Prepare for Interviews

Ensure you have completed all prior steps for recruitment before proceeding.

Steps

1. Select the interview panel or selection committee

Identify an interview panel to hire support staff, professional staff and academic professional officers and management

  • A panel of no more than four interviewers is recommended and should include the hiring manager, department personnel, a technical expert if appropriate and any other appropriate person (i.e. HR Service Partner)
  • Research shows that an interview panel 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

Identify a selection committee for hiring academic staff and faculty

  • For Academic Faculty hiring please follow the Academic Selection Procedure and procedures when selecting your committee.
  • We encourage you to assemble a selection committee to advise on the appointment of continuing appointments and temporary appointments eight months or longer.
  • We recommend the committee consist of at least three individuals reflective of the demographic diversity of the university, inclusive of persons historically under-represented.

Interview panel or selection committee responsibilities

Interview panel/selection committee members are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the principles of equity, diversity and inclusivity concepts of bias awareness and discrimination and the obligations under applicable university policies, in particular, the Discrimination, Harassment and Duty to Accommodate Policy, and equity, diversity and inclusivity goals.

2. Set parameters with the interview panel or selection committee
The following details need to be reviewed and finalized with the panel/committee:

  • Review ground rules for the process (e.g. confidentiality, FOIPP, protected grounds)
  • Assign roles including the chair and designated note-taker
  • Review short-list criteria, screening results, and confirm the selection criteria
  • Review and finalize the interview questions and plan
  • Determine approximate timeline for hiring decisions, reference checks, offer(s), and notice to unsuccessful candidates
3. Structure interviews and develop the interview plan

An interview with diverse, applicable and challenging questions is an integral tool to determine and assess each candidate’s competence. Competence is defined as specialized knowledge, skills and/or abilities that are required to perform a job.

Use the Interview Tool

The Interview Tool is designed to assist in making interview packages in less time with one easy-to-access application. Within the Interview Tool Guide you will find:

  • The importance of strong and effective interview questions
  • Importance of selecting job-appropriate questions
  • Importance of probes and follow-up aids to assist in conducting better interviews
  • Suggestions on how to best select questions by identifying the position competencies
  • When possible it’s recommended to include questions around II & EDI to support the universities commitment and culture to II & EDI principles

Use your CCID Login information to access the tool. If you cannot access it, please request to be added as a user by emailing hrtacoe@ualberta.ca.

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?” or “How many hours a week can you work?”

For targeted recruitment strategies with the intention to better represent historically underrepresented groups and ensure a diverse employee representation, please consult with your HR Service Partner.

Resources and sample interview questions

4. Schedule the interview

Considerations when scheduling interviews:

  • Ideally, schedule the interviews within a week of the posting close date as job seekers may accept other opportunities if there are delays
  • Plan for a maximum of four to five interviews per day; allowing a minimum of one hour per interview with 15-30 minutes between interviews to debrief and record assessment information
  • Secure a confidential, professional interview location and ensure there are no interruptions
5. Prepare for conducting a remote interview

As a result of remote work, hiring managers are encouraged to conduct interviews with a virtual meeting or phone call.

Best practices for remote interviews

The University of Alberta’s preferred video chat tools are Google Meet or Zoom. Google Meet is recommended whenever possible as it offers a dial-in line. Additional tools are available through Talent Acquisition to support you with your hiring process, including the online skill and behavioral assessments through HireSelect. To access these tools, please reach out to hrtacoe@ualberta.ca.

Considerations when conducting a remote interview:

  • Be mindful that not every candidate will be able to access virtual interview technology, and may need to have a phone interview, reschedule or determine an alternate method for interviewing.
  • Test your technology prior to the scheduled interview time.
  • Ensure you pre-establish expectations and housekeeping items with the interview panel/committee and the candidate. For example, before the interview begins, discuss the timing and format of the interview, establish confidentiality and agree to not record during the virtual meeting.
  • Questions must be the same as what you would have asked in an in-person interview.
  • Keep detailed notes as part of your records retention.
  • Ensure you’ve advised the candidate that they’ll be on camera if conducting a video interview.
  • Present yourself appropriately through attire and background.
  • Be mindful and accommodating of potential audio and/or video delays, and empathetic if a pet or child makes an unexpected appearance.
  • Remember in this remote working environment that candidates may feel additional stress.

Interviewing by phone

  • Call the candidate from your work phone number or block your personal number if possible.
  • If hosting a group call, remind interview participants to mute their lines when not in use to ensure smooth communication and avoid interruptions.
6. Conduct the interview

Opening the interview

The first step in welcoming the candidate is introducing the panel/committee members and providing a brief description of the interview process including the time allotted. Since the candidate should be doing most of the talking this will give the panel/committee a sense of a candidate's communication skills and time management.

It is common that both interviewer and candidate are nervous; however, thorough preparation will make a difference for both parties. The best information is obtained when the candidate is relaxed, and a few moments of small-talk will help to create a comfortable environment. Be careful not to fill silences by talking too much since the aim of the interview is to draw information from the candidate.

During the interview

Most of the interview will consist of the planned interview questions. Ask probing or follow-up questions when clarification or more information is required from the initial response. Actively listen, observe, avoid leading questions and allow sufficient time for candidates to formulate responses. Maintain control of the interview and encourage candidates who speak too little to go into further detail and if a candidate talks too much, interject to remain on schedule.

Closing the interview

Ask the candidate(s) if they have any questions. Keep in mind that the interview is a two-way evaluation process; candidates may seek information that will assist them in assessing whether the position and/or department is right for them.

Be sure to outline the next steps and timelines, ask when they would be available to start, and what their salary expectations are (e.g. where they see themselves fit on the salary scale).

A list of at least two references should be requested. Review the list to ensure that appropriate types of references are included (e.g. no personal references) and have the candidate sign the Consent for Collection and Verification of Information.

All interviews require careful preparation if they are to be successful. Each candidate should leave with a sense of being treated respectfully and having had the opportunity to give their best.

Skill testing and certifications
For positions where a specific level of proficiency, technical skill or knowledge is a critical job requirement, candidate testing is available to provide another method of evaluating candidate skills. Testing may be conducted before or after the interview and all shortlisted candidates must complete the same exercise. Contact your HR Service Partner for additional information. Faculties and units can request documentation of certifications or credentials that are required for the position. Examples include a current driving abstract, specific training, education credential, or a vulnerable sector check as supported by policy.
Interview assessments
The panel/committee should spend 15–30 minutes debriefing between interviews to assess each candidate's performance. This initial assessment should focus on capturing first impressions, interview feedback on responses, and general information about each candidate. It provides an opportunity for the panel/committee to share impressions and identify if further probing or follow up is required and what specific questions should be asked of references.
Important
  • Interview documentation and official interview notes on candidate selection must be saved for one year as per the records retention policy.
  • All recruitment files involving foreign nationals must be retained for a minimum of six years.
  • Records for tenure-track academic foreign worker positions must be retained permanently.

Need support?

Shared Services can provide any support related to interview preparation and screening/shortlisting candidates.

The Talent Acquisition Support team (via the Staff Service Centre) can provide support related to job postings, immigration and coordinating recall and duty to accommodate processes.

Your HR Service Partner can provide support for interviews at the leadership level and any other questions throughout the steps for recruitment.