4 Steps To The Perfect Hiring Interview Agenda

I’m often asked by clients who are conducting hiring interviews, what the best form of interview outline would look like. The first thing I tell them is, always perform any interview like you would a good meeting. One of the best ways I know to do this, is to create an interview agenda or outline prior to beginning your interviews. Then, stick to the same agenda for ALL your interviews. This accomplishes 2 things:

1- It helps to keep you on track during the interview, ensuring you don’t leave anything out.

2- An agenda that you follow for all your interviews, helps to ensure you maintain consistency throughout the entire process. As you may know from any of my previous articles, consistency when it comes to interviewing, is paramount to a successful hiring outcome and we’re all about outcomes!

Check out my latest Vlog on this subject:


So what does the perfect hiring interview agenda look like? Here’s my take:


Greet the applicant, giving your name and position. Explain the interview’s purpose:

  1. To acquaint interviewer and candidate.
  2. To learn more about the candidate’s background and experience.
  3. To help the candidate understand the position and organization. Describe the interview plan:
  4. Briefly review positions/experiences.
  5. Ask questions to get specific information about those positions/experiences.
  6. Provide information about position and organization.
  7. Answer candidate’s questions about the position and organization.
  8. Point out that you both will get information needed to make good decisions.
  9. Indicate that you will be taking notes.

Make the transition to Step 2, the Key Background Review, by letting the candidate know you’re about to ask some questions regarding their current/past work history.


Ask questions to gain understanding of the candidate’s former major responsibilities/duties. Be sure to check to see if there were any changes in responsibilities as time went on.

Find out what they liked best about the position. What did/do they like least

Find out why they decided to (or why they are planning to) leave.


These questions should be pre-planned and written down here. They should be asked for every interview with every candidate and the answers recorded.

The questions should be divided into sections called ‘Question Dimensions’. The question(s) for each Dimension will focus on specific performance areas that are required for the specific position you are hiring for. As a general guide, take a look at the following examples of three Question Dimensions:

  1. Position Content & Scope
  2. Key Outcomes
  3. Overall Fit

You are certainly free to change, add or modify these Dimensions including the questions within them, to match your specific needs.

The questions in each Dimension should focus on how/what the candidate has done or accomplished in the past, which is directly related to the role being hired for.


1)     Additional Information – Buy some time

  1. a)      Ask a question to ‘buy some time’, while you also review your notes:

Question Example: Why should you be considered for this position?

  1. b)     The ‘buy some time’ question can be any unstructured question you want to ask. Although, generally, it’s the same question for every candidate.
  2. c)      The objective of the question is simply to allow the candidate to talk, while you review your notes and identify any last-minute questions you want to ask.
  3. d)     Review your notes while the candidate is answering the ‘buy some time’ question.
  4. e)      Ask any additional questions you might have from the ‘buy some time’ answer or if you have questions resulting from your review of your notes.
  5. f)      Provide information on position, organization, or location. (Note anything that appears to match or conflict with the applicant’s stated motivations and preferences.)
  6. g)     Give the candidate the opportunity to ask any final questions. This is the chance for the interview to take a more informal and conversational tone, as you wind down the meeting. Allow the candidate to talk about whatever is on their mind. (Take notes on the questions and discussion here.)

2)     End the interview.

  1. a)      Explain next steps in selection process. (When they will hear back. How long. Who will contact them. How will they be contacted.
  2. b)     Thank candidate for the interview.

That’s it! Now you have the perfect 4 Step agenda and outline for your next hiring interview.



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Then leave a comment below on your experience, thoughts or advise on the above ideas.

Want to put an end to ineffective, inaccurate and time-wasting hiring interviews? Please share this post with your network!


Lee Hodgins, CPHR works with entrepreneurs, business owners & hiring managers to leverage the power of hiring interviews to dramatically boost their effectiveness and accuracy in finding the most qualified job candidates. More information is awaiting you online at www.guerrillainterviewing.com

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