Interviewing techniques – top tips to recruit the best staff


We have already looked at how to stay out of hot water when you are interviewing.

It was about being careful of the language you used when asking questions, about the questions being relevant to the job, and about how to avoid the discriminatory traps that we often find ourselves hurtling towards without really trying, or meaning to.

So, now I want to share some top tips to help avoid those traps and to get the best out of an important, and yet often perceived as arduous, process. You have spent many hours painstakingly writing your advertisement, to then sift through often hundreds of CVS, and then sent out the emails/letters to invite the lucky few in to meet with you, and get the opportunity to change their lives by joining your organisation. So, based on more than 20 years of experience, I’ve found the following tips have served me well….

Once you’ve read the applicant’s application form or CV, the interview is the perfect opportunity for you to find out more detailed information about them. While I would recommend a question sheet of set questions, all delivered in the same manner, to all interviewees, I appreciate that can sometimes be difficult to stick to, depending on the answer from the interviewee.

If you’re conducting your interviews with the assistance of another colleague, it’s extremely important that they also know what questions are appropriate to ask. Please don’t assume that because you now know the types of questions to be cautious of, your colleague knows them too. We advise that you discuss these beforehand, maybe even send them the link to this article to help them.

A few more tips include:

Being prepared – It’s always wise to prepare a set of questions that are relevant to the role and you can always refer back to their CV or application form if needed. This adds some uniformity to the process and clarity.

Don’t make stereotypical assumptions – For example, if someone has a foreign-sounding name it doesn’t mean they aren’t eligible to work in the UK. And if they are ‘a slip of a girl’ don’t assume they cannot be as tough as old boots when required.

Remain objective – Make sure you consider all candidates objectively and not subjectively. It’s the old ‘halo and horns’ effect. You allow one strong point about the candidate to overshadow or have an effect on everything else. For instance if they look and sound like you, you will automatically prefer them, even if they may not be the best person for the job.

Keep notes – Keeping concise notes throughout the interview is always useful so you can refer back to these afterwards. It’s also worth keeping a record of why you rejected a candidate so your notes can be used in case any allegation of discrimination is made. However, be just as careful what you write. I had the misfortune to be actioning a Subject Access Request (where a member of staff can request full access and/or copy of personal information and their employment history) when I discovered the interview notes stated he ‘looked like Thing from the Adams Family’ in the top right hand corner of his CV. Luckily the member of staff found it funny, and it obviously had not deterred the company from employing him in the first place – but boy oh boy was it awkward! Therefore your notes must ALWAYS be non-discriminatory, so not only can you justify the reason you rejected a candidate, putting you in a stronger position to contest any discriminatory allegations, but you can also prevent such embarrassments.

And finally keep it relevant – Remember when asking any interview questions, always ask yourself – is this question relevant to the job?

So do you feel better prepared and able to stay of out of hot water when recruiting?

Many thanks to Kate Bagnall and Louise Hopkins of Bagnall Hopkins Recruitment who delivered the tips I have expanded on above at a recent jointly hosted event we held.

For further help and advice about HR issues or employee development contact us at or follow us on twitter @3domSolutions


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