Interview Checklist


A HR Professional is the gatekeeper to any organization. Sometimes, the first face that a potential candidate sees in a company is a face of the HR Department.  The role of HR in the company recruitment and interview processes varies from organization to organization…depending on its size, talent management and succession planning needs OR plans for future growth.

There can be a lot to cover to effectively and efficiently make the most of a first round interview.  Typically, you will want to do a lot of listening and you can open up the candidate’s dialog with a number of fundamental, behavioral style questions that can answer more than one question at a time.  For example:

  • How did you hear about us?
  • Tell me a little bit about yourself.  (Review of the person, their history of work, commitments, etc.)
  • What is a typical week/day in your current position?
  • What are your greatest strengths? What is your greatest opportunity for improvement/weakness?
  • What is your career path?  What are your goals?
  • What is the meaning of sales or providing exceptional customer care to you? (Or anything relevant to the position)
  • What transferable skills do you bring to the table?
  • What do you know about us?
  • Do something.  (For example, if applying to a sales position, ask the candidate to sell you something. You can learn a lot about a candidate by how they respond… Do they sell something in the room or jump at the opportunity to be creative on the spot? Did they cover your organizations basic principles for sales techniques? Did they sell a product or fill a customer’s needs – in this case, you – the interviewer, etc.)

A standard part of a typical interviewing process should include the completion of the company’s job application.  HR Professionals are required to follow certain guidelines and regulations with applications.  For example, what is asked, where it’s filed, for how long, etc.  Items that are inspected on a job application can include the following:

  • Application is complete in full. (No missing questions overlooked or left unanswered)
  • Inspect criminal convictions/charges.  If answered yes, note that the candidate has explained.  If an organization conducts background checks and there is a background, it will come up.
  • References have been provided with phone numbers or email addresses.
  • A Pre-Employment Release form is completed & signed.
  • Inspect if the candidate has ever worked for/applied for the organization prior.

To ensure there are as many avoidable surprises later as possible, you will want to cover some of the following topics in a manner that ensures they are fully understood by the candidate:

  • Scheduling expectations for the position (Full time/Part Time, Evenings/Weekends, etc.)
  • Location of the position
  • Compensation plan (in detail – to include exempt/non-exempt, bonus structures, pay schedule, review time-frame, etc.)
  • Work Environment (in detail – if sales, include items related to a customer distribution system, turn over systems, split guidelines, etc.)
  • Organization’s Mission, Vision, Values/Principles & Culture:
  • Paid Time Off (Review of schedule for Vacation, Sick or Personal Days)
  • Opportunities for advancement (Include Coaching Programs, Philosophy for internal growth or relevance)
  • Company benefits have been explained & all questions have been answered (ie. health, dental, vision/rates, eligibility schedule, etc.)
  • Dress Expectations (Business Professional, Casual, Dress down day, Uniform, etc.)
  • Provide written material (brochure, flyer, latest newsletter, etc.) to the candidate for post-meeting review or reference.
  • Ask if the candidate has any questions and review the answers
  • Send a standard first interview recap email to the candidate that clearly communicates the next steps in the process (thanking, passing, scheduling for a second interview, etc.)

Make it fun and enjoy the process!  Invest the majority of the time with a candidate listening to them.  Don’t hang on every word said.  Look for relational coordination and competence.  Above all, do what you can to give people a chance…. You truly never know where it can lead.

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