Guidelines for Interviews

The interview allows the search committee to evaluate the candidate, and also permits the candidate to judge both the search committee and the University. An interview that is carefully planned, that allows the candidate to present himself or herself in the best possible light, that elicits the necessary job-related information, is a major element in recruitment. Before the interview begins, it is advisable to review the candidate's credentials and the position description. You may also wish to reflect on how to create an atmosphere of openness in the interview.

The questions to be asked of a candidate are of paramount importance in an interview. The search committee should have devised a group of core questions based on the job-related criteria by which candidates are to be evaluated. These questions should be asked of all candidates, thereby allowing comparative judgments to be made, while insuring that crucial job-related information is obtained. (Refer to Guidelines for Pre-Employment Inquiry.)

Under federal and state equal employment opportunity laws and the University of Nebraska at Kearney Nondiscrimination Policy, it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of an applicant's race, age, color, disability, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, marital status, or veteran status. Therefore, asking a question designed to elicit such information could be considered discriminatory, if the effect of the pre-employment inquiry is to put the applicant at an employment disadvantage ("adverse impact") and the employer cannot show that the inquiry is related to a bona fide occupational qualification. Developing questions ahead of time need not be unduly restrictive, for follow-up questions based on the responses to predetermined questions will most likely vary with each candidate. A patterned interview of this type has the beneficial effect of minimizing unconscious biases.

It is convenient to print the questions on a form with space below to record the candidate's responses and your reactions. The written remarks of the search committee members will not only aid in evaluating the candidate but will also be useful in providing a specific explanation of the applicant's status in the search process.

As part of the interview process, search committees often have the candidate meet with appropriate administrators, other department members and/or other university representatives. To obtain the maximum benefit from these interviews, the committee may circulate to all individuals with whom the candidate will meet a curriculum vitae, a copy of the position description, a copy of the interview schedule and an evaluation form based on pertinent hiring criteria.

Employment interviews are an indispensable part of the hiring process and when done properly, can be an excellent tool for screening applicants. Formal, pre-planned, structured interviews, in particular, can provide valuable information that can help employers assess the potential candidates' prospects for success in the position. Interviewers who have prepared in advance can provide a unique opportunity to:

  • Directly observe certain aspects of an applicant's behavior, such as ability to communicate, alertness, self-confidence, understanding of necessary technical concepts, etc.
  • Obtain additional information on the applicant's education, work experience, relevant community activities, or job-related interests that can supplement or fill gaps on written application materials.
  • Identify and assess the extent of the applicant's knowledge, skills and other characteristics or competencies by inquiring about past performance and achievements.
  • Preview the job, i.e., describe the job, what the organization expects of employees and what employees can expect in return--so that the applicants can determine whether or not they are interested in the position.
  • Identify the need for any accommodation that might be required to enable the applicant with a disability to perform the functions of the position.
  • Promote a good public image of the institution.

Adapted from: Handbook for Faculty Searches, The Ohio State University, 1987

Last Update: 10/97