How to conduct an interview? This question has probably been asked by many new recruiters. Rightly so, because anyone who wants to conduct an interview should be prepared. Here you can read how you as an employer can lead the job interview. Which questions are useful and allowed in the job interview (incl. PDF)? What are the phases of the conversation? What happens in the second round? You will also find a checklist at the end of the article so that nothing stands in the way of the perfect job interview!
Guidelines for HR Managers: Systematically Prepare the Job Interview
Preparation is the be-all and end-all of a job interview – and not just for the applicant, because the employer must also be prepared, otherwise this will negatively affect the employer branding.
Preparation for the Job interview for Employers: Part 1
You can’t repeat a first impression. It is all the more important that you not only plan the interview yourself, but also the following logistical factors:
- In which room is the conversation taking place?
- Is there a pleasant atmosphere without disturbing noises (e.g. telephone ringing or printer noise)?
- Are you conducting the conversation alone or with colleagues? Who is responsible for each part?
- Where do the interviewers and the interviewee sit? Can you meet the potential employee at eye level or does the seating arrangement look like an examination committee?
- What do you offer (drinks, snacks)?
- Who will meet the person at the entrance?
- What is the rough schedule?
One last big question remains: has everyone involved looked through the CV at least once? It seems unsympathetic when the interviewer asks: “What did you study?” or “Which school did you go to?” All of this questions are in the CV.
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Prepare Questionnaire: Part 2
There is an art to asking the right questions. So make a plan of what you want to ask in the interview. In this way, you can confidently control the course of the conversation.
Print out the application documents (if you have received them digitally) and, if required, write down the most critical questions right away. Apart from that: it is best to make a list of things that you would like to know about the person. Sort all questions as per priority: Which ones are really relevant to the job? Which ones are pure interest?
The basis for the conversation is thus laid. If this is your first job interview on the employer side, you should now be familiar with the general procedure – more on this later!
Practical Guide: How to Conduct an Interview?
The employer is responsible for structuring the interview. That sounds more cumbersome than it is. Essentially, the conversation can be divided into 5 phases. This is just a guide, ultimately you can of course divide these phases freely or rearrange them spontaneously during the conversation.
The Process: Phases of an Interview
The interview begins with a welcome and a few minutes of casual conversation. Only then does the technical part follow. The company is then put to the test: you, the employer, explain what the position is about. Then give the applicant the opportunity to ask questions.
As soon as everything is clarified, the conversation draws to a close. Now you should briefly mention how the application process will continue. When do you give feedback? Is there a second round planned?
That’s it for the basic structure. Let’s take a look now at what is important in the individual phases!
Phase 1: Greeting
No matter how cool an applicant may be, excitement always goes into the interview. Perhaps you are no different. Give yourself and the applicant a little time to settle into the situation.
Do you welcome the person at the entrance? Then the way to the meeting room is a wonderful opportunity for a casual small talk. The traffic, the parking situation, the weather – whatever you can think of.
As soon as everyone involved is in the same room, the interview begins. Explain who those present are and what their role is in the company. Also give a brief overview of how the interview will proceed. Another tip: offer a drink. Even if it’s just a glass of water, that gives the applicant something to “hold onto” if they’re too nervous.
To Sum Up:
• The first 5-10 minutes is all about getting to know each other.
• Start the conversation actively, but not immediately with technical questions.
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Phase 2: The interview: Asking Questions
It’s getting serious: the actual interview is coming up. Start with simple, open-ended questions. This is how you get the other person talking and the conversation can develop naturally.
Warning: You may ask questions, but the interview is not intended to be a cross-examination. Rather, it’s about dialogue, because that’s how you show genuine interest. Most of the time, the applicant should be speaking here, but you can help by actively filling in pauses in the conversation.
Do you take notes at the interview? A very good idea, and also a suitable pause filler. However, try not to appear too busy, otherwise you might appear overly critical.
To Sum Up:
• Ask open-ended questions instead of yes/no formulations.
• The interview is not a crossfire of questions, but a dialogue.
Phase 3: The Employer Introduces Himself
As soon as all questions are addressed by the applicant, the ball is back in your court now. Start by introducing the company and explaining the position to be filled. Now is the time to explain the following:
- What is the position about?
- Why is it vacant?
- What is particularly important in this position?
- What about opportunities for advancement and further training?
- Are there benefits such as remote work option, vouchers for employees, etc.?
- What are the core working hours?
- What is there to know about corporate culture?
Attention: It is a balancing act to describe the corporate culture.
Most applicants know exactly how to translate certain key phrases. “We are a big family” may sound to them like “Everyone must always be available in the WhatsApp group, even in their free time.” That puts them off. Rather turn the tables and say honestly: “It is important to us that work and leisure time remain separate. When you’re on vacation, you’re on vacation and not overwhelmed with work matters.”
Phase 4: Questions for the Company
The applicant now has the opportunity to ask questions. Answer these questions truthfully. It will negatively reflect on the company if you make promises and then don’t deliver on them.
Aren’t there any questions left? Then give the other person a moment to organize their thoughts. Open the window, have a sip of water, if required, ask the other people present: “Did I forget something?” In the meantime, the applicant will probably have one or another important question.
Phase 5: Completion and Follow-up of the Job Interview
Everything solved? Then comes phase 5, the conclusion. Round off the conversation by…
- explaining how to proceed now (waiting times, next steps in the process, etc.)
