The Interview for Employers Part II: Structure Your Interview

So you’ve studied resumes, planned your questions, identified ideal skills and requirements, and organized your notes; now what? With prep work out of the way, it’s time to turn your focus to the interview itself. Interviews only offer a small period of time for you to gain and make impressions, while deciding who is an asset to the productivity of your company. Feeling the pressure?Keeping these tips in mind will help you to run a smooth and productive interview.


  • Dress: Dress appropriately to reflect the standard at which your company holds its employees. This will give candidates a better sense of the office culture
  • Organization: Organize your notes and thoughts from your pre-interview work so that the interview stays focused. Poor organization only wastes time and presents a negative image on your company as a whole.
  • Communication: Speak openly and use ‘welcoming’ body language. This will make candidates more comfortable opening up to you and help them to speak more freely. Use direct communication to avoid lingering confusion.

The Interviewer Arrives

Setting objective is a great way to begin the interview as it helps to focus the discussion.

  • Time: Discuss a timeframe for the interview. Time is a good indicator of how in-depth an interview will be and also decreases distraction.
  • Purpose: Explain the purpose for the interview and what you are hoping to accomplish by the end. Doing this prevents confusion by giving candidates a good understanding of the overall direction of the interview.
  • Format: Discuss the interview format they can expect. When you eliminate surprises and keep candidates informed of the details, they have a chance to relax because they know what’s going to happen. This can help them put more thought into their answers.

Format of the Interview

Note: Allow pauses. Candidates need time to think about their answers. They may also be processing information given to them. Be patient and wait for them to complete their thought.

  • Discuss the Company: Paint an accurate picture of the company. Don’t sugarcoat, hyperbolize or make things seem better than reality. The goal of the interview is to find a long-term employee. If you falsely advertise the job, it’s likely they will leave the company sooner than later.
  • Review Resume: Go over your candidates’ resumes with them to make sure you have a clear understanding of what they mean to say. This will also help you focus on the person in front of you, and what s/he has to offer.
  • Ask Questions: 1. Ask Position Oriented questions to get a generalized feel on if your candidate can handle the opportunity. 2. Make sure that you are asking questions that will inspire candidates to detail how they have worked and dealt with situations in the past. 3. Ask your ‘Ideal Employee’- oriented questions. Remember that a good indicator of the future will be based on their past actions and behaviors.
  • Allow Time for Questions: If candidates are actively engaged and serious about getting hired, it’s more likely they will have questions of their own. Make sure you arrange time for them to speak up and ask.
  • Tour the Facility: Show candidates around so they get a first-hand sense of office culture, and a good feel for the layout of the space. Notice if they seem to feel comfortable and open to learning about the company.

Closing the Interview

  • Mention Concerns: Don’t give false hope. If it’s not a good fit, don’t say you’ll move them forward in the interview process. If there is interest, make sure to state your concerns or hesitations, giving them a last opportunity to sell themselves.
  • Next Steps: Provide specific next steps so your candidates know where to focus their attention after the interview has been completed.
  • Set Expectations: Set expectations on follow up. Don’t leave candidates wondering, or they may avoid taking initiative on something you expect because they feel uncomfortable or unsure.

To better understand how to prepare for an interview, check out The Interview for Employers Part I: Ready, Set, Prepare!


About the Author

For more than 15 years, Kelly Robinson Jensen has provided recruiting services in a broad range of sectors. As Xelerate LLC’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Customer Officer, she oversees operations and sales, with specific responsibility for ensuring operational excellence, cultivating a service organization that innovates and delivers results, and for achieving the company’s sales objectives. Xelerate LLC provides businesses with fully-customized recruitment solutions, merging industry expertise with unparalleled proven practices. Using a consultative approach, Xelerate positively transforms a company’s hiring process helping them secure top talent now and for the future.
Kelly is a Board Member of the Greater Philadelphia Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs and the Entrepreneurs’ Forum of Greater Philadelphia (EFGP). She is a 3ci Council Member of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce as well as a member of the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), Greater Valley Forge Human Resources Association (GVFHRA), and Philadelphia Society of People and Strategy (PSPS).
In addition, she actively participates in various local foundations focused on kids, health and economic empowerment. Additionally, Kelly fills the roles of wife, mother and aunt to 14 nieces and nephews.
To learn more about Kelly, connect with her on LinkedIn at