Interviewing Candidates and Identifying Finalists

A blue circle with speech bubbles in conversationThe following sections outline the steps to take for a successful interview process and as well as how to conclude the search once a finalist has been identified. See If You Are Not Finding Suitable Applicants/Candidates or, in rare cases, If the Candidate Rescinds the Job Offer as applicable for further considerations.

 

 

  1. Review and Execute the Résumé Review and Interview Implementation Plan. See Interview Structures for interview types.

  2. The Search Committe is Responsible for Interviewing All Candidates.

  3. Develop Interview Questions.

    • To aid your development of interview questions, review the job posting and compile a list of required attributes identified from the job posting.

      1. Required attributes can be identified by reviewing the job posting.

      2. Required attributes can also be identified by taking a look at your top performers. What professional qualities do your top performers have in common? What did your top performers accomplish prior to working at your organization?

      3. Required attributes can also be identified by reflecting on the key relationships and clients this position engages with and understanding what would be required to build and maintain strong relationships. For example, if this position works closely with strongly opinionated faculty and would also work closely with a manager with the opposite personality, adaptability would be an attribute to include on your list.

    • Based on your list of attributes, construct “open-ended” questions (instead of yes or no) that elicit detailed responses and that give candidates opportunities to offer examples and/or provide insight as to how they would approach challenges that highlight each attribute. For example, if the required attribute is flexibility, the open-ended question could be the following: how would you handle making an important decision for which no policy/procedure exists?

    • Consider Competency-based interview questions.

      1. A competency is a particular quality that is identified as desirable for employees to possess. During the interview and assessment processes, competencies are used as benchmarks that the interviewer can use to rate and evaluate candidates. For example, you may need to know about someone’s ability to deal with conflict. You will then seek evidence from the candidate by asking them about their experience of dealing with conflict and getting them to outline what happened, how they approached it, and the outcome. The competency based question on conflict could be the following: Describe two situations in which you exhibited foresight to identify and diffuse conflicts before they occurred.

      2. Examples of interview questions based on competencies can be found here.

    • Six to ten interview questions are appropriate for a 45- to 60-minute interview.

    • All interview questions must be relevant to the performance of the applicable position.

    • Certain subjects or areas of inquiry are unlawful or inappropriate topics for interviews. Refer to the   Leaf Icon Recruitment Resource: EEO Considerations in Interview Questions (PDF).

  4. Schedule Interviews.

    • Interviews are scheduled within the timeframe established in the résumé review and interview implementation plan. The search committee chair (or designee) leads the effort of scheduling interviews. See Sample Invitation to Interview for a sample communication.

    • Barring emergencies, all committee members should attend all interviews.

    • Interviews should be scheduled at least a week in advance (longer lead times needed if travel is required).

    • Be flexible when setting interview times. Some candidates may have current jobs without flexibility to attend an interview in the middle of the day. In those cases, consider early morning or late afternoon interviews.

    • Set a strict time limit for each interview.

    • Don’t be afraid to ask experienced colleagues for interview scheduling tips.

    • Provide the following information to candidates prior to the interview:

      1. Location, time, and approximate length of interview.

      2. Instructions and directions for reaching the building, clearing security, and contacting the appropriate person on the day of the interview.

      3. Names and titles of search committee members.

      4. Any additional materials they are expected to bring (e.g., writing sample).

  5. Create and Interview Agenda. 

    Leaf Icon Recruitment Resource: Interview Agenda and Questionnaire (PDF)

  6. Schedule an Additional 15-30 Minutes After Each Interview. The extra time after each interview will allow the search committee an opportunity to complete their note taking, have thoughtful reflection, and determine if any follow-up questions are needed from the candidate.

  7. Conduct the Interview.

    • Follow the established interview agenda.

    • Ensure success. The following are elements of a Successful Interview:

    1. Starts and ends on time.

    2. Interviewers are prepared and have reviewed the interview agenda, applicant materials, and interview questions.

    3. Stressors are limited:

      1. Interview location is comfortable and free of distractions.

      2. Interviewers are relaxed and exhibit collegial behaviors towards the candidate.

      3. Candidates are provided (in advance) names and titles of search committee members, informed if they are expected to bring additional materials to the interview, and provided clear and easy directions to the interview location.

    4. Interviews are conducted fairly and consistently.

      1. What applies to one candidate should apply to all candidates.

      2. Additional follow-up questions during the interview are okay.

      3. Cover all planned questions with all candidates.

    • Be aware of the following biases during the interview process

    1. Halo Effect. Interviewer lets one favored qualification, trait, or experience influence all other factors resulting in an unduly high overall rating.

    2. Horns Effect. Interviewer lets one unfavorable qualification, trait, or experience influence all other factors resulting in an unduly low overall rating.

    3. Similarity Effect. Interviewer judges a candidate based on characteristics the interviewer sees in himself/herself.

    4. Stereotyping. Assumptions that certain candidate traits will make them better or worse in the job.

  1. Conduct a Search Committee Deliberation.

    • Deliberate after all interviews are completed.

    • Schedule the deliberation no later than the day after the final interview.

    • The deliberation process should be consistent with expectations established at the charge meeting.

    • All search committee members should participate and provide observations of each candidate.

    • If any ranking or rating system is applied, it should be applied consistently to all candidates.

    • If needed, the search committee chair (or designee) can contact a candidate with clarifying follow-up question(s). For example, “name the specific technology software mentioned during the interview.” Be careful not to introduce an entirely new question unless there is an agreement to follow up with all candidates who were interviewed.

  2. Finalist(s) Recommended.

    • Finalist(s) are identified based on the terms agreed upon at the search charge meeting.

      • In rare cases, the search committee could reach this point without being able to identify finalist(s). In this situation, the applicant pool could be reviewed to determine if there are other applicants in the pool the search committee would consider qualified and interview. If no other qualified applicants are in the pool, actions can be taken outlined in If You Are Not Finding Suitable Applicants/Candidates.

    • Ensure decision is based on sound judgment, is nondiscriminatory, and complies with applicable federal, state, and local EEO laws as well as GW’s hiring policies (e.g., at least three candidates were interviewed).

    • Disposition Applicants: Within a couple of days after the search committee concludes deliberation, the search committee chair communicates to candidates with a telephone call (at minimum a personal email) informing them that they are not a finalist. See Sample Communications for a sample communication to candidates interviewed but not selected. The HR representative is informed to disposition applicants (in the PeopleAdmin system) who are not considered for the next stage.

      • In some cases, the search committee could decide to not select an applicant but not reject them entirely. In these cases, the search committee chair communicates to these individuals with a telephone call (at minimum a personal email) within a couple of days after the search committee deliberations conclude. See Sample Communications for a sample communication to candidates interviewed but not selected but not removed from consideration. Do not disposition these applicants through PeopleAdmin until the recruitment process is complete.

    • Search committee chair presents finalist(s) to the hiring manager based on the terms agreed upon at charge meeting.

    • Hiring manager conducts interview with the finalists(s) or the next appropriate recruitment action is taken as indicated in the résumé review and interview implementation plan.

  1. Hiring manager identifies a selected candidate. The hiring manager communicates the decision to the search committee chair (in some cases a runner-up may also be identified).

  2. Search committee chair informs the HR representative of the decision.

  3. Hiring proposal (HP) for selected candidate submitted through PeopleAdmin by HR representative.

  4. EEO review of HP through PeopleAdmin.

  5. Hiring manager (or designee) conducts professional reference check(s).

    Leaf Icon Recruitment Resources:

    • Telephone Reference Check (PDF)

    • Telephone Reference Check Fundamentals (PDF)

      • At least two supervisor references are required for external hires.

      • Internal transfers do not require two professional reference checks; however, they still do require follow-up with the employee’s current HR Director. This check should be done at the same time that the professional reference check would be taking place.

      • The Telephone reference check form can be found in the PeopleAdmin system.