- repeating or explaining the general conditions (start date, salary, hours)
- giving yourself another chance to ask final questions
Then all that remains is to thank the candidate and accompany the interviewee to the exit.
The conversation doesn’t end there: it’s time for the follow-up! Organize your notes and, if necessary, talk to your team members: What did you like in each case? What did you notice? What was the mood like? How do you rate the person in comparison to other applicants? It is best to use a uniform evaluation form for the interview.
Interview Questions: PDF Guide for Employers
You probably know the typical questions in a job interview: strengths and weaknesses, preferences and interests… Well, the problem with that: the applicants also know these questions and have learned the appropriate answers by heart. Below we have therefore compiled a list of practical questions. Plus: Which questions should you (not) ask?
Typical Questions to Ask at an Interview
- What was your last major challenge? How did you deal with it?
- Which task in your last job would you omit from the new position?
- What do you think is the perfect workplace?
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
- What did you particularly notice about the job advertisement?
- What special advantages do you think you bring with you?
- What are your salary expectations?
- How did you prepare for the interview?
- What else would you have written in the application if you had had more space?
- Which decision of the last few years would you make differently today?
- In your opinion, when was the last time you took on a lot of responsibility?
- What was the most difficult situation you have ever experienced in a workplace?
- What interests you most about this position?
- Do you prefer to work alone or within a team?
- What does success mean to you personally?
Which Questions are Allowed to be Asked at an Interview and which are not?
According to the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), an employer may not ask any questions that could be interpreted as discriminatory. Only questions that provide relevant information, such as salary expectations or personal motivation, are allowed.
- Marital status and desire to have children
- Finances and debt
- Criminal record
As is so often the case, however, there are exceptions. For example, when it comes to a job as a bank employee, it is of course relevant for the employer whether the person may have debts or other financial difficulties.
Handling Special Cases Correctly: Tips for HR Managers Conducting a Job Interview
You have already met an applicant and have now invited them to a second round? Are you looking for a manager? In such cases, the classic questions about motivation are no longer enough. Finally, a few tips for special cases!
Interview with a Manager
If you are looking for specialists and executives, you will probably take a very close look – after all, this is a highly responsible position. In such a case, you can ask, for example:
- How large was the last team you managed?
- Do you prefer to work with large or smaller teams and why?
- What do you do when there are conflicts in the team?
- What do you think is an absolute no-go for employees?
- What do you see as the most important aspect of personnel development?
- How do you motivate your team?
Second round: what if there is a second interview?
A second interview calls for new questions. You already know your candidate’s background, so what can you ask at the follow-up appointment?
- Ask if there is anything that was unclear in the first conversation. You can see to what extent the person got prepared for the second appointment.
- Ask so-called stress questions. These are questions that are not so easy to answer off the cuff. How well can the applicant respond?
- Ask the applicant to introduce themselves for a few minutes. It says a lot about a person – which aspects they name first and which ones they pass by.
In short: The second interview is there to find out more about the person. Your candidate is probably less nervous now as you already know each other. Take the chance and put it through its paces to see if the chemistry and skills are right!
Checklist: How to Properly Conduct the Perfect Job Interview
- The room is fixed.
- Disturbing factors are eliminated.
- You can offer something to drink.
- All participants know when and where the discussion will take place.
- All participants know the content of CV.
- The seating arrangement is fixed.
- Everyone is aware of who has the last word in the decision.
- The next candidate does not come immediately afterwards.
- The questionnaire is prepared.
- You give an overview of the progress.
- The questions are consistently relevant.
- You know what you want to tell about the company.
- You have allowed time for short pauses to think.
Closing and Internal Follow-Up
- You accompany the applicant(s) to the exit and say thank you.
- You discuss the interview with your colleagues.
- You review your notes.
If you follow all these tips, you will definitely have a good interview and can be sure that you have done everything to ensure the best candidate experience. We wish you success!
Job interview FAQ
How do I conduct a job interview?
When conducting an interview in a structured manner, it is advisable to follow a guideline. However, this can be changed spontaneously during the interview. Nevertheless, it makes sense to follow this guideline in order to gain important experience about the applicant and to provide important information about the company.
How long does a job interview take?
The duration of a job interview depends on the position in question. Interviews with entry-level employees are usually short, while interviews with specialists or managers may be longer. It should be noted that a follow-up conversation with colleagues takes place immediately after the applicant has left the company.
How do I prepare for a job interview?
The preparation for the employer is equally important for the applicant. The preparation can be divided into two parts. On the one hand, logistical factors (location, personnel present, catering) must be clarified, and on the other hand, the list of questions for the actual interview. With the help of our guide, the employer conducting can obtain information that defines and describes the individual phases of a job interview.
How are interviews conducted?
A job interview can be divided into different phases. Beginning with the greeting and a short small talk, it continues with the interview, in which the applicant is asked several questions. Then the employer introduces him/herself and offers the applicant the opportunity to ask questions to the company. With the conclusion of the interview and the farewell, the last phase begins, in which the follow-up takes place.
What should I take with me to the job interview?
In addition to the pre-determined people who should be Invited, it is important to bring a few things to the interview. You should have the possibility to make notes. Furthermore, it is useful to carry the application documents with you in order to be able to address any ambiguities.
Be ready on time – after all, you expect the same from the applicant. The first 5-10 minutes are all about getting to know each other. Start the interview actively, but not immediately with specific questions. Make sure that you ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with yes or no.
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