Talent Acquisition

Campus Address
121 USB
Mailing Address

1 West Prentiss Street
121 University Services Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

The applicant interview is an important part of the selection and hiring process. It is an opportunity for the hiring department to provide information about the position to the applicant and to gather job-related information about each applicant. The interview should be carefully planned to gather only job-related information that can be used to determine if the applicant has the skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform the duties of the position.

Guidelines for a Successful Employee Selection Interview

Review the job description to identify the key elements/duties of the position. The use of the Essential and Marginal Job Functions form can help you identify these duties.

Write questions, both closed and open-ended, designed to determine the level of related skills, education, training, and/or experience of each applicant. Closed questions are those that elicit "yes/no" answers. Open-ended questions require more detailed answers.

Questions that are asked during the interview should elicit information that will provide factual information about the individual’s ability to perform the duties of the position. Be sure to require specific answers to questions, do not settle for generalities.

Some sample questions are:

  • Give me an example when you have …. .
  • What were your specific responsibilities in the area of … .
  • Describe how you have learned a new skill.
  • Describe a time when you have been a member of a team, include your specific responsibilities. What did you like and dislike about that experience?
  • Describe a time when you have been solely responsible for the completion of an assignment, include how you executed the assignment and what outcome resulted. Is there anything that you would have changed about the way you handled that assignment, if so, what?

Interviewing applicants with disabilities should not include inquiries that you would not ask of every other applicant. If the person brings an assistant/interpreter/advocate, address the questions to the applicant not to the other person. More information is available from the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).

Areas/Questions that Should Not be Included in the Interview

  • Age
  • Arrest record
  • Family member care arrangements
  • Family plans
  • Financial status
  • Forms of transportation to work
  • Health, disability
  • Height, weight
  • Maiden name
  • Marital status
  • Place of birth
  • Prior illnesses or accidents
  • Race, ethnic background, national origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Type of discharge from military

Review the individual applications to identify the applicants who should be invited for a personal interview. Selection of interviewees should be based on the relevant education, training and work experience recorded in the application that applies to the requirements of the position.

Schedule adequate time to prepare for each interview, to conduct each interview, and to review the information provided during the interview. Clarify notes about the applicant as needed.

Compare the information gathered from the application and interview with each applicant to the skills, knowledges, and abilities that are necessary for the position. A chart or grid that identifies the key skills, knowledges and abilities can be helpful in determining how many of the required and preferred s, k, a’s each applicant has.

Obstacles to Effective Interviewing

  • Not understanding the skills, knowledge and abilities needed for the job
  • Failing to establish rapport with the applicant
  • Not actively listening to the answers to questions
  • Incorrectly interpreting the information obtained from the applicant
  • Making a decision based solely on "first impressions" rather than through analytical judgment
  • Making judgmental or leading statements

Conduct a reference check to verify that the information provided by the applicant(s) is accurate. This at least includes dates of employment, duties that were performed, and whether or not the individual is eligible for rehire with the company/department.  For guidance on conducting more thorough reference checks, see Conducting a Reference Check.

The job offer should be made in person or over the phone whenever possible and should be followed up with a written acknowledgement of the acceptance.

The letter should include information about the job title, salary, begin date, probation period, location to which to report, individual to whom to report, hours of work, and definitely a welcome to the work unit.

Other candidates for the position should be informed that the position has been filled and thanked for his/her interest in the position.

Co-workers of the new employee should be notified that the position has been filled. The name and some background on the individual should be included in the notice.