Interviewing is a delicate process that requires time and finesse. People Leaders can prepare for interviews in the same ways that applicants do*.
*See advice provided for external applicants and internal applicants.
Application Screening Process
Begin with a current position description that includes:
- tasks and responsibilities
- a list of minimum competencies and requirements for the position.
Develop objective criteria for rating applicants by using the minimum competencies, education and skills noted on the position description. This is important to protecting our organization from legal challenge.
Create a rating sheet that can be attached to each application. See Sample Assessment Sheets (pdf)
Review all material submitted and check for consistency of information (responsibilities vs. wages, etc.).
Group candidates into the following 3 categories:
- Highly qualified
- Unqualified (doesn’t meet minimum requirements)
Rate & Rank
Rate each application using the objective criteria you have developed. Note the rating and rationale on each applicant’s rating sheet.
Rank the applications by score.
Interview those applicants with highest score.
Plan to interview and check the references of at least 3-6 applicants.
Preparing for an Interview
In the process of an interview, potential candidates are trying to sell themselves.
Familiarize yourself with the staff position description; determine the candidate’s worthiness in regards to the position description and the needs of the position in the context of your team.
Familiarize yourself with the candidate’s resume so that you can thoroughly discuss their work experience, education and training. Ask specific follow-up questions to ascertain skills and accomplishments gained at each employment.
Create a structure for the interview to ensure no opportunity is missed; a list of questions, determine order of questioners if there will be multiple interviewers.
When preparing for the interview, it can be helpful to review the following attributes that are valued by Cornell as an employer:
Skills for Success and Leadership Skills for Success
Working Well in a Team
Being Well Organized
Be prepared to speak to questions candidates might have about the position, the team, and Cornell as an organization. Candidates will consider an employer's environment beyond just the salary and base compensation. The final selling point to a candidate can be the feeling of a workplace environment or the ancillary benefits of working at Cornell.
Consult our Perks page for employee perks.
Review the Foundations of our Workplace, to review our general workplace philosophy.
Tips and guidance for conducting video interviews.Best Practices for Video Interviews
Leadership Interview Questions
How to use Cornell's Leadership Skills for Success model to gauge a candidate's behavioral competencies.Leadership Skills for Success Interview Questions
How to use Cornell's Skills for Success model to gauge a candidate's behavioral competencies.Skills for Success Interview Questions
Key Points For Interviewing Success
- Be familiar with equal employment guidelines and rulings on pre-employment inquiries and unlawful inquiries.
- Conduct the interview in a comfortable setting.
- Provide an overview of the job responsibilities.
- Schedule adequate, uninterrupted time for the interview and appropriate space to assure confidentiality. Keep to the allotted time.
- Put the applicant at ease.
- Remember to "sell" the organization. The Total Rewards of working for Cornell.
- Prepare job-related questions for interview and review applicant materials before the interview.
- Get specific with questioning to probe deeper into the initial responses.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Make sure the environment for the interview is relatively quite and private.
- Maintain control of the interview while encouraging the applicant to do most of the talking.
- Make a good impression; they will be evaluating you too. Be aware of your body language as well as the applicant's.
- Dispel your first impressions.
- Answer questions and explain next steps (timeline etc.).
- Listen attentively and take notes during the interview (may want to use a prepared assessment sheet (pdf) or scoring grid).
- Allow time for evaluation of applicant (in relation to pre-determined objective criteria) after each interview.
- Avoid asking riddles or brain teasers, there is no evidence that this questioning is effective to gain insight.
- Preferably, send candidates a majority, if not all, the questions that will be asked. There is evidence suggesting this is better for both the candidate and the leaders in assessing interview performance.
At the close of the interview, ask the candidate, “Do you have any questions for me?”
Questions could include more information on the position or organization, follow-ups on information they learned in the interview or anything they may need clarification on. Examples of potential candidate questions to prepare for include:
- What are the responsibilities of this position?
- What qualities are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
- What are the reputations, training and tenures of the employees in this department?
- Do you support professional development? How?
- What do you see as the biggest challenge that someone would face during the first month, six months, year on the job?
- What projects do you see materializing over the next year?
- What is your supervisory style?
- What do you like most/least about working here?
- What more do you need from me?
- When are you planning to make a decision?
- What is the next step?
Following Up and Next Steps
It is important to debrief after the interview with any fellow interviewers or decision makers. How has your perception of the candidate changed? Did the interview provide clarification on the candidate’s fit for the position? Make sure everyone on the team making the hiring decision has the opportunity to debrief and offer their opinions.
If a candidate meets with your approval, move forward with next steps in the offer process quickly. Candidates today are typically applying to multiple jobs simultaneously, and expediency in the hiring process can help land the ideal candidate.
Gather feedback from interviewers or search committee members on candidates using an interview assessment tool (see Sample Assessment Sheet below)