Table of Contents
Table of Contents
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What Is an Interview Plan?
An interview plan is a blueprint or map you create before an interview takes place. It lists the questions you plan to ask, providing a more fluid, comfortable, seamless interview for all involved.
Why Are Interview Plans Helpful?
Let’s review some tangible ways this may be helpful for your hiring process.
- Allow for more accurate answers. When you come prepared to the interview with well-thought-out questions, you’re going to get right down to the issues and encourage your interviewee to do the same. When you curate your questions beforehand, they will undoubtedly be more focused, ensuring that the answers you receive are as well.
- Spark more dialogue. As you create the list of questions you plan to use, you’re able to follow the train of thought of one question and derive follow-up questions prior to the interview. This preparation makes the interview less stressful for you as the interviewer and provides more follow-up and clarification possibilities.
- Easily adjusted. You can use an interview plan from an entry-level position and add in a few questions for a mid-level or even managerial-level hire. Once you have the template you want to use and have seen it work well, it’s easily customizable for future interviews.
Types of Interview Planning
There are two general types of interview planning that correspond to the types of interview you wish to conduct.
The detailed interview plan is best used for lengthier or behavioral interviews. It curates more open-ended questions to garner relevant job-related answers that can help you better understand the interviewee. Think of this type of interview plan as a ladder. You start at the bottom with basic questions about the candidate’s work history and work your way up to questions about their career goals, future job selection, and the detailed history questions that will provide you with the necessary information to make a qualified hiring decision.
A structured interview plan is most beneficial for cultural interviews or your initial phone screen with a candidate. The questions here are more along the lines of a questionnaire; you use less open-ended questions and are seeking clear answers. Here you’ll want to include cut-and-dry questions like why they are looking for a new job or what drew them to your organization. The structured plan gives you insight into the interviewee in a way that if you were to just hand the candidate a piece of paper with the questions on it, they could easily fill it out without much back and forth dialogue.
Main Components of an Interview Plan
An article or a speech is structured with an introduction, the body of content, and conclusion: first you tell them what you’re going to tell them, then you tell them, and then you tell them what you told them. Crafting an interview plan is much the same: you tell them how it’s going to go, ask the questions, and sum up at the end.
Here you’re going to welcome the interviewee and explain how the interview will go and what they can expect throughout their time with you. You may include a brief outline and set the expectations of the interview clearly as you proceed to the next step.
The body of your interview plan is where the bulk of your dialogue comes in. Ensure you have enough questions here to drill down to the objective of the interview and give you the answers you’re looking for.
To recap the interview, hit on a few key points you appreciated from their dialogue with you and go over next steps and expectations.
Don’t make the interview planning process more difficult than it needs to be; it’s truly just these three core components to set you up for success in your ultimate hiring decision.
Tips for Effective Interview Planning
Let’s look at the best tips for creating interview plans for your organization.
Tip 1: Start With the Candidate/Position in Mind
While you can use the same interview plan for multiple interviews and positions, when you’re creating one from scratch, think specifically about what you want to derive from the interviewee and curate your questions around that. If you’re looking for a marketing person with the ability to run with your social media platforms, your interview plan would focus more on their social media marketing experience. Take the time to evaluate each role and what would be the best information for you to gather.
Tip 2: Break the Ice
No matter who you are or how long you have been involved in interviews, they can still be intimidating for both the interviewee and interviewer. Take the time to put the interviewee at ease and let them know a bit about you and the company to establish a bit of rapport with the candidate from the beginning. This sets a positive blueprint for your time together.
Tip 3: Start Slow
It’s best practice to start off slow and ease your way into the harder questions. Don’t come into the interview straight away asking why they were fired or if they are willing to take a pay cut to work for your company; start at the basics, establish a relationship, and work your way up to those questions. Remember, you’ll get the best responses out of an interview if the candidate feels more comfortable, so create your baseline questions about their previous experience and what led them here.
Tip 4: Leave Room for Dialogue
You can have the most detailed interview plan out there with every follow-up question you can think of, and then one interviewee will completely throw it all off with a dialogue way out in left field you never saw coming. Leave room for that dialogue in your interview plan. You never know the direction one question may send an interviewee. You may ask a candidate why they are leaving their current job and find out they were unexpectedly laid off this morning, and that can send the interview down a completely different path. Leave some time in your interview plan to allow you to jot down notes from those additional dialogue moments.
Tip 5: End Well
Once you’ve made it to the end of your interview, be sure you take the time to close the discussion well. Thank the interviewee for their time and the information they shared with you. Leave room for questions and closing dialogue. Include next steps and a timeline of the interview process with your organization. Let them know things like how many interviews your organization will do for this position, when they can expect to hear back from you, and when the final decision is likely to be made. Keep that positive energy going to end on a good note with the candidate.
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Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department “of one”, working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!