Preparing questions for interview

Before the interview the Panel Chair should convene a meeting of the interview panel to plan carefully the questions that are going to be asked. It is important that the questions cover all the areas on the PS in order to assess whether the candidate meets all of the essential criteria needed for the post.

When writing questions ensure that you know what response you are anticipating, so that you can fairly assess how full an answer the candidates give. Be prepared to probe further or reword questions.

All interviews should use open questions which encourage the candidate to talk. These begin with words like who, what, which, where, why or how, with phrases like ‘tell me about...'

Open questions are useful because they invite expression of ideas, views and opinions and can encourage reticent interviewees to talk. However they also are more difficult to answer so the interviewee may need thinking time and can also give broad answers.

Behavioural questioning is a good technique to use. This is based on the idea that the best guide to future performance is past behaviour. It seeks examples of how an individual has worked previously in order to see whether they will demonstrate the skills required for this job.

The university has an interview question bank which can be used to gain ideas on what questions to ask.

It is important that the questions are not leading or discriminatory.  Beware of asking hypothetical questions as these lead to hypothetical answers which may not reveal much about the interviewee’s actual experience.  Candidates who describe what they ‘might’ do are likely to give textbook answers rather than show what they would do in reality.

Avoid closed questions that invite solely ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, unless these are used to check the answers previously given.

Questions may need to be adjusted for disabled candidates.