How-to Interview an Employee


As an active recruiter (I am the owner of HIREghana –, my associates and I get to constantly interview Candidates for our own search assignments or as invited members of an Interview Panel. And we see a lot of things that could be improved with a few tips, so here I am just offering my very own humble opinion in the form of advice.

Actually all of us, we get in situations where we have to interview someone either as Recruiters & HR people or Hiring Managers or even as his/her future team members.

While the majority of people from both sides (employer and candidates) do not put too much effort into it, job interviews are the most applicable selection tool and best process of assessing a candidate’s professional and cultural fit to your organization.


What type of Questions should you ask a Candidate?

You should always ask any (any as in: any role and any seniority level) of your Candidates, any types /sorts of questions that probe and asses the candidate’s:

  1. Cultural Fit – without it, both employer and candidate will be equally miserable in a matter of months, if not weeks. Cultural Fitness is not ‘trainable’.
  2. Character / Attitude / Integrity – these are probably the most difficult things to diagnose, but there is no training that you could send a Candidate to develop any of these skills.
  3. Inter-personal skills & Team Spirit – as Aristotle said, ‘we are Social Animals’. And we do belong and work in Teams. Inter-personal skills will also help in any Dispute Resolution, even with Customers!
  4. Communication and Empowerment Abilities – Don’t assume that everyone with Inter-personal Skills has great Communication Skills too.
  5. Motivation – does the Candidate really want this role? Why does s/he want to work for your organization?
  6. Management / Generic Supervisory skills – That implies that s/he can lead a set of tasks/ projects when needed and s/he can function with minimal supervision.
  7. Planning, Decision-making and Situation Assessment – Possibly there is nothing scarier than an employee -at any level, who cannot assess a situation and make decisions when needed.
  8. Responsibility and Accountability
  9. Numbers Please – We strongly believe that any candidate at any level, should be able to provide numbers relating to his/her job; otherwise the candidate might be occupying space from 9-5 and doing ‘chores’ (in his/her mind) to get a salary. For example for a Customer Support role:  Shouldn’t s/he know how many Customers s/he has been able to serve per month? What where his/her KPIs? Did s/he manage to save their organization any money? How?

Start with small talk and ask several easy questions until the candidate seems relaxed. Then, hold a behavioral interview. Keep in mind that quite a huge number of the best and most qualified and most culturally fit candidates have angst or jitters when the word ‘interview’ is mentioned!


What is a Behavioral Interview?

“it is when a candidate demonstrates his/her knowledge, skills, and abilities, collectively known as competencies, by giving specific examples from your past experiences. The interviewer wants to know, not that you can do something, but that you have done it” (Dawn Rosenberg McKay, September 2016).

With ‘you have done it’, it implies that you follow a STAR- type interview (, that your candidates gets to explain to you how s/he did it (e.g. used hammer and a screw driver), how long it took, whether alone or part of a team effort, whether failed at it and what lessons did s/he learnt (Failure is good as long as it leads to Best Practices).

Basically, this type of inquiry lets you know your potential employee on a personal level and create an excellent employer / employee rapport right from the interviewing process. That said, not all HR Personnel and Hiring Managers know how to interview Candidates nor all of them are great at it.


Interviewer Preparation in 10 Steps.

  1. Plan for the interview – run it as a project; and it is a project! Make is Structural.
  2. Create a full and detailed script for the whole interview process.
  3. Select a recruiting, planning/ interviewing panel who should develop a list of pre-requisites and a list of questions of what your organization is looking at.
  4. Develop 10-15 role-specific questions to consistently ask each candidate. This is extremely useful when interviewing multiple applicants and want to compare their answers later. Obviously, it is normal to ask extra unscripted questions.
  5. Use these to understand the candidate’s assessment and to ‘objectively’ compare candidates.
  6. Review the questions to objectively bring to the fore a candidate’s strengths and qualities. Stop all those irrelevant questions seeking for weaknesses. We all have personal and professional weaknesses.
  7. Dedicate and conduct the interview in a serene, stress- and noise-free location, uninterrupted by email, telephone-calls or other employees. Turn off your phones – if there is an emergency, you will be found.
  8. ALWAYS read the CV prior to an interview by carefully studying it ahead of time.
  9. Having a specific and thorough outline of what a candidate would do on the job makes it easier to assess applicants. So, besides a Job Description for your vacancy, you should have a detailed Role Description and all Relevant KPIs for that role. Just to give you an idea: Role Descriptions that we develop for clients can be 10-30 pages long.
  10. Make sure that all Interviewers have been trained on how to interview people.

The preparedness of an interview panel will go all the way in the acquisition and retention of the best talent for your organization.

FYI: Panel Interviews have been proven to be more reliable than 1- to- 1 interviews. It is also an excellent idea to have a Recruitment Agency as an objective external observer / participant in your Interview Panel.


How-to Conduct that Interview.:

  1. Introduce yourself and the Panel
  2. Break the ice by talking about yourself and the organization in brief and why you invited them, why you think that they are great candidates.
  3. Set the stage by telling the applicant what to expect for the next half hour or so. How you conduct yourself during the interview must also reflect the image and values of your business.
  4. Review the Role in front of the Candidate. Spell out what the position involves in more detail than was outlined in the job posting; let them know what the core duties and responsibilities will be, and any working conditions that may affect them.
  5. Start with generalized questions. Begin by asking a few questions about a candidate’s background and interest in the position. Get them to tell you about how they see themselves in relation to the job and what they can contribute and how.
  6. Continue with your Scripted Questions
  7. Ask Candidate- Specific questions on items that where not clear in their CVs and despite their answers so far, you feel that there is a need for elaborating further on those areas.
  8. Challenge the Candidate with unusual questions aiming at gauging their level of maturity, their ability to resolve disputes and misunderstanding, and their analytical & critical thinking. These are always open-ended questions, so there is no correct- answer. If I ask you an offensive question, I care about how you are going to handle that offensive question and not the answer.
  9. Use the same Interview Panel for a given role If you interview candidates on Monday and Wednesday, you can’t have different Panelists.
  10. Avoid Impression Management (IM) tricks. IM is when a candidate self-promotes, claims entitlements, gives ‘sound’ & justifiable excuses, flatters and agrees with the Panel (opinion conformity, smiling, nodding), and so on.
  11. Be Fair + ALWAYS give everyone a CHANCE! Make sure that your Panelist have no possibility nor an incline nor a bias to discriminate based on the candidate’s appearance, gender, ethnicity / tribal origin, accent, age, religion, sexuality, weight, whatever.
  12. Give candidates a chance to ask questions and even demand from them to do so
  13. Tell them what the Next Steps and give them a timeline. Always provide an estimate as to when the candidate might expect to hear back from or the next step in your recruitment process.


In Conclusion

The Best Way to find the Right Candidates is to develop an Interview Process for your organization and optimize it to full maturity.

I hope that you clearly see now that interviewing is a lot more than asking random questions on the CV that you just got in your hands. You need to PLAN for HIGH IMPACT Interviews!

And you need to carry the interview in a Structured manner.

Thank you and Good Luck,


About the Author: Irene Gloria Addison is the owner of HIREghana [Human Intelligence Recruitment], a Leader Ghanaian Recruitment Agency and also a HRM & Organizational Development Consultancy, based in Accra.

Irene welcomes your feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email message to Press at HIREgh . com; she can be reached at +233 50 228 5155 or +233 266 555 907.

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© 2018 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2018 Human Intelligence Recruitment

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