In-person interview: questions and answers, preparation, rules

In-person interview is an integral part of recruiting and a vitally important stage at which you can and should get all the necessary/missing information about the job seeker. How to properly prepare for it?

In-person interview definition

What is an in-person interview? A personal interview is an interview between a recruiter and a job seeker in which they communicate face-to-face. This interview can be of three types:

  • Individual – the recruiter and the candidate communicate face-to-face;
  • Group – several candidates are interviewed at the same time;
  • Panel – several company representatives interview one candidate.

The most popular way is the individual interview, and beginners usually start with this.
An in-person interview interview will help determine what the candidate is in communication, will confirm/not confirm the information indicated by the job seeker in the resume, will help define competencies, etc. Also, as part of such an interview, you can assess the candidate’s knowledge. For example, ask to complete a test task or solve a problem to see how a person thinks.
The in-person interview helps to optimize the search and selection of personnel. First of all, the recruiter gets the opportunity to assess personal qualities and has scope for activity – you can experiment with different interview techniques. You can observe how the candidate reacts to some situations, thanks to which we filter out candidates who are not suitable. Thus, the recruiter can check the theoretical and practical knowledge of the candidate, his reaction to some situations and make sure that he has the right skills.
personal interviews

Where to start preparing?

First of all, the HR manager must schedule the interview. Not in your memory, in a daily planner, organizer, ATS. This is important because:

  • you will understand how much time there is to prepare;
  • you will not find yourself in a situation where you need to be in two places at the same time;
  • there will be no situation where you have many interviews per day.

Let’s take a closer look at the last point. Don’t schedule too many interviews. In the short term, this leads to emotional fatigue and decreased concentration. As a result, you may be missing out on something important. In the longer term, overloading will lead to professional burnout.
To prevent this, we recommend you to schedule not more than 3-4 interviews per day, lasting 30-40 minutes. It is also critically important to warn all those involved. Notify the job seeker about time and place, and ideally, provide him with a map. Warn guards about the arrival of the candidate. If you planned a panel interview, agree upon it with all participants.

Resume re-examination and scorecard

Preparing for an interview begins with re-examining of the resume. Even if you have repeatedly looked at the resume before (for example, if you had a telephone interview before the personal interview), it will not be superfluous to look again.
Check the information the candidate has given you through their LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Perhaps there are some inconsistencies. If you have basic information after the telephone interview, analyze it. Write all points of interest. Built your questions around them.
We also recommend drawing up a scorecard. Especially if you are a beginner recruiter. It should contain the qualities and skills needed for a specific position. If you are a beginner, such a structure will help facilitate the interview process.
When compiling such a list, remember that there is no perfect candidate. Everyone will have flaws. The primary goal is to compare candidates using the same metrics and choose the right ones from them.

How to write in-person interview questions?

If you have analyzed your resume, prepared a scorecard, and ideally have the results of a telephone interview – this is your basis for writing questions.
There can be no single list of questions in the work of a recruiter. Everything is purely individual, based on the information that you already have. But the general base might look like this:

  • it is important to understand what prompted the specialist to change job, and whether it arose due to problems in the team, incompetence, etc. Not everyone is ready to honestly answer such questions, so the “skill of talking” and seeing the truth between the lines can be really useful for a novice recruiter
  • What is the candidate’s motivation? Does he want to achieve results, or is only the sheer fact of employment and earnings significant to him? Does the job seeker know what he wants?
  • Experience, competence, quality. Everything is clear here – the candidate must have the knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics that are relevant to a particular position.
  • Requirements for conditions – salary level, additional “goodies”, working conditions (for example, remote work, if possible), etc.

All subsequent interview questions are built based on these main 4 points. The number of questions may vary. Approximately 15-20 will be enough for a recruiter or HR, assuming an average response time of 2 minutes.

Job interview example

If you are a beginner recruiter and do not have much experience in recruiting, it is recommended to develop a script. A structured interview in the first step will help you not miss out on anything important. A basic script might look something like this:

  1. Exchange greetings and introduce yourself. Explain the purpose.
    Hello. My name is ___, I am a recruiter (or HR) of the ___ company, in the next hour, we will talk to about the vacancy. The interview will consist of such stages….
  2. Ask a simple question to take the heat out of the situation.
    Did you find our office quickly? Did you have any problems while you were getting there?
  3. Identify the need.
    Why did you decide to change jobs? Why did you choose our company?
  4. Ask a couple of questions about the company.
    What do you know about our company? Do you use any of her products? 
  5. Ask professional questions.
    What is your work experience? What successes have you achieved in your previous job? What skills and abilities do you consider the most important for completing your tasks?
  6. Optionally, simulate a situation.
    You are communicating with a frumious client who was very dissatisfied with the quality of the work. What will you do?
  7. Find out the motivation of the job seeker.
    List the 5 points that you think are most important in your new position?
  8. Present your work in the company.
    We work from 10:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m., most of the work carried out in the office, but three times a month employees can work remotely.
  9. Discussion of conditions
    What are your financial expectations? What do you need to work on, and when are you ready to start?
  10. Word to the job seeker
    Do you have any questions about the company or position?
  11. Farewell
    Thank you for taking the time for this interview. You can contact me at any time by phone. We will analyze the results and report our decision within a week.

This is a rough interview script that you can target. Modify it according to the specifics of your work.
If we are talking about mass recruiting in the case when a telephone interview is not enough, then it is worth spending no more than 10-15 minutes on an individual conversation, asking only professional questions and focusing only on key skills A mass recruiting interview is, first of all, a way to supplement and verify the information provided in the resume. Therefore, the interview must be carried out quickly and as concretely, as possible.

