Interviewing employees

Once you have completed the screening process, you will need to make arrangements to interview the applicants. The objectives of the interview are to:

  • Gather information about the candidates and identify how well their competencies and experience match the company’s requirements
  • Provide candidates with information about the role, the company and the company’s expectations
  • Allow both parties to make an informed decision about the possible fit between the company and the applicant

Planning for the interview

  • Ensure that key stakeholders are involved in the interview process, including someone who can assess any technical requirements. This includes providing them with a copy of the position description, resumé and interview assessment form for review prior to the actual interview.
  • Prepare relevant questions based on the position description. Ensure that the questions do not violate those areas deemed discriminatory under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  • Determine framework for candidate assessments.
  • Determine the type of interview—one-on-one or panel (if panel format, identify who will direct the meeting and who will ask what questions).
  • Book a space that is conducive to privacy and free from interruptions.
  • Allow enough time to ensure that both parties get the information they need.

Types of interview questions

There are three basic categories of interview questions:

  1. Close-ended questions: They require a yes/no response (e.g., “Are you able to work overtime on a regular basis?”) or a factual response (e.g., “Who did you report to in this position?”). Keep these types of questions to a minimum.
  2. Open-ended questions: They require the candidate to provide more detail. They allow you to see how well the candidate communicates relevant information (e.g., “Tell me about a time…”). These questions require the interviewer to actively listen, seek out additional details and ask follow-up questions.
  3. Hypothetical/behaviour-based questions: Ask the candidate to determine what they would do in a realistic situation. These questions help you to evaluate their judgment and decision-making skills.

Conducting the interview

A proper interview should include the following steps:

  • Opening—develop rapport to put applicant at ease, and encourage confidence and open communication (advise applicant that you will be taking notes)
  • Agenda—describe how the interview will unfold
  • Prepared questions—probe for additional information as necessary
  • Overview of company, job requirements, and expectations
  • Answer applicant’s questions
  • Closing

Common interview mistakes

Try to avoid making the following common interview mistakes:

  • Talking too much and not allowing the applicant to provide relevant information
  • Losing control of the interview and allowing the candidate to take the interview in a direction that may not be relevant
  • Not asking all candidates the same question, which can interfere with making valid comparisons
  • Accepting general answers and failing to probe for the information you need to make a valid assessment
  • Making snap judgments about a candidate based on personal biases
  • Relying on memory instead of taking notes during the interview

After the interview

Complete the interview assessment form. Meet with stakeholders to review and discuss the interview assessments. Identify areas that may need to be thoroughly investigated as part of performing reference checks. Depending on the position, it may be useful to conduct pre-employment testing. However, any pre-employment testing must be directly related to the candidate’s ability to perform the essential tasks of the position.

Useful Templates


Butteriss, M. (1999).Help Wanted: The Complete Guide to Human Resources for Canadian Entrepreneurs. Toronto: John Wiley& Sons.

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