How NOT to Interview


By Janna Steinthorson, CHRP

I always thought interviewing was the easiest part of my position.  Other than understanding the role and how it affects the department, I thought it was fairly easy to throw together some questions and set up the interviews.  Not quite.  The pitfalls are many and common.  

Have you ever really stepped back and looked at your recruiting process from the outside?  Are there any gaps?

I’m sure every recruiter at one point has looked at the list of applicants and thought, “Yikes!  That person won’t be a great fit for this role.  We’ll have to tailor the questions to see if they are fully qualified.”  I definitely do not recommend this approach, as it could be interpreted that you trying to discriminate against your candidates, particularly in a unionized environment.  

The best approach to non-biased interview questions is to create them before the position is posted and you know who your applicants are.  Make sure your questions fully encompass all the qualifications and skills needed for the position before posting.  This way, you aren’t creating a perceived bias.  You can always asking probing questions to clarify.

When creating interview questions, be sure that they are relevant to the job being performed.  If it doesn’t relate to the job description, you shouldn’t be asking it. Again, this is especially important in a unionized environment.  If you use the word “recent” in your questions, it had better be in the job description.  If you use the word “equivalent” you should have a clear definition of what you would consider to be “equivalent.”

Also consider who will be doing the interviewing.  Is it one person or a panel?  If it’s just one person (either the HR rep or the supervisor), do they have a good understanding of the role, questions that can and can’t be asked, etc.?  If it’s a panel, make certain that the panel will be the same for all interviews.  If you have people stepping in and out for different interviews, you won’t be maintaining consistency and have a clear decision.

Hopefully these tips help you maintain uniformity in your interviewing process.  Have any tips of your own to share?  I am always recruiting fresh insights!

Janna Steinthorson, CHRP, is a Human Resources advisor with The City of Kamloops and a member of the Central Interior Advisory Council for BC HRMA.  Janna is a generalist with over six years of progressive Human Resources experience in both unionized and non-unionized environments.

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  1. Hi, Janna.

    You make good points here. I found the best way for me to prepare the right questions is to start at the end. That is, start by describing what abilities and attritbutes the successful applicant has. Then ask questions that will reveal if the applicant has the “stuff” I really want. The questions could also discover how much of that “stuff” they have. Without this, I might tend be swayed by a new set of skills that the applicant has that, although great skills, don’t really apply to the position.

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