Features of conducting a personal interview

An in-person interview is not an interrogation or casting. It is a two-way road. Not only you will be asking the questions, but also the candidate, and this is important to consider when preparing. Prepare in advance the answers to the key questions the job seeker might ask. Do not treat interviews as if the job seeker needs them more. The candidate may find a job at another company. Therefore, you should be respectful and delicacy for all job seekers. There are some simple rules to help a new recruiter choose the right tone for a conversation. Let’s consider them briefly.

Be careful with over-niceness

Again, an interview is not an interrogation, and if you are too meticulous about every question and every little thing, the job seeker may not understand this. However, meticulousness should not be confused with healthy interest. You really should clarify all controversial points with the candidate, but if you understand everything, you do not need to dwell on one question.

Start simple

It’s best to always start with simple questions. It is often difficult for candidates to get together and get involved quickly from the very beginning. It is better to ask the simplest questions so that the job seeker can feel the rhythm, relax a little and prepare for more difficult ones, tune in to constructiveness

Be careful with personal questions

It is especially true for stress interviews. Some of the questions may be offensive, in which case the job seeker may choose to end the interview. However, this also applies to regular interviews.

Be clear and concise. Let the job seeker speak

Talking too much without letting the candidate say a word will seem odd to say the least. During the interview, stick to the 80:20 rule. In this case, the job seeker should speak 80% of the time, and the recruiter should speak 20%. Use short and simple phrases in your conversation..

Be goodwill

Goodwill disposes the job seeker to a conversation, helps him to get comfortable and to express himself. Also, remember that the recruiter is the face of the company. A benevolent attitude towards candidates in the recruitment process is also a signal for the job seeker to choose in favor of your company.

Be honest

Answer questions honestly. If it turns out that you have deceived the job seeker, he is unlikely to want to work in your company, and this will be a stain on the reputation of both the organization and your reputation.
employment questions for interviews

What mistakes are important to avoid?

All newbies make mistakes. Often – for minor but annoying reasons. So…

  • do not be late without warning. Late is a sign of bad manners and a big minus in the eyes of the job seeker. Even if you are delayed, for example, at a meeting, contact the candidate and let them know that you will be late.
  • do not be distracted. During the interview, there is only you and the candidate. You can’t be distracted by mail, phone, other things, etc. Firstly, it is impolite, and secondly, you may be missing out on valuable information.
  • don’t forget to write it down. It is important to record the necessary information, briefly, thesis. This is necessary for the analysis and comparison of candidates.
  • do not hesitate to clarify. If there is any point that interests you especially, ask the candidate to tell us more about it. Ask clarifying questions, even if they seem overly simple to you.

How to understand that the candidate is “not yours”?

The personal interview has a major advantage over other recruiting methods – here you are with the job seeker face to face, which allows you to evaluate him according to the necessary criteria. There are several ways to understand that a candidate is either unsuitable or ambiguous. Of course, high-quality screening comes with experience from the first minutes. But even a beginner can analyze a “pool” of primary markers such as appearance, communication, body language, etc.
It is also important to assess professional qualities during the interview. They will show whether the job seeker meets the position. It is also important to clarify the information from the resume. A candidate is highly likely to be questionable if:

  • He cannot specify details from the resume, does not give specifics. He is mistaken in the facts he has indicated, telling a lie.
  • He cannot answer questions about motivation or give very abstract answers.
  • He does not cope with the test task or simulated situation.

Over time, these things in personal interviews will be read intuitively. If you are just starting your recruiting journey, develop your checklist and evaluate the candidate against it. And remember – there are no perfect candidates.

Be sure to read this:
Frank Cesno – “How to Know Everything You Need to Know by Asking the Right Questions”
Ilgiz Valinurov – “Recruiting 100%”
Svetlana Ivanova – “Evaluation of competencies using the interview method. Universal guide “
William Poundstone – “HOW WOULD YOU MOVE MOUNT FUJI? Microsoft’s Cult of the Puzzle — How the World’s Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers”
John O’Neill – “The Selection Interview. 58 best questions from the practice of the largest companies in the world “

How will the ATS system help in recruiting?

Interviewing is sufficiently voluminous work that requires a recruiter to complete a large number of tasks. Many of them are routine but time-consuming. It is recommended to use a personnel management system to optimize your work and make it more efficient. Such a service will solve several tasks for you and will increase the productivity of your work. For example, with ATS CleverStaff you can get many benefits, including:

  • Formation of bases of vacancies for different positions;
  • Comparison of CVs of several candidates;
  • Drawing up a plan, receiving alerts;
  • Systematization of information, convenient reporting.

CleverStaff will save you from many routine tasks and help you select the most suitable candidates.
shaking hands with applicant


Interviewing is a task that requires serious preparation. The recruiter should get as much information as possible about the potential candidate. Thanks in part to little things, you can make some decisions. Therefore, it is important to properly prepare for an interview. The more thoroughly you prepare, the more chances you will be able to choose exactly the candidate that is ideal for a particular job.
If you are a beginner recruiter, try to structure the interview, use checklists, make a list of questions and tasks for the job seeker in advance. And regardless of your experience, strive to work – modern ATS will make your work much more efficient.


The specialist seems competent but cannot formulate goals. Should I give him preference?
Give him preference if he is truly a professional and you have no better candidates. However, be prepared that the vacancy may open up again soon. Usually, such people leave quickly.
How many test items should I give at the in-person interview?
As a rule, one is enough. In addition, the test should be small and take no more than 15-20 minutes. If a more voluminous test is expected, it is worth agreeing with the candidate that he will perform it at home and send the result.
The in-person interview left a mixed impression. There is a desire to choose this candidate, but something confuses you. What to do?
Reanalyze your resume and your notes. You will probably find the reason for your doubts. As a last resort, you can invite the candidate for a second interview and clarify all questionable points.