9 Must-have Things to Include in Your Interview Checklist

Being part of candidate interviews is an important part of the recruiting process. Whether your client conducts the interviews or lets you take the reins, creating an interview checklist helps you better prepare.

Why you should have an interview checklist

An interview checklist lays out what you need to do during the interview process.

Interviews can be nerve-wracking for everyone involved. And when nerves are involved, things don’t always go as planned. Having an interview checklist can keep you, your client, and the candidate on track during the process.

Interview checklists are also good for consistency between candidates. You can use the same interview structure for each candidate and ask the same questions, which makes it possible to compare.

Taking the time to plan the interview process ensures you and your client are prepared. Writing down your plan helps you solidify it.

What to include in your interview checklist

You can develop an interview checklist for yourself, offer to create one for your client, or do both. Include things to remember during an interview on your checklist.

Creating an interview checklist requires planning. Consider including the following in your interview checklist for employer or recruiter. Add or remove items that don’t work for you and your client.

1. Plan the interview process

The first item on your interview checklist should be planning the interview process. To do this, you need to sit down with your client and identify the kind of candidate you are looking for.

If you don’t know the ideal candidate for the open position, you won’t source the right people. Find out what qualifications the candidate needs to have, including skills, experience, and education. Once you can identify the type of candidate needed, you can map out the interview process.

You and your client might consider a game plan for how long the interview process will take. For example, how long will you devote to sourcing, screening, and interviewing candidates? Approximately how long will the overall process take?

To help you plan the interview process, you can use recruiting software with an applicant tracking system (ATS) and CRM. Recruiting software lets you post jobs, parse resumes, track candidates, and store notes, helping you more easily cross off items from your interview checklist.

2. Come up with interview questions

Next, create interview questions that are tailored to the open position.

Before you conduct an interview, make sure to create a list of interview questions to ask candidates. You might include a few behavioral interview questions on your list, like:

  • Describe a time you made a mistake. Why did you make the error? How did you handle the situation?
  • Can you tell me about a time you came together as a team to address a problem?
  • What was the toughest project you had to lead, and why?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a change at work. Did it improve operations?
  • Have you ever gone above and beyond for a customer? What did you do?

If you forget to come up with standard questions ahead of time, you could run out of things to ask candidates during the interview. And, you might ask candidates completely different things, which makes comparing their answers impossible.

3. Develop an interview structure

You must decide how to structure an interview before you conduct it. Developing an interview structure is an important part of your interview checklist. It can help everyone involved in the interview stay focused.

Allot a certain amount of time to each step of your interview structure, and give yourself extra time just in case.

Here is an example format you might use to guide how you structure interviews:

  • Introduce yourself and give a rundown of the interview structure
  • Learn more about the candidate’s experiences
  • Find out whether the candidate’s skills match job requirements
  • Ask questions relating to the candidate’s values
  • Discuss your client’s company and the position
  • Go over the salary range for the position
  • Open the floor to candidate questions
  • Conclude the meeting

By structuring the interview, you can ensure that you have a game plan. You and your client might also determine whether they want to involve others in the interview, such as managers or key employees.

4. Create an interview scorecard

Interview scorecards help you structure the interview and keep it on track. Creating an interview scorecard can discourage you from going off on tangents or forgetting what candidates say.

An interview scorecard is a way for you to rank candidates for the position. After you determine the skills your client needs, you can create an interview scorecard.

Your interview scorecard should include the details being scored, rating scale, and baseline for education, experience, and skills. You can use your list of questions and rank candidates based on their answers. And, you can rank candidates based on their body language and introductions.

Take a look at this interview scorecard example:

Item Excellent Good Fair Needs Improvement Poor
Introduction 4 3 2 1 0
Answer to question #1 4 3 2 1 0
Answer to question #2 4 3 2 1 0
Answer to question #3 4 3 2 1 0
Answer to question #4 4 3 2 1 0
Answer to question #5 4 3 2 1 0
Body language 4 3 2 1 0
Ending the interview 4 3 2 1 0

Incorporating an interview scorecard as a step in your interview checklist helps you more easily compare candidates. Take detailed notes based on what candidates say to help you remember.

5. Do phone screenings

Before you can get to the main interviews, you should narrow down your candidate pool. Conduct phone screenings to get to know a little more about candidates and weed out the ones who would not be a good fit.

Phone screenings help you identify top talent. These are short phone conversations that are usually less than 30 minutes long. Conducting phone screenings ensures you don’t waste your or your client’s time conducting dozens of in-person interviews.

You can ask general interview questions to get to know the basics of each candidate. You might even ask some behavioral interview questions to prod a little deeper.

6. Identify top talent

Don’t forget to leave room to move candidates along the recruiting pipeline. This might seem like an obvious step in the interview process, but it can easily be put on the back burner.

Identifying top talent and extending invitations for in-person interviews should be done as soon as you have assessed your phone screening results. You might contact candidates via email or phone to let them know whether they are moving forward in the process or not.

7. Conduct in-person interview

Once you get to the main event—actually conducting the interview—take advantage of your preparations. Bring your list of interview questions and your interview scorecard. And, format the meeting according to your interview structure.

During the in-person interview, ask the candidate behavioral interview questions using your prepared list. Take notes, update your interview scorecard, and follow the interview structure outline.

8. Carry out pre-employment testing

Some hiring managers choose to incorporate pre-employment testing into the interview process. Employment tests can further reveal whether candidates are right for the job.

If you do decide to do pre-employment testing, make sure the tests are prepared and organized ahead of time. You can find standard tests on the internet.

Here are some types of pre-employment tests you might conduct:

  • Skills tests
  • Job-fit tests
  • Aptitude tests

You might add on pre-employment testing right after the interview, while the candidate is on the premises. Or, you might have them return at a later date to carry out pre-employment testing.

9. Discuss candidates with client

Make sure you take time to sit down with your client and review your notes from the interview. This can help your client come to a hiring decision. Assess which candidates stood out the most and why they would be an asset to your client’s company.

From here, you can extend the job offer to a candidate. And, you will need to notify the other candidates that they didn’t get the job. Conduct background checks or drug tests before onboarding the new hire.

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