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Back to Basics: The Art of Interviewing

As we enter September and move into ‘back to school’ month it is the perfect time of year for a bit of a #SpringClean. This month we will be continuing our ‘back to basics’ series which we began last year when we covered, holidays, the probation period and the employment contract. This week we are looking at interviewing.

You’re well versed in your job, but when charged with making a new hire, you may find yourself wondering where to begin. In a candidate driven job market, it’s important to take the interviewing process seriously in order to attract the right talent. We’ve put together some of our most valuable tips to help you conduct a great interview and land the perfect candidate.

8 Quick Tips

  • Look for non-verbal pitfalls: Lack of eye contact, fidgeting, slouching.
  • Ask open ended questions: Questions that can’t be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Ask non-leading questions: ‘What do you like?’ versus ‘’Did you like…?’.
  • Be conversational: It should feel more like a discussion than a Q&A.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence: Give the candidate time to think about their answer.
  • Don’t be afraid to dig deeper: ‘Can you tell me more about that?’.
  • Follow the 70/30 rule: Listen 70% of the time, talk 30%.
  • Be your team’s brand ambassador: Remember to sell the opportunity.

Create a Positive Candidate Experience

Be Prepared

If this role is important for you to fill, then it’s important that you’ve prepared yourself for your meeting with the applicant. Show you have respect for them and the process by:

  • Greeting them promptly and warmly.
  • Do not take phone calls or check emails during the interview.
  • Being knowledgeable about the candidate’s background before the interview.

Put the Candidate at Ease

Engage in basic rapport building to start. This could be as simple as asking how their commute went or offering them something to drink. The more comfortable they feel, the more open they will be.

The Agenda

Before asking any questions, clearly state what you’re going to cover in the interview. Offering a brief outline will not only keep you on track, but make sure the candidate knows what to expect.

Uncover Potential

Gain an understanding of not only the candidate’s skills, but their motivations and goals through a series of open-ended and behavioural-based questions. By the end, you should know the following:

  • The reasons they left each job and what attracted them to each subsequent position.
  • Tasks they have been responsible for in their past jobs and what they liked or disliked about them.
  • The impact they have had on the companies they have worked for.
  • What gives them the most job satisfaction.
  • Goals for their next role and long-term career track.
  • The reasons they want to be hired for your open role.
  • What attracted them to your company.

Avoid These Questions

When it comes to what is and isn’t appropriate to ask a candidate, the parameters aren’t always clear. Play it safe and forgo the following subjects and questions:


  • Any question that can determine age should be avoided.
  • How old are you?
  • When did you graduate from school?
  • How long have you been working?

Personal Life

Asking questions about an individual’s family, health and living situations is inappropriate.

  • Are you single/engaged/married?
  • Do you have children or plan to?
  • Have you had any recent or past health issues?


Steer clear of any question that attempts to uncover someone’s national origin or ethnic background.

  • Are you a UK resident?
  • How long have you lived here?
  • Where is your family from?


Questions regarding religious views, political affiliations and sexual orientation are unacceptable and illegal.

  • Are you a part of any non-professional organisations?
  • Will you need personal time for religious holidays?
  • What party do you support?

3 Easy Steps to Closing the Interview

  • Open the floor to any questions the candidate may have. If you feel comfortable, share your initial feedback with he candidate and express any concerns you may have.
  • Let the candidate know where you are in the interview process, when they can expect to hear about next steps and when you’re hoping to have a decision made by.
  • Be sure to thank the candidate for their time, offer up a handshake as a signal to leave and walk the applicant out.

If you need help and advice regarding interviewing candidates, please do not hesitate to contact me or the employment team on 01133 50 40 30 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to be kept updated on HR and Employment Law issues, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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