How do I design interview questions?

Designing interview questions to improve your recruitment process

The aim here is to find the best match of skills, experience and personality for the job role.  

Start by being really clear on the qualities you need by asking yourself “what’s essential in my new hire? “  This will be your success criteria. 

You will probably already have been through the preliminary talent acquisition stage, reviewing their application or CV, and you have a good idea that they could be a close match – they’ll have relevant experience and the qualifications you need and be at the right stage of their career to make a move.  

Interview Questioning Best Practice

Provide a two-way discussion

The purpose of the interview stage is to provide a two-way discussion, exploring their fit with your job role in detail. You want to allow the candidates to demonstrate their experience by asking questions about your success criteria – the key competencies you decided were the most important. Allow them to show they have the skills, experience and personal attributes you need, so you can choose the best fit – for them and for you. 

Use questions relating to job-based competencies

Interviewing is a flawed process. To overcome this, we can use good questioning and job-based competencies to focus on the relevant feedback we need.  You’ll take the essential skills, experience and behaviours you need and turn these into your interview topics.   

These will be things like excellent organisation skills and meeting deadlines, good verbal communication, perhaps particularly over the phone, Excel, Word, Sage or other specific software, experience of managing others and good teamwork.  We often call these competencies. 

How do you turn these into interview questions?

How do we turn these into interview questions? There are many types of question – and some maybe a simple yes, no or confirm the facts.  Where you want to gain a good understanding of the scope of their experience or an insight into their manner and approach, use a competency based questioning technique.   

This asks candidates to talk about their actual experience and give you real examples, using open questions such as: 

“Tell me about – give me some examples of – how do you go about – how did you approach ….” 

Once your candidate has given you an ideal example to explore, you can go deeper to find out more.  These questions will focus in on the particular aspects you are interested in and you’ll ask them to: 

“Tell me more about … What areas did you specifically contribute to …. What results did you personally achieve….. what went well – what would you do differently next time…” 

We call this funnelling and it takes you down into more details to give you the evidence you need. 

We’ve posted some interview questions in our Employers Community for managerial and customer services roles which you’ll find helpful, so check those out if you are recruiting at the moment, or contact us below if you have any queries: