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  • RiverForest Connections

Guidelines for Effective Interviews


At the START

Re-read the job advertisement and job description. These clarify and reinforce the type of person being sought and help you to prioritize the information you want to put across. Refresh your memory about what we liked in the candidate’s application form or CV (it’s always a good idea to keep a copy). Consider what you would you like answered as the interviewer.


Think about skills, qualities and experience that you have to offer that are relevant to the job. Ask for specific experience that can act as an evidence that they can present to back up or add to the claims made on the application form? What specific examples can they add?


Interviewers try to gain as much information as possible from the applicant. The easiest way to accomplish this is by creating an atmosphere that allows the applicant to speak freely. The following are suggestions for fostering an atmosphere that is conducive to open discussion: Try to put the applicant at ease at the beginning of the interview. If the applicant feels comfortable, he/she will be more likely to share information with you. If you find that the applicant freezes on a particular question, you may want to go on to the next question.


It takes time for some applicants to relax and feel comfortable with the interviewing process. Try to ask questions that will facilitate discussion. Avoid questions that require a yes or no answer. Don't ask leading questions. Keep the questions open-ended so that the employee has the opportunity to speak freely. Be sure to ask only job-related questions. Listening skills are essential in an interview. It is important to let the applicant speak without being interrupted. Remember, the purpose of the interview is to obtain as much information as possible. While the applicant is speaking, watch his/her body language and facial expressions. These expressions will provide you with additional insight about what is being discussed at the time.

Probation: An employee is not on probation unless there is an express contract stating so. An employer should think about what it expects of an employee and state this prior to hire.

Non-competition clauses and injunctions: Prior to hiring a candidate, an employer should consider whether that candidate has obligations to his or her former employer; for example, whether the candidate must comply with a non-competition or non-solicitation agreement. If the candidate violates the agreement, the new employer may be liable for damages to the former employer. This is a particularly important consideration with fiduciary employees and other employees in positions of trust.


Following are some legal issues to keep in mind during the interview process:


Prohibited grounds: Questions related to prohibited grounds (i.e., involving a candidate’s race, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, or any other ground covered by human rights legislation) should be avoided. Inexperienced interviewers should be coached on what questions to ask and not to ask. As a rule of thumb, questions that are not demonstrably related to the job should be avoided. A rejected applicant, after going through the interview process, may claim that he or she was not hired due to discrimination based on a prohibited ground. An employer must be able to establish that it made its hiring decision based on objective and established criteria. If the rejected applicant is successful in his or her claim, awards may include an order for the employer to hire the applicant and an order for the employer to pay general damages.

Misrepresentation: Interviewers should guard against making promises that won’t be kept, painting too rosy a picture of what it is like to work for the organization, or misrepresenting the position posted. In fact, if there are negative aspects associated with the job or the organization’s culture, they should be disclosed. Not only does this prevent legal problems, but it also allows the candidate to make an informed choice if an offer is forthcoming. It also demonstrates a candor that will build trust with the candidate. Misrepresentations should not be made to a candidate about a position posted, particularly if the candidate is contemplating leaving another job to work for the company. A misrepresentation could expose the company to damages that the candidate suffered as a result of leaving his or her former employment, as well as to damages for mental distress.

Inducement: An employer should be very cautious if it decides to lure an employee away from another company. If this employee is later dismissed, he or she may be entitled to seek greater wrongful dismissal damages against the employer.

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