There is a lot of information available online for candidates on how to prepare for a face to face interview but where is the advice and guidance for the interviewers? In this blog we want to take you through some techniques that will help you to deliver the best experience for both you and the candidate and ensure you get the hire right.

Day 1 of the job

Arguably an interview with a candidate is really their first day with your company and your first day working with them so it is key to make excellent first impressions on both sides.

Some people will be seasoned interviewers with their go to questions and playbook that they will never deviate from but I know there will also be others out there who a) might be new to management and may not have conducted their own interviews before or b) managers who have had a run of recruits that didn’t work out for whatever reason and this time they want to make it work.

This is where we can help. We interview hundreds of people every week whether it be carrying out telephone interviews for candidates, face to face registration with candidates or interviewing hiring managers about their requirements so let us outline our helpful tips to help you succeed when interviewing face to face.

Face to face interview: what works?

Attending a job interview is said to be one of the most stressful situations a human being can experience. People react differently to stress and let’s be honest, it’s not a situation you (hopefully) don’t find yourself in too often.

It is important to attempt to relax the candidates and this will get the best out of them during the interview. Perhaps start with some general questions, asking them how they are, how have they travelled today, how their weekend was or something topical. This will get the candidate talking and allow them to start to relax into the interview a bit more.

Body language

Being aware of and using body language is key when interviewing a candidate. Candidates will pick up on your body language and will get a sense of how the interview is going for them by your body language so make sure you are aware how you might be coming across. For example, crossed arms are commonly a defensive sign which can be perceived negatively and maintaining eye contact is critical to initial relationship building.

Show personality

Make sure you focus on projecting you and your company in the best light, regardless of whether you may have the busiest work schedule you’ve ever had. Interviewing is a two way process for both candidate and employer and it helps if you show a little of your personality in order that the candidate will mirror and show theirs. Try and express your passion for your work, the company ethos and culture and take them through a little of what they will be doing in the role if successful.

If you have instructed an agency to assist you with your recruitment, they should have already briefed and prepped the candidate about the company and why it is a brilliant place to work so make sure your personality comes across in the same way.

How can you extract the information you need during a face to face interview?

Exercises (and we don’t mean lunges and crunches)

One of the key questions you want to ascertain from the meeting is; can this person do the job. Depending on the requirements of the job, you could look at including exercises that might be relevant for the job. For example, we work with a number of insurance companies all over the country who will have a dedicated claims or call handling team. If telephone manner and customer service are big elements of the role why not set a small roleplay exercise during the interview. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy exercise but it’s a chance for you to see this person carrying out a similar task.

Scenario based questioning is also another way for you to see if your next hire is sat in front of you. Asking a candidate how they coped previously in a situation is a brilliant indicator how they might cope in the future. Here a few ideas on the types of questions you could use;

  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to achieve it.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you had to manage an unhappy customer and what you did?

If answers seem to be thin on detail, the interviewer can ask follow-up questions:

  • What exactly did you do?
  • What was your specific role in this?
  • What challenges did you come across?
  • Why exactly did you make that decision?

Knowledge and understanding

There are different ways that a person’s understanding for the role can be obtained. Some people prefer leading the interview and asking questions about each individual skill required but why not try flipping that around and asking the candidate to lead the conversation about their skillset and why they think they would be suitable for the role.

If there is a particular point or aspect you are interested in hearing more about you can ask them to go into more detail and then allow them to continue leading interview.

If you are working with an agency and you are unsure on how to go about it ask them for their help. They interview people every day and some consultants are invited to join interview panels to help with the process.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Closed questioning – this is when you ask a question where the response from a candidate is either one worded or can offer little detail. ‘Do you think you’re the person for the job? Yes/No
  • Appearing distracted or disengaged. If you are on your phone or checking your emails a candidate may be put off by this and it may affect their performance if they feel you are no longer interested in listening to them
  • Not knowing who they’re about to meet and what job they are going to be interviewed for. If you have multiple vacancies make sure you have informed them what job it is they are interviewing for
  • Not giving a candidate an opportunity to see some of the team or the working environment. If you’re not the person who is going to be either line managing or training the new recruit then make sure they have the opportunity to meet or at least see where it is they would be based. The last thing you want to happen is for someone to start a new role and then want to leave because they don’t like their team or they didn’t realise they’d be working alone in a room.

How can you prepare?

Whether you have enlisted the help of a recruitment agency or not you should have a vague idea of the person you are about to meet.

Do some research on your candidates. Most candidates will think to do research on the company or the person they are meeting prior to an interview so why not do the same thing. That way, you can find out more information about their hobbies, their company culture suitability fit and whether they have had any amazing achievements.

If you are working with an agency they should be able to give you a blurb or background on the candidates they are submitting for interview so speak to them and see what information they have ascertained.

Pre-set scenarios

Prior to interview you could ask a candidate to prepare examples or answers to a set of scenario based questions and that way you can have an idea in your head of what you would like those answers to be.

Reference checking

Normally reference checks are obtained when someone has been offered a position but if a candidate is happy for you to contact their references prior to an interview you could get some information from former employers. By being open and transparent it can create a really good foundation topic to develop and discuss in detail.


Identify what is the most important thing to you and your team about this next recruit and make sure your questioning incorporates those things. You can also come up with a scoring system out of 5 or 10 and score how well you feel that person answers your questions.

It can also be a really good idea to bring in another person to the face to face interview to help deliver the interview but also give you their thoughts and feedback. We have a tendency to hire in our image regardless of skills suitability so having someone who is a little different to you in terms of personality works well.

For managerial positions we have sat on panels with a number of interviewers and scored candidates based on a number of different criteria

As you can see, carrying out an interview is an incredibly important part of the wider hiring strategy and it should not be taken lightly. If you would like further help to ensure your face to face interviews ensure you complete success please get in touch with the team at Elite today!