How to create an interview guide (plus what to include)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Interview guides are an important tool that allows HR teams to structure interview discussions and create a more effective and fair recruitment process. They also help you save time during the interview and ensure you cover all important topics. If you work in HR or business development and would like to enhance the company's recruitment process, consider creating an interview guide. In this article, we discuss what an interview guide is and what they include and provide a step-by-step guide on how to create an interview guide.

What is an interview guide?

An interview guide is a document that outlines a guide for organisation employees to follow when conducting candidate interviews. The aim of an interview guide is to help human resources staff and managers effectively conduct interviews and ensure that the candidate experience is similar for all applicants. They provide a list of questions for interviews to cover and include information on how to open and close an interview. An organisation may create multiple interview guides to cover specific job openings within the company or a general interview guide to cover all interview scenarios.

What to include when you create an interview guide

There are a few essential inclusions when you come to create an interview guide. The contents of an interview guide differ depending on the interview method you use, the position you're hiring for and specific organisational requirements. The following are valuable additions to an interview guide:

Welcome

The first section of an interview guide outlines how to greet applications and any necessary information to tell them before the interview gets underway. Some companies use the welcome to tell the candidate a little bit about the company, the responsibilities of the position, the name of the interviewer and their role within the company. You can also use this stage to ensure the candidate has brought any required documents with them or allow them to ask questions. A good welcoming statement can put the candidate at ease, allowing the interviewer to witness the candidate at their best.

Questions

Include structured questions in your interview guide to ensure interviewers ask all candidates a specific set of questions. Predetermining the questions you ask allows you to standardise the rating of candidates as you can easily compare their responses. Some topics that interviewers usually cover with their questions include qualification requirements, necessary skills and scenario-based questions.

Related: 71 good interview questions to ask candidates

Candidate questions

Interview guides also include a section for candidate questions. This section provides the candidate with an opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the position, company or next steps. The questions the candidate asks can tell interviewers a lot about why the individual wishes to work for the organisation, so there's usually a space for them to record these questions in the guide.

Wrap-up

This section reminds the interviewer to thank the interviewee for their time and notify them of how and when they can expect to hear back from the company. It also outlines the next steps for the applicant and provides the opportunity to collect any supporting documents necessary to make a final decision. The wrap-up also provides details on who the candidate can contact if they have any questions after they leave the interview.

Related: 15 questions to ask a hiring manager and the importance

Scoring

The scoring sections provide advice on how to rate candidate performances. If the interviewer hasn't scored candidates during the interview, they do so immediately after while their memory of the proceedings is still fresh. The interview guide stipulates how to divide questions into categories based on whether they determine if the candidate is a good fit for the job, company culture or team. How the company weights these questions depends on their priorities and requirements.

How to create an interview guide

There are certain steps you can follow to ensure you create a successful interview guide. Make sure to tailor your interview guide for the open position so that you score clients on the attributes and skills pertinent to the role. Some steps on how to create an interview guide include:

1. Determine which position requires an interview guide

A company doesn't need an interview guide for every position. Instead, determine what jobs require specialised skills or qualifications and create interview guides for them. You may also create interview guides when hiring multiple people for a certain position to streamline the recruitment process and get through the interviews in the shortest amount of time.

2. Meet with employees currently holding that position

Speak to employees who currently perform the role that you're hiring for. Doing so provides you with insights into the soft skills, extra responsibilities and attributes necessary to succeed in the position. Base your questions around these discussions to ensure you gain relevant information from the interviews.

3. Identify the necessary and useful skills for a role

Identify the key skills and qualifications required for the positions. You can find out about these key competencies by reviewing the job description or meeting with department managers. For instance, if you're looking to hire a sales consultant, some key skills to include are communication skills, customer service skills and time management skills. You also may look for someone who has experience working in a customer-facing environment.

Related: 5 time management interview questions (with examples)

4. Determine your question types

There are several types of questions you can choose from to ensure you learn the most about a candidate. Most interview guides require you to use a mix of questions to get varied responses from interviewees and test their ability to provide short and long answers. Some different types of questions to consider using include:

  • open-ended questions

  • closed questions

  • behavioural questions

  • opinion questions

  • case questions

In some instances, you can ask follow-up questions to the original question to extract more information from the candidate. Remember to base the interview questions on skills, competencies and qualifications required for the position. Consider using the STAR method to construct your interview questions. This involves asking questions based on certain situations the candidates found themselves in, tasks or goals they're working towards, actions they take to complete a specific task and results they achieved and what they learned from the process of getting there.

Related: What are competency-based interview questions?

5. Organise your interview guide

Put your interview guide in an order that makes sense to the interviewer. Ensure that you start with closed questions before moving on to more open-ended and case questions. Be sure to include follow-up questions immediately after the corresponding question to avoid confusing the candidate and disrupting the flow of the interview.

6. Proofread your interview guide

Proofread the interview guide and correct any grammar or spelling mistakes. Make sure that you read the document through one or two times before regarding it as complete. Ensure that the document is easy to understand and follow and includes all the important stages. You can determine the efficiency of the document by conducting a mock interview with the guide or asking another staff member to read through it and provide feedback.

7. Distribute your interview guide

Distribute the guide to recruiters, hiring managers and other staff members who may require access to it. Upload the document to a cloud-based interface where all department directors can view it. This also makes it easier to make and review changes to the document where necessary.

Interview guide example

Here is an example of an interview guide to facilitate better understanding:

Position: Sales consultant

  1. Greet the candidate and introduce yourself with your full name and position within the company.

  2. Ensure the candidate has brought along a copy of their CV as requested.

  3. Tell the client about the company's aims and how the position they're applying for contributes to these goals.

  4. 'Why did you decide to apply for this position?'

  5. 'Do you have experience working in a customer-facing environment?'

  6. 'Why did you decide to leave that position?'

  7. 'Are you familiar with marketing software?'

  8. 'Tell me about a time when you had an opportunity to further your career and took it.' Follow up with questions about the candidate's outlook on professional development and the results of their endeavours.

  9. 'A client doesn't like the changes you propose to their product, so how do you navigate this situation?' Follow up with questions about their conflict-resolution techniques and management style.

  10. 'A promotional campaign you're working on falls through. How do you deal with the fall-out of this situation?'

  11. 'How would you manage to complete four huge products in one week?' Follow up with questions that target the candidate's ability to delegate workloads and use project management software.

  12. 'Do you have any questions about the next steps of the application process, the company or the position?'

  13. 'How would you like us to contact you?'

  14. Thank the candidate for their time and let them know when they can expect to hear back and who they can contact if they have any further questions.


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