Interviewing skills can be the make or break of effective recruitment. Managers should have strong capability in this arena, and that best comes from practice. There are some basics I’ll cover here that will help lead you to a better result in your employment interviewing.

The main objective of these interviews is to discover whether a given candidate represents what you require. That means, before the interview, you need to understand exactly what you require in terms of technical skills and competencies. I have discussed this in previous posts including ‘Culture-fit interviewing – how to get ready’ (

Once you can articulate what you seek, you then have to determine whether your interviewee has demonstrated, in their past roles, the skills you’re looking for and a repeating pattern of the behaviours you require for success in this role and in your business. I’ve said this numerous times before – the greatest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. If you can find a repeating pattern of the behaviours you want, there is a high likelihood that person will repeat those behaviours going forward.

Several questions can help you uncover patterns of behaviour. The important thing is to start at the beginning. Go back to their first role. Find out what caused them to make their early career decisions and what drove their early work habits and work ethic. This is also a good time to ‘norm’ the behaviours being displayed in the interview. As they describe their early years, briefly talk through their roles, achievements and mistakes. You will begin to see how they describe things and the non-verbals they use to support what they are saying. If their style and mannerisms change later in the interview, that can alert you to areas needing more investigation.

Unwrapping a repeating pattern of behaviour is not as difficult as it may sound. The important thing is to use a series of the same questions to look for the things people did and didn’t do, what they liked and disliked, how they worked, and what caused dissatisfaction. Then you begin to build an understanding of their modus operandi and how they will likely work within your organisation.

In any interview, it is important to take notes. Don’t focus on what is written in their resume but rather make notes on how they achieved results, what their preferences were and how they worked with others. Questions that can help, and should be compiled on one page for each job role before going into the interview, include:

  • What were they hired to do?
  • What were their achievements? (primarily those relevant to your needs)
  • What did they most like doing in the role?
  • What did they least like doing? (this can be challenging as most people will say they liked everything – so try to understand what they liked least)
  • What would they do differently?
  • Did they have direct reports? (if not on their resume)
  • Who was their manager and are they still contactable?
  • What would that manager say they did well?
  • What would the manager say they could do to improve?
  • How much were they paid initially and then by the time they left? (this is very relevant in determining the value that employer attributed to the candidate)
  • Why did they leave? No, really, why did they leave? (don’t accept ‘career opportunity’ or similar but really dig in and find the real reasons as you will usually find more than one)

Interviewing is a relatively straight-forward, methodical process. It is simple but not easy. You need to stay ‘on point’. However, what you most need is a sense of curiosity and genuine interest in the person, what they have done and how they went about it. If you cannot bring this to the interview, then get someone else in the company to do it or ask a good recruiter to undertake the interview for you.

Any questions, please ask – online or privately via

Happy recruiting!