  6. Conditional Offer.

    • The hiring manager (or designee) assesses the qualifications of the selected candidate and considers budget constraints and compensation market data to identify a proposed salary.

      • Consult your HR representative to assist with obtaining compensation market data and for additional expert guidance with identifying a proposed salary.

    • The hiring manager (or designee) communicates the conditional offer to the selected candidate and makes a case for GW. See Making the Case for GW for considerations.

      1. The selected candidate may counter-offer. However, no final decisions as to salary, incentive amounts, or any other terms and conditions of employment are agreed upon in that first negotiation unless there is prior explicit approval from the appropriate GW stakeholders (i.e. department, FD, and/or Compensation). It is generally recommended that you extend a note of thanks to the selected candidate for their interest, note that their proposal will be presented for consideration, and let them know that you will be back in touch as soon as is practical. Tips for negotiating salary with the selected candidate can be found here.

      2. The hiring manager (or designee) consults with the HR representative, department, and FD to see if the counter-offer is possible. Additionally, if the counter offer is outside of the relevant “entry”, “emerging”, and “expert” salary ranges based on the selected candidates experiences, then the counter-offer must also be approved by Compensation.

      3. Once the counter-offer is finalized with GW stakeholders, the hiring manager (or designee) contacts the selected candidate and finalizes the offer.

        • Best Practice: Take an interest in the selected candidate’s decision process: reach out with a telephone call, asking “As you consider our offer, is there anything I can answer for you to help you make a decision?” Share GW resources or put the selected candidate in contact with potential future colleagues who share an interest, or a future colleague who will assist the new employee on the first day of working at GW.

  7. Keep finalist(s) engaged: If the time between the conclusion of the finalist interviews by the hiring manager and the offer is longer than anticipated, the search committee chair (or designee) communicates to finalist(s) the status of the process. Consider sending a communication such as the following: I wanted to touch base with you so that you wouldn’t think I had forgotten you! The hiring manager expects to make decisions for his/her XXXX position by XXXX. I’ll be getting back to you as soon as I can after I hear from him/her. In the meantime, please let me know of any questions you have for me or anything new on your end that the hiring manager should know about.

  8. Selected candidate accepts conditional offer. See If the Selected Candidates Rescinds the Conditional Offer for considerations if necessary.

  9. Disposition of finalist(s): Within 24 hours after the selected candidate accepts the conditional offer, the search committee chair communicates to finalist(s) with a telephone call (at minimum a personal email) informing them that they are not the selected candidate. This communication is followed by the dispositioning of the finalist(s) in PeopleAdmin by the HR representative. See Sample Communications for a sample communication to finalists(s) interviewed but not the selected candidate.

    • In some cases, the hiring manager may have identified a runner-up. In these cases, the search committee chair communicates to the runner-up with a telephone call (at minimum a personal email) within 24 hours after the selected candidate accepts the conditional offer. See Sample Communications for a sample communication to the runner-up. Do not disposition the runner-up through PeopleAdmin until the recruitment process is complete.

  10. HP for selected candidate with conditional offer information is submitted through PeopleAdmin by the HR representative.

  11. TAR reviews the HP, creates the offer letter, and sends to the selected candidate.

  12. Background screening initiated by TAR.

    • If the selected candidate is determined to be ineligible for hire based on the background screening results, TAR will notify the hiring manager, designee, or HR representative, followed by taking the appropriate steps to have the offer rescinded.

  13. Selected candidate signs the offer Letter. See If the Candidate Rescinds the Job Offer for considerations if the selected candidate rescinds the conditional offer.

  14. Final disposition of applicants. Within five (5) days after the selected candidate signs their offer letter, the search committee chair communicates to the runner-up and candidates that were not selected but not removed from consideration via a telephone call (at minimum a personal email) informing them that they are not the selected candidate. This communication is followed by the dispositioning of their application in PeopleAdmin by the HR representative. See Sample Communications for sample final communications to the runner-up and/or candidates that were not removed from consideration.