How To Interview a Candidate


When it comes to hiring the best employees, the interview process is extremely important. The questions you ask candidates go a long way in revealing the person's strengths and weaknesses. If you don't ask the right questions, you won't really have a good idea of whether or not the candidate is a good match. Here are some interview tips to keep in mind to help you hire the best employees.

People are the most important assets of companies. Great people, make a great culture, and can make or break a company. The importance that interviewing and hiring has on the fate of your current employees, culture, and company, we as interviewers too often “wing it” for a myriad of reasons. We all have great intentions, but with time constraints and the speed of business, this is one area that outside of HR, most of us can just go with our gut rather than invest time in creating a process. 

However, with some coordination and planning the candidate interview experience can improve and the overall hiring and decision-making process can be streamlined.

Basic Interview Tips

When considering how to interview a candidate, it's important to follow some guidelines.

  • Know why you're interviewing each candidate. Consider what technical qualifications you're looking for as well as clues as to whether someone is a suitable cultural fit for your organization.
  • Thoroughly prepare for each interview. Read over candidates' resumes. Check their LinkedIn profiles. In addition to more general questions you prepare, think of some questions that are especially relevant to each particular candidate.
  • Have a list of 10 to 20 questions to ask candidates. You don't necessarily have to use all of these questions. However, it's good to have them on hand in case you ever forget what to ask
  • Create interview guides. Rather than a random list of questions, create interview guides and categorize questions by competencies for various positions within your organization to speed up the interview preparation process and help your team find the right questions to ask candidates for different positions.
  • Give yourself enough time. Clear 30 minutes before and after the interview so you don't have to feel rushed.
  • Take down notes immediately after the interview. While the conversation is fresh in your mind, jot down your impressions and any relevant points about the candidate and interview.

Keep “CAR” in Mind

When considering how to interview a candidate, one of the most helpful tools to keep in mind is “CAR,” which stands for Context, Action and Result. Let's take a look at how you can incorporate this idea in your interviews.


This refers to the environment or situation. For example, if you ask the candidate a question such as "Talk about a problem you solved in a previous position," he or she should provide an answer that makes the context clear. This includes the type of company, the current issue at hand and how the solution was specifically tailored to that situation. If the candidate doesn't provide this, ask follow-up questions to clarify matters.


When candidates talk about their former positions and accomplishments, you're most interested in actions. What did he or she do to bring about improvements? What skills were displayed? Action is the driving force behind all progress.


The result is obviously a crucial part of the formula. Action is only valuable if it brings about the desired result. If people are telling you about their impressive credentials and abilities, make sure they can also point to specific results as well.

In addition to these tips, keep in mind that interviews take up valuable time, both for you and the candidates. People are probably taking time off work to attend the interview. They deserve your full attention and careful consideration.

If you’re looking to find candidates for IT jobs at your company, you may want to consider working with a staffing company such as Cohesion. Get more information about our IT staffing solutions here.

John OwensComment