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Interviewing and Hiring

Following is a suggested approach to interviewing and selecting the best applicant for a job.

Before the Interview
During the Interview
After the Interview

Before the Interview

Develop a success profile. A success profile is a list of competencies required to be successful in the job.

Step 1. Begin by listing the tasks required to perform the job. Review the formal job description, if you have one. Most written job descriptions contain a list of tasks required to successfully perform in the job. If you don't have a formal job description, observe employees performing the job first-hand or talk with employees in the same or similar jobs. Write down everything they do, step-by-step, while performing the various job functions. Examples include: interviewing complainants and respondents; preparing investigative reports; and testifying before a hearing officer.

Step 2. Identify other important aspects of the job that could influence the person's motivation to perform the job or remain with the organization. For example: frequent travel, overtime, community involvement, pay, demanding schedule, repetitive tasks, or unusual work culture.

Step 3. Describe the behaviors necessary to effectively carry out the tasks and be successful. These behaviors, or competencies, become your success profile. You should be able to identify between eight (8) and fourteen (14) competencies. Examples include:

  • Teamwork
  • Analytical thinking
  • Adaptability
  • Job motivation
  • Initiative
  • Ability to learn
  • Planning and organizing
  • Ability to communicate orally and in writing
  • Customer service orientation
  • Technical/professional knowledge

During the Interview

Use Behavioral Interviewing Techniques. Behavioral interviewing is based on the premise that past performance is the most accurate predictor of future performance. Behavioral questions are used to evaluate the candidate's past experience to determine if they have the competencies to be successful in the job.

Step 1. Identify the competencies you want to cover during the interview. The number of competencies that can be covered during an interview is dependent on the amount of time you have. If you cannot cover them all, select the competencies you feel are most important to be successful in the job.

Step 2. Develop the interview questions. You should have one question for each competency you want to cover during the interview. The questions should elicit responses that describe what the applicant actually did or said in a specific situation including background about the situation or task, action taken and results. Many times the questions will begin with the following introductions:

  • Give me an example of a time when . . .
  • Tell me about a situation where you . . .
  • Describe a time when you . . .

After the Interview

Rate the Candidates. A rating scale will ensure that the candidates are evaluated objectively.

Step 1. Develop the Rating Scale. Many interviewers use a five-point scale that ranges from 'Much less acceptable' to 'Much more than acceptable'. Adding descriptions to each score can be helpful if you are using an interview committee with multiple interviewers. For example, if the competency you are rating is 'teamwork', your scale and descriptions may look like this:

  1. Much less than acceptable: Showed little ability to work effectively in a team. Expressed desire to always work alone.
  2. Less than acceptable: Expressed willingness to work in a team if necessary but prefers to work alone. Has difficulty relating ideas to other team members.
  3. Acceptable: Has worked effectively with a team. Gets along with team members and works well toward a common goal.
  4. More than acceptable: Enjoys working in a group environment. Contributes frequently to the team. Has been part of a team that has been successful.
  5. Much more than acceptable: Seeks out team projects. Peers tend to look to this person as a team leader. Ideas are respected by all team members. Has demonstrated successful completion of numerous team projects.

Step 2. Rate the Candidates. For each competency area that you address during the interview, you will assign a score from your rating scale. After all the candidates have been interviewed, you can then compare scores.


Job Title: Administrative assistant for a large marketing firm


  • Coordinates and directs office services such as records and budget preparation, contact management and personnel issues to aid marketing executives
  • Assists in the preparation of budget materials
  • Prepares and maintains management reports
  • Files, maintains, arranges for storage, retrieves or reproduces documents, records and reports
  • Analyzes operating procedures to create new or revise existing methods
  • Reviews, assigns, prepares and tracks correspondence assignments
  • Maintains various databases
  • Studies management methods to improve workflow, simplify reporting procedures or implement cost reductions
  • Plans meetings, conferences and travel
  • Reads and responds to correspondence
  • Develop PowerPoint presentations for clients
  • Assist graphics team in conceptualization of client materials
  • Evaluate effectiveness, as well as assist in the creation of promotional materials
  • Represents marketing manager at meetings
  • Assists with preparation of publications and other materials

Other Important Aspects of the Job:

  • Twenty-five percent (25%) of time will be spent traveling
  • Overtime is common during peak workloads

Success Profile:

  • Planning/Organizing
  • Information Gathering
  • Analysis
  • Administration and Management
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Technical/Professional Knowledge

Behavioral Interview Questions:

  • Planning/Organizing: Give me an example of a time when you were placed in a situation that required you to use your organizational skills. Please describe the situation, what action you took and the result of your efforts.
  • Analysis (this also touches on Information Gathering): Tell me about a time when you were asked to improve a process or increase productivity. Explain the problem, your actions and the result of your actions.
  • Administration and Management: Tell me about a time where you were responsible for coordinating and executing a work assignment or project involving multiple staff members. Describe the assignment, your actions and the outcome of the project.
  • Flexibility: Give me an example of a time when you were faced with an unscheduled assignment that could not be completed during normal work hours? Describe the assignment, your actions and the outcome of the project.

Rate the Candidates:

Candidate 1  
Planning/Organizing 5
Analysis 4
Admin & Mgmt 4
Flexibility 5
Total Score 18
Candidate 2  
Planning/Organizing 4
Analysis 3
Admin & Mgmt 3
Flexibility 3
Total Score 13
Candidate 3  
Planning/Organizing 5
Analysis 3
Admin & Mgmt 3
Flexibility 1
Total Score 12
Candidate 4  
Planning/Organizing 3
Analysis 4
Admin & Mgmt 4
Flexibility 2
Total Score 13
Candidate 5  
Planning/Organizing 4
Analysis 5
Admin & Mgmt 5
Flexibility 2
Total Score 16

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