Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a structured interviewing plan when it comes to finding the most qualified candidates for your open positions,” says Ann E. Zaslow-Rethaber of International Search Consultants (ISC), a leading executive search firm that specializes in recruiting for sales, sales management and marketing professionals on a nationwide as well as international basis. ISC helps companies fill key roles within a variety of specialty industries including health care, telecommunications and fuel and energy.

Zaslow-Rethaber states, “By taking a more systematic approach to the questions you ask and how the interview is conducted, you will help ensure that your interview time will net the best results.” She gives the following guidelines:

• Define objectives – Have a structured plan before you start the interviewing process. Review the job description and list the specific duties and technical knowledge and skills needed to fulfill the job requirements. List success factors of those who performed well in previous or similar positions as well as outline your expectations of what you wish the candidate to achieve in the position.

• Prepare questions in advance—instead of depending on the candidate’s resume to structure the interview, pre-select questions that provide you the relevant information you need to determine if the person has the skill level and behaviors necessary to do the job well. Try to include questions that only a candidate who is familiar with your specific industry would know and those that can help you determine the level of competency a candidate has in a specific skill area. Prepare yourself with follow up questions to a candidate’s responses.

• Assemble an interview team – whenever possible, include others to participate in the interview process such as a HR representative, the reporting manager and a potential co-worker or internal client. This provides a more balanced view point and contributes to a fair interview process.

• Be aware of non-verbal cues too – experts agree that every candidate should wear a business suit to their first interview regardless of the casual nature of the business environment. A professional appearance demonstrates that the person cares to make a good first impression, which will matter to customers and clients. Appearance as well as handshake, posture and eye contact are all strong forms of non-verbal communication so pay attention.

• Find out what motivates your candidate –asking the right targeted questions can often give you a solid glimpse into the motivations of the person you are interviewing. A sample motivation question is imagine you won a coveted award 5 years from today – what is the award and why did you win over your competitors? Other examples are what overall goals, including career, have you set for yourself or how would you define success in your life?

• Ask many types of questions –once you ask initial icebreaker and traditional questions that the candidate is usually prepared for, it’s best to ask other questions that can reveal how a candidate would handle a situation in their new position, how they handled a challenge in a former position and if they would fit into your organization’s culture. A sample situational question would be what is the first thing you would do in your new position or a sample behavior-based question would be how did you a handle a crisis working for your former employer. An example of a culture-fit question would be what motivates you to work hard in your job?

Author's Bio: 

A recruiter since 1996, Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is the president of International Search Consultants, a global recruiting firm launched in 1999. Headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, ISC has become one of the country’s most reputable search firms, working with companies both in the US and on an international basis. With a team of 15 talented recruiters and utilizing the very best high tech tools available, ISC can easily handle multiple searches that can produce highly qualified candidates in a short amount of time for companies with high volume recruiting needs. For more information, check out ISC’s website at or call 888/866-7276.