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10 Steps to the Perfect Interview

Gary Zelamsky

Gary Zelamsky, President

Do you want to hire the best people in your industry? A well-planned interview process is essential if you want to avoid the costly mistakes that burden your competitors. Here is what you need to do.


  1. Job Description - Start with a thorough job description. The description should include job responsibilities, required experience and education, and relevant personal qualities.
  2. Involve All The Right People – From the beginning, give stakeholders the chance for input -whether it is for the job description, an interview, or a meal or casual meeting with the candidate to check for cultural fit. To prepare interviewers, print this page for them. In advance, give them a copy of the job description and resume so they can adequately plan the interview.
  3. Greet – Begin on the right foot. If the candidate is flying in have someone meet him/her at the airport, or arrange for convenient transportation. Start the interview on time, and begin the conversation by building rapport. Do all you can to avoid interruptions. Treat the person like your future Most Valuable Player.
  4. Stay on Schedule – Respect the candidate’s time. If others are interviewing, give them a copy of the schedule and ask them to honor it. How many times has an interview been shortened or cancelled because an earlier interviewer was off schedule?
  5. Vary the Questions – In most circumstances, more than one person should interview candidates. One may ask about greatest accomplishments to determine a candidate’s characteristics and competencies. Another may use the job description and resume to create their questions. All interviewers should be versed in behavioral interviewing techniques to relate past achievements with the demands of the position.
  6. Sell the Company – Whether or not this is the ideal candidate, you want to leave a favorable impression about your company. Spend a moment talking about the strengths of the company. When speaking with a top performer, you may want to sell him/her on the company growth, career advancement, culture, excitement, flexibility, benefits, location, or opportunity to learn.
  7. Lighten Up – If taking the candidate to lunch or dinner, use the time to build the relationship, not for a nitty-gritty interview. If you are talking with someone who clearly is not Mr./Ms. Right, you can still be gracious and respectful of that person who took the day to meet with you.
  8. Stay Legal – Please, please, please make sure all interviewers are aware of legal issues in the interviewing process. Tell them about the types of questions they are not allowed to ask.
  9. Turn the Tables – At the end of every interview, ask the candidate “What questions do you have”? This is not only a courtesy for the candidate; it also gives you clues about the candidate’s priorities and values.
  10. Next Steps – Let the candidate know what comes next, and live up to your commitments. No matter how large the labor pool, star performers can receive multiple offers. Shouldn’t your company be the one they choose?

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