interview. However, if you stick to the prepared questions, you will be fine.

If there is a policy about probing questions, ensure you abide by it.

As for the list, interviewers should never ask questions about or make comments about a candidate's: age, gender, race, nation of origin, religion, marital or familial status, disabilities or health status, or any other job-irrelevant topic.

Taking Notes

Interviewers should take detailed notes regarding each answer while striving to make eye contact when possible. Notes serve many purposes; for example, if there were any challenges regarding the process, notes demonstrate the level of rigor and fairness. More commonly, though, notes get reviewed to support hiring decisions, especially when there are a few highly-scored candidates.

Notes should:

  • Summarize the content of the responses
  • Be professional and non-judgmental
  • Be of sufficient quality to justify the ratings

Notes should not:

  • Be evaluative statements about the candidate, their responses, or their personality
  • Refer to demographic characteristics of the candidate

Here is an example note:

Job: Website Developer

Question: In your current role, what have you done to ensure low-vision users can find information on the website you built?

Competency: Accessibility technology

Competency Definition: Familiarity with approaches to evaluate and correct accessibility issues that make websites hard for visitors who use assistive technology or have low vision.

Note: The candidate described their experience advocating for usability testing for their company website. They observed that the website was not accessible by using the screenreader feature of their operating system. Their approach was to surface this in planning meetings. The outcome was that the company hired specialists to evaluate the current state. The issue still needs to be resolved, but it is under active review.