Interviews and Testing
We have provided some tips for interviewing and sample interview questions on our website for your convenience.
Interviews Accordion Open
If you have not created your interview questions, do so now. (The Employment & Compensation team recommends creating them during the posting period to save time.)
In preparation for the interview
- Consider the agenda for your interview and plan for the appropriate time and location for the interviews.
- If you have a large number of candidates you would like to interview, consider doing shorter screening interviews over the phone to identify 3-4 candidates to interview in person.
- Contact candidates and arrange interviews.
- Prepare copies of the interview questions for the committee. Consider arranging the questions to allow space for committee members to make notes. (As a part of the documentation for your search, collect the committee members’ notes at the end of the selection process.)
- Arrange the room for the interview. Consider providing water for your candidate. Remember that you are recruiting the candidate, and representing NAU, so be sure to provide a professional and welcoming setting for the interview.
- When interviewing multiple candidates for a position, it is important to use the same criteria for evaluating each candidate in order to avoid legal problems. The key is to be consistent and fair with all candidates.
- Use an interviewing guideline of core criteria and qualifications that is applicable to all candidates.
- Choose questions that fit the position.
During the interview
- After introductions, briefly review the job you are interviewing the candidate for. This can help focus the committee and the candidate.
- Involve the committee members in the questioning if possible.
- Give some thought to the answer(s) that makes sense give your department, culture, and duties and the experience required to be successful in the position.
- Most questions do not have a “right” or “wrong” answer. The applicant’s reasoning abilities and the though process that leads to the answer is often as important as the answer itself.
- Verify the names, phone numbers and other contact information of the references provided by the applicant. Ask for permission from the applicant to proceed with checking references from a current employer.
- Ask the candidate to review a hard copy of their application, and sign the application on the last page.
One method for evaluating interviews is the use of a scoring system. The total number of points possible for each question should be determined prior to the interviews and should be used consistently for each candidate.
The candidate may share personal information with you during an interview. The key to keeping the interview legal is to not address items that are not job related.
For example, an applicant may share that their spouse is a brain surgeon. A response as simple as, “Oh, does he plan to open a practice here?” can be viewed as an attempt to gain personal information. The answer to this question is not job related and has nothing to do with whether or not the individual will make a good, effective employee.
What not to ask:
There are six main interview question topics that trigger lawsuits – also known as The Big Six. The Big Six deal with disability, age, gender, national origin, race and religion. Use the job requirements from your job description to frame your interview questions, which should yield the answers that you need to make an informed hiring decision.
- Disability – ask bias-free questions if you feel as though you need more information from your candidate regarding performing the job duties, for example; you may ask your candidate: “can you perform the functions required for this position, with or without reasonable accommodations?”
- Age – You may not ask a candidate how old they are or even a question about when they went to college.
- Gender Bias –Stay away from questions such as “are you married,” “do you have kids,” or “are you planning a family.”
- Natural Origin – prior to hiring an individual, do not ask questions about their right to work in the United States or for proof of work authorization.
- Race – Do not comment on someone’s name, skin, eye color, hair color dress or jewelry. It might seem innocent enough to try to make small talk before or after an interview – but talking about the weather or the job is best!
- Religion – You may not inquire into an applicant’s religious faith, denomination, or affiliation, except in those very rare instances where religion is a bona fide occupational qualification.
Remember, you may only probe about behavior, knowledge and the ability to perform the job.
Testing Accordion Closed
Testing candidate skills is optional, but may provide some valuable information to consider.
Testing Options and Ideas:
- Prepare a sample presentation for the selection committee.
- Participate in a role-play scenario on a relevant topic.
- Ask for examples of previous work.
- Provide rough text to determine editing skills.
- Problem-solve an issue critical to the position.
- Provide background information and have applicants participate in a staff meeting that attempts to solve an actual situation.
Guidelines for testing:
- Use the same evaluators (at least three) for each test and use only job-related criteria listed in the job posting.
- Testing should be documented and reviewed with Human Resources if there are questions.
- Pre-determine what “weight” the testing results will have in the selection decision. Testing should be included on the matrix.
- Give applicants advance notice of the testing when practical to do so.
- Provide sufficient time, tools and a reasonable environment in which to take the test. Provide all applicants with the same amount of time, tools and environment.
- Remember that legal issues can arise from testing. Contact Human Resources if you have any questions.
*Reminder: On the HireSmart! Checklist, log all of the applicants who were interviewed, date interviewed and indicate “Y” or “N” for if hired. Also provide copies of any tests administered, and the results from each applicant.