How To Successfully Interview A Job Candidate

Employees are your most valuable asset, the heart of your small business.

One of the greatest competitive advantages is a team of employees’ that share your vision and goals.

You want to attract and retain the best and this starts with understanding how to interview the right candidate well. Knowing the right practices and tips on how to interview, not only helps you evaluate potential employees’ interpersonal skills but determine if a candidate is right for the role.

This guide will help you discover the importance of an effective interview process and our top interviewer tips to help you find the ideal individuals to grow your business.


Why Are Interviews Important?

Interviews are an important step in the employee selection process and a potential employees’ first impression of your small business. As well as being the first chance you can present your vision and business operations to candidates. When done effectively, this influential factor in the hiring process can easily determine if an applicant is right for the job, avoiding future disappointment.

Here’s how we think you should prioritise your interview process:

Access an applicant’s skills and expertise

Engage with past real-world experiences

Understand how the individual deals in a pressured environment

Connect with an individual’s personality

Increases the accountability of candidates

Connect employees with your business’s success and goals

Ensure it’s a good cultural fit


Make Sure You’re Fully Prepared

Although it may take time, good interview preparation has huge payoffs.

When starting your interview process with thorough research, prepped questions, and a clear understanding of the job role, you can easily evaluate if a candidate has the correct skills for the job.

The best way to increase your chances of winning the perfect applicant is by making the first encounter with your business positive and memorable. A positive candidate experience could be the make-or-break factor when securing an employee against competitors.


Getting The Interview Underway

As an interviewer, your job is not only to evaluate candidates but also to convince the right people to choose your business. This can become complicated as the employment market improves and more options arise. However, with the right preparation and execution, you can effectively secure the right people for the job.

So how can you prepare for the interview? Start with the following as the basic components that should occur during a successful interview process.

Write a strong job description

Read the candidate’s CV first to have a basic understanding of their abilities and experience

Introduce yourself courteously

Ensure the location is appropriate without the risk of interruptions by emails or phone calls

Provide time for candidates to ask questions

Here are our best interview practice tips:


Set Aside Enough Time To Conduct The Interview

Dedicating an appropriate amount of time to carrying out the interview is an essential step to finding your ideal employee.

Job interviews usually last between 30-45 minutes which can vary depending on the role and industry. Whether you need a single day to conduct interviews or opt for a bi-weekly screening process, providing sufficient time and flexibility to access candidates is key.


Choose The Right Interview Questions

Spending time preparing specific and informed questions for the applicants not only improves your control of the interview but effectively elicits the answers you need.

Whether you’re conducting face to face interviews or online zoom calls, compiling a list of questions will illuminate the required attributes needed for the position.

Unsure where to begin? A good practice is considering your current top-performing employees for guidance on what exactly you want to add to your business, common skills, and what their past accomplishments were.

Answering these prompts effectively, creates a criterion that you can implement within the interview hiring process.

Constructing relevant questions is key to success. This means you can also avoid asking inappropriate questions such as age, race, or marital status. Preparing questions that limit or restrict ‘Yes or No’ responses allows applicants to provide detailed descriptions of their skills and expertise, helping you to recognise if they are suitable for the role.


Top Interview Questions That Small Businesses Owners Should Ask

Gaining valuable insight into how an applicant responds to your questions and scenarios is key when conducting an interview.

Keep these questions in mind when finding your ideal candidate:

How do your past experiences relate to this position?

What makes you want to work in this industry?

What skills can you bring to a business?

What is the most important aspect of a business to you?

What is your greatest strength?

How do you overcome challenges?

Why did you leave your last job?

What is your biggest motivation for working in this business?

What do you hope to learn from this role?

What is your work style?

How do you measure success?

Are you a team player?

Does this position fit into your long-term career plan?


What To Avoid In An Interview

During the interview process, having a checklist of points to consider and avoid is key for a successful exchange. Preventing common interviewer mistakes highlights how an interview is a two-way process, as the assessment occurs both ways. Strong interviewing skills are a direct result of preparation and research to clearly understand the dos and don’ts of interviewing.

Avoid these mistakes to guarantee an effective interview:

Poor timekeeping

Appearing uninterested or distracted

Not accurately reading and accessing the candidate’s CV before the interview

Not carrying out a thorough research process

Being quick to judge, avoid preconceived opinions or ideas

Being robotic, remember to connect and show your businesses personality and brand

Inefficient questioning technique

Negatively describing your working environment or past employees

Not being clear what the next steps are

For more information on how to prevent discrimination in recruitment or job adverts, click here.

What Should You Avoid Asking

One of the most important aspects of the interview process is protecting yourself from legal disputes or problems.

How can you do this? Gathering an understanding of sensitive issues and questions is key for a successful interviewing process. Certain questions are prohibited in an interview process, including on application forms and during the interview itself. As an interviewer, it’s important to ensure that your questions relate to the job and your industry. There are some lines of questioning that remain off-limits and discriminatory and can negatively impact the professionalism and legitimacy of your interviewing process.

Here are some question topics to avoid in your interviews:

Age or date of birth

Disabilities of any kind

Marital status


Gender or sex



Race or ethnicity

Illegal or inappropriate job interview questions should always be avoided. The following questions could lead to legal involvement for your business:

Do you have a criminal record?

Are you married?

How many sick days did you take in your last job?

Are you from the UK?

Have you ever been treated by a psychologist?

Are you pregnant or planning to have children soon?


As a small business, it’s vital to conduct a successful interviewing process to secure the best people for the job. We cannot emphasise how important it is to know exactly how to prepare and execute an interview. Not only will this propel your internal team but your entire business.

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