How to interview for managers

If you are a Manager or your work involves the management or overseeing of people, you will one day need to interview people, and if you don't know what you are doing then you can scare the candidates off or worst, employ someone you shouldn't. So this post is a how to interview for managers guide. It has been written for anyone who interviews spasmodically and wants/needs some help.

What is an interview

Lets start with the basics. We all think we know what an interview is after all, we have been through plenty of them, but how would you define what an interview is?

At Recruitment School we define it this way.

An interview is the interaction between two (or more people); a conversation where questions are asked by both parties and questions provided in an attempt to assess suitability for employment.

There are some key elements to this description.

  • a conversation - it's a two-way conversation
  • questions are asked by both parties and questions provided - again the questions and answers by both parties

A workplace interview is not a one way conversation. Gone are the old days where the interviewer was in control. The candidates of today are very aware of their rights in an interview, so if you are one of those “old school” interviewers, you need to change - NOW!

Objective of an Interview

Before we launch into how to run an interview, let’s set an objective. Now obviously the objective of interviews will be different so we are setting a basic objective for all interviews. Your objective should be

Create an environment where the candidates feel comfortable enough to let you know things they wouldn’t normally tell others.

If you can do this, you will be able to elicit all the necessary information without coming across as threatening. If you come across threatening, then you will not get all that juicy information that candidates accidentally say when they feel very comfortable in an interview.

Interview Structure

So now that we know what an interview is and what our objective is, how do we structure an interview?

If you are new to interviewing, a structure is the best way to keep you on track. When you get lost (and you will), you can always rely on the structure to get you back on track. Here is a structure that works well for most interviews

how to interview - start with Small talk

This breaks the “ice”. It’s there simply to drop the barriers in the interview. Bring up things like,

  • any trouble finding us,
  • sports,
  • weather,
  • mode of transport,

anything that is not threatening and cannot be seen as part of the interview process.

how to interview - Set an agenda

Treat it like any business meeting. Set an agenda for the interview this gives the candidate all the information they need to know.

how to interview - Tell me your story

Time to let the candidate do some talking. You should have a copy of their CV in front of you. Say something like,

 I have a copy of your CV which is great, can you walk me through it please.

And ask them to do it in chronological order - first job to now.

how to interview - Mark items/areas of concern

On the CV mark areas of concern that you want to probe later.

how to interview - Probing

Now it’s time to get stuck in. In the industry we call it probing. This is where you explore some of what has been told to you. Use the areas of concern listed above as the starting block. When they are done, drill into other areas.

how to interview - Closing

So you have now finished your interview, now what? You need to close the interview and this in itself is an art.

You need to make sure you are managing the expectations of the candidate (if this topic is foreign to you, click here and have a look at our Managing Expectations Lesson - its critical to correct recruitment). You do not want the candidate leaving with the impression they are going to get an offer that afternoon - unless of course they are. If someone feels as if they are going to be offered a role, that can lead to a whole heap of pain and even legal issues. You want the candidate to leave having a realistic opinion of how they went and that in itself takes courage from your perspective during the interview.

It is imperative that you know how to run an interview. This article is a snippet from our "How to run an interview" training which you can find by clicking here. 

If you would like more information on this topic or any other topic associated with recruitment, don't hesitate to contact us via our website or Facebook Page where we would be happy to answer any questions for you.


Recruitment School builds brilliant recruiters through a combination of online self-paced and assisted training programs.

If you want to know more about how we can improve the efficiency of your recruitment function then contact us on 02 9119 2278 or click here to chat to us now


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