Recruitment & Advertising

Preparing for the Interview

In this section you will find information on:

  • Selecting the Interview Panel
  • Developing the Interview Plan
  • Resources and Sample Interview Questions

Selecting the Interview Panel

Research shows that the panel or team interviewing approach produces the most reliable results and offers the following benefits:

  • Broader knowledge base and expertise
  • Increased objectivity leading to a more defensible selection decision
  • Higher organizational commitment to the selection decision

A panel of no more than four interviewers is recommended and should include the hiring supervisor, the department personnel/human resources administrator (or a central human resources contact), a technical expert if appropriate and any other appropriate person.

The following details need to be reviewed and finalized with the interview panel:

  • Review ground rules for the process (e.g. confidentiality, FOIPP)
  • Assign roles including the chair, official note taker, and reference checker
  • Review short-list criteria, screening results, and confirm the selection criteria
  • Review and finalize the interview questions and plan
  • Assess whether testing or a job-related exercise is required (e.g. computer proficiency, typing speed, writing skills)
  • Confirm timelines for the process

Structured Interviews and Developing the Interview Plan

A critical part of recruitment process is the interview itself which is one of the tools used to determine and assess each candidate’s competence in areas that are required to do the job. Competence is defined as specialized knowledge, skills and / or abilities that are required to perform a job and that can differentiate satisfactory from superior performance.

To promote transparency and objectivity, a structured interview should be followed for each candidate interview. This involves preparing for the interview in advance, ensuring the interview questions reflect the screening / selection criteria, and following the interview plan during each interview (does not preclude probing questions).

Keep in mind that if a candidate’s response is not clear or detailed enough, the interview panel should ask probing questions for clarity and additional information which will then allow them to make an accurate assessment. Probing questions are unique to each interview and are not part of the structured interview plan.

The structured interview and corresponding interview plan leads to more thorough, objective, and consistent candidate assessments. This also increases the reliability and validity of the overall results and avoids personal and non job-related questions.

Types of Interviews and Questions

It is most effective to use a variety of question types including information or technical skill verification questions; situational and behavioral descriptive questions. Structure the questions to cover all the relevant areas, and don't ask too many closed questions (e.g. yes or no responses). Open-ended questions require planning a response and encourage the candidate to speak freely (e.g. often begin with 'what', 'why', 'when' or 'how').

In addition to open and closed type questions, there are two additional types of interview questions.

Behaviour Descriptive - Questions are based on the premise that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. The questions are open ended and ask for specific examples of experiences to demonstrate skills, abilities, and knowledge

Situational - Questions are generally opened ended and ask candidates how they will respond in a hypothetical situation that is relevant to the position.

Resources for Developing and Selecting Interview Questions

  • The job posting and the job fact sheet
  • The short-list and selection criteria
  • Input from the hiring supervisor and the interview panel
  • Previous interview plans that have been used for similar recruitments

Most interviews are scheduled for 45-60 minutes, which allows for approximately 11-13 questions in the interview plan. Structure the interview plan to start with general or easy questions and build up to more complex and specific.

Human Rights Considerations

Avoid non-job related questions and personal questions related to family, marital status, religion or country of origin.

Questions relating to bona-fide occupational requirements such as candidate availability or specific information can be reframed. For instance, to find out about a candidate’s availability to work non-regular hours ask: What is your availability to work shift work or are you available to work over-time regularly versus Do you have children, how many hours a week can you work.

Resources and Sample Interview Questions