Are You Qualified to Conduct an Interview?
Even if you’ve never conducted a job interview before, you probably know more about administrative responsibilities than anyone else in the department. That's undoubtedly why your boss asked you to help interview candidates for the position. With your help, your boss will hire the right employee and you will get the right person in your department—someone you know you can work well with.
What's the best way to prepare for the task?
Read each applicant’s résumé carefully. If the applicant has included work samples or other material, review it as well. Look for:
- Gaps in the person's employment history
- Job descriptions that don’t clearly explain what the person did in that position
- Career-path changes or discrepancies
Note your areas of concern, and prepare questions to address those issues. However, be careful not to jump to conclusions until you’ve heard the candidate’s explanation.
What kinds of questions should you ask?
Your boss and the human resource manager will probably have a list of basic questions that they generally ask all job candidates. However, they are relying on you—and your knowledge of the job—to discover whether a candidate is capable of handling particular administrative tasks. Therefore, you'll be expected to add some questions of your own.
Use your personal job description, notes or other information about your position to inspire your questions. For example, if part of the job description is to provide services for multiple departments, you might ask the candidate how he or she would prioritize tasks in such a setting.
Don’t leave out an important question just because you think someone else may have already asked it. It’s better to ask the candidate twice than to omit it from the interview.
If you are part of a team that is interviewing a candidate, limit your questions to the most important ones on your list so that everyone has a chance to speak.
Are there any risks?
Consult with your human resource manager ahead of time about what questions can be asked legally. For example, it’s illegal to ask about a candidate's marital and parental status, physical or mental health, nationality or religion.
What if the candidate has questions?
Since interviewing is often two-way interaction, be prepared to answer questions, too. Candidates may ask what kind of job training you’ll offer them, what you like best about your job, what it’s like to work with the people you support, and so forth. Have answers ready before the interview.
Make brief notes during the interview, but don’t focus so much on these notes that you’re not interacting well with the applicant.
What should you do after the interview has taken place?
Document what happened during the interview as completely and accurately as possible right away. This is especially important, because even after a day goes by, you can easily forget what you heard from one applicant, not to mention multiple.
Include the responses to your questions, as well as your impressions of the candidate. Also record the questions the candidate asked you. The applicant's questions can reveal how familiar the interviewee is with your company and the position, and will demonstrate his or her concerns about the job.
After all the interviews have been completed, your boss may ask you to join all those involved in the interview process for a debriefing to share opinions about the candidates. Be fair—but honest—with your opinions.
Although interviewing can be stressful for the interviewer as well as the job applicant, if you prepare ahead of time, the process should go smoothly and allow you to focus on the important task at hand—finding the right person for the job.
What if a test is required?
Find out well before the interview whether it would be appropriate to test the candidate. If you are not asked to conduct a test, perhaps you might want to suggest it. The test could measure competency regarding such things as software applications, basic grammar, spelling or math.
Again, as with all other aspects of the hiring process, planning ahead is essential. Come up with a test that identifies the essential skills you believe are needed to do the job. Always run your test by HR ahead of time.
— By Elaine Stattler