The Interview

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Sample Interview Questions

Sample Interview Questions

8 Jan 2003

This document contains a range of sample questions which may be suitable to ask at the interview process.

Quick Facts

Expect Nerves

It may be the first interview that the young person has ever been to, so expect them to be nervous. Being nervous can be a sign that they care deeply and are taking the process seriously. Try to make them feel comfortable during the interview process. It's a good idea to make the first question or two a non-threatening ‘ice-breaker’.

You may even wish to start with commenting about one of their hobbies or interests, or even the weather.

Make the Most of the Interview

The interview is a time of discovery for both you and the candidate. You obviously want to learn about the candidate, and the candidate will also want to learn about you and the business. You've only got a limited time to do this so you need to make the most of it and find out as much about the candidate, and their suitability, as you can.

Preparation

Make sure you plan for the interview. Keep a record of the name of applicant, the date and time of each interview and set aside an area for the interview, This should be preferably where you won't have interruptions by phone calls or passers by. Also remember to leave yourself plenty of time for the interview so that you and the applicant don't feel rushed. Approximately 45 to an hour is a good time to leave between interview bookings.

If you've received resumes take the time to read through each applicants resume prior to the interview and make notes for yourself if necesary.

If your applicants are phoning in, then have a few basic questions to ask them over the phone before booking them in for interview. You may wish to speak to them, take their name/number and phone the most suitable ones back with interview times.

Draft a list of standard interview questions to ask each applicant at the interview and ensure the same questions are asked of all applicants. This makes the process more objective and allows for easier comparison, as all applicants are providing the same information. If necessary, applicants may be asked to expand on a particular area of questioning.
Interviews should be done by more than one person where possible, as this creates objectivity.

Remember, if you are interviewing outside of business hours try to have another staff member on site or alternatively, allow the applicant to bring someone with them. It protects both yourself and the applicant and can make both parties feel more comfortable.

Provide a Job Description

Make sure to provide the applicant with information about the job applied for (Job Description) and an organisational profile. If possible, do this before the interview begins so the applicant has a chance to read through the information while waiting. If you have a website you can also promote the site in the job ad so that applicants can do some research about your business before the interview.

If you have another person interviewing with you, make sure that person also receives a copy of the Job Description and the applicants resume prior to interview.
Don't be afraid to ask the young person what, if anything, they know about your company. It gives you the opportunity to see if any of them have used their intitiatve in researching the company and/or how much interest they took in the organisational profile provided to them.

Questions

Ensure you ask a list of standard interview questions to each applicant, so you are comparing apples with apples when you're deciding upon the most suitable applicant for the job. Standard questions should be related to the job they are applying for and the experience the applicant has had.

In addition to the standard questions, the applicants resume or specific interview answers may prompt you to ask some additional 'one off' questions related to their particular skills or background.

Jot down notes during the interview so you don't forget which applicant is which. If there is anything that you are unsure about in their answers then ask them to clarify it or elaborate on the answer a bit more. Most young people aren't used to interviews so take that into account.

Minimise Jargon and Acronyms

Minimise the jargon and acronyms – it can be confusing and intimidating for the applicant. If you must use it during the interview, first make sure the person being interviewed understands it or else take the time to explain it to them.

Keep Feedback to a Minimum

Don't give too much feedback in the interview - let the applicant do most of the talking. Spend most of the time you have finding out about the applicant and probing for greater detail from their answers. This also allows you to assess the candidates communication and language skills.

Similarly, don't go into too much detail with the applicant regarding their interview performance. This may trip you up if you inadvertently say something which could be interpreted as discriminatory, or, should they wish to challenge your judgement.

Review Work Experience

Be sure to review work experience reports and ask them the best and worst thing they found about work. This may give you an idea of how they will fit in with your business and their suitability for the job they are applying for.

If possible, get the name of a previous or current 'work related' referee that you can personally speak to. Compare the reason for leaving offered by the applicant to that of the phone referee.

Look at Other Activities

Consider the applicants involvement in other activities such as sports teams, church programs and community service. These activities may demonstrate enthusiasm, reliability, commitment and teamwork – all valuable assets.

Check Attendance

School attendance as listed on school reports, may give you an insight into absenteeism issues. If the applicant seems to have had a lot of sick days make sure you ask them about it – there could be a genuine explanation, or an attitude problem.

Testing

Testing is common these days. A simple written technical test may help to test their aptitude or current skills level, especially for a trade.

Make sure to advise the applicant prior to arriving at the interview that there will be testing involved.
Remember, some people get nervous just hearing the word 'test', so try to take this into account. Some people soften it by saying things like 'a lengthy application' or 'skills assessment'.

Check Handwriting

If applicable, check the applicants handwriting by setting a test question and/or using an application form which allows you to view their writing, spelling and grammar.

Use School Reports as References

A young person may not have previous work references so you will need to look closely at School Reports. Review the subjects the person took at school and the results. This gives you an insight into their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses.

School reports also provide an insight into the attitude of the student and how they get on with others. Take the time to read through the teacher comments. These can often be subtle so reflection is worthwhile.

School leavers with less than favourable school reports or teachers comments will sometimes try to bluff you, claiming their school doesn't do them or that they have lost them. You may like to inform the applicant they are likely to make the short list, but without the teachers comments you will suspend the interview for two days, in order they can go back to school and get copies. You can also explain that if there is something on the report they are not proud of, they should talk about it now.
School reports are important but also remember that not everyone thrives in the school environment and a person who may have done mediocre at school may prove to be an outstanding employee. Look at other things as well, such as their attitude and outside school activities.

Closing the Interview

Make sure you ask the applicant whether they have any questions of you, and try to answer those before you begin closing the interview. In your discussions include information on the wages, probation period for the position and the type of employment you are offering (full time, part time, casual, traineeship, apprenticeship). Remember to thank the applicant for their time and give them an idea of when you expect to be able to get back to them with a decision.

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