Table of Contents

What is an interview?

It is a spoken exchange of information. This involves both speaking and listening. They usually have two forms:

One to one

It is vital that you control a one to one interview and also do not let prejudices get in the way of judgement


Panel has the advantage of each member having a specific role, less likelihood of bias and equal responsibility. It has the disadvantage of making the interviewee nervous, reaching a group decision, and friction between panel members.


No matter what type of interview, preparation is essential. E.g. CV, company policies, warnings, notes from other people, job specifications, personnel details etc. You owe it to yourself and the interviewee not to waste time.

Location is also important. Choose this carefully. Also think about room layout. Face to face for dismissal or disciplinary, side by side for coaching, at angle or comfy chairs for interview.

Notify the interviewee in plenty of time where possible and also communicate any preparation that needs to be done by them.

The interview should also have structure.

The beginning

Welcome, make feel at ease, explain the structure, clarify the purpose, and establish any ground rules


Have a list of questions or items you intend to cover. Keep eye on the time. Observe. Record what is said. Check understanding regularly.


Summarise, summarise. Also make clear what is going to happen next and set any follow up dates. Finally say goodbyes.


Listening and speaking

Have a balance of open and closed questions. Make a list before hand. If the answer does not satisfy you ask another question. For open questions;

I keep six honest and serving men (they taught me all I knew), Their names are What and Why and When, and How and Where and Who.

Remember communications is about:

Active listening

A few don’t

Constructive feed back

1.When you….. Describe the behaviour (objective facts), but leave out your judgements and interpretations. Give example and frequency. Avoid generalisations (E.g. Always)

2.I feel…. Share you feelings. EG I am irritated. Own you feelings. Do not say ‘You make me feel..’ Others are not responsible for creating your feelings.

3.Because… Describe effect of behaviour on you and others. Do not exaggerate.

4.I would prefer….. Say what you want different. Say what you want rather than what you do not want.

Job selection interviews


Need job description (what defines the job) and Job specification (qualities and qualifications required).

Job description

Title: Receptionist Place of work: Chiswick Salary Scale: £xxxx Hours of work: 9 to 5 Holidays: 25 days Duties and responsibilities: Speaking to members of the public

Job specification

Title: Receptionist

Responsible to: Manager

Age range: 24-35

Education required: Degree

Skill and personal qualities required: Smart, ability to mix

Previous experience: At least 2 years

Often these are combined.

Check list




Appraisal interviews

Objectives should be:

1.To let employee know the are valued and cared about

2.To help employee overcome failings or problems

3.To praise good work

4.To plan employees future

5.To generate feeling of team


Look at personnel files, job specifications, and previous appraisals. Get feed back from peers and other managers. Let employee know of any preparation he must do. Do you want it to read before the interview?

Appraisal forms are useful but beware, as they can limit to points on form, can produce more negative comments than positive, and have tendency to focus on past rather than future.

Five steps to solve problems

1.Identify the problem and get it clear

2.Look at possible solutions

3.Decide between yourselves on the action to be taken

4.Take the action

5.Access if problem is solved or to try another solution

Check list




Counselling interviews

The aim here is to help an employee over come a problem that is worrying them. Serious counselling is usually carried out professionally. Always remember you are not there to offer advice or find solutions. You are there to listen and to try to help the person help themselves.


Advance plan if possible. The place is very important. It must be private. You may need to find out some background but be very, very discreet.


Actively listen. Be very, very careful about offering any advice. It can backfire. E.g. If you suggest X takes Y for a drink and they end up having a fight! Develop the knack of putting all advice into the third person. E.g. I knew someone who….





Grievance interviews

These happen when someone makes a complaint. It is vital that you must get at the truth.


Establish the circumstances. Speak to any other staff to get other sides and observations. Build an overall picture. Read relevant personnel files to see if there have been related problems (E.g. sexual harassment). Confidentially is also extremely important.


You should have a good idea before you start. Coax employee to tell everything and listen very carefully to what is actually said. You must find if allegations are true. Indicate that you intend to help (even if you feel complaint is exaggerated). Do not take sides. Restate everything to ensure you and the employee has clear picture. Some of these pointers may be relevant:

It is often better to think about it and have second meeting to deliver you actions.





Disciplinary and dismissal interviews

These are one of the least pleasant. But always remember that someone has to do them and not shirk away from the problem. It is important to try and show yourself as fair and just. It is very important to ensure you have all your facts right.


What are the company procedures? Have these been adequately explained to the employee. Check any legal requirements. Collect all the evidence and speak to all managers involved. Arrange the interview either at the end of a day or at the end of a working week, so employee can go home immediately to think about it.

Check against the employment law. Where necessary involve unions.


Outline the subjects for discussion. This is usually already known. Do not let personalities, personal bias or hearsay get in the way. It must be facts, facts! Never say anything that could be misinterpreted or used against you.

Reiterate any previous warnings. Show employee all documentary evidence, statements etc. Allow time for explanations. Give clear timescale for improvements (these must be realistic). Summarise the discussion carefully. Make absolutely sure:

Finally arrange time for follow up interviews.

Where dismissal you must spell out the reason for dismissal very clearly.

“You are being dismissed because you have on 15 occasions over the last two months failed to turn up for work with no reason being offered in your defence. This has been discussed with you at two disciplinary interviews and you have also had two written warnings. Despite these warnings your conduct has continued and therefore dismissal is our only course of action”

Remember to state exact date you expect employee to leave. You must provide employee by law with written statement of the reasons for dismissal.  It is also important to let other employees know exactly why someone has been dismissed and the actions you took to try and prevent it. Also make it clear that this decision was not taken lightly.





Redundancy interviews

These are also not very nice but must be done. It may be a shock to the people concerned. There are two main differences between dismissal and redundancy:

1.When dismissed a person generally deserves it, whereas a redundant person may have done nothing wrong

2.Redundancy relates to job whereas dismissal relates to an  individual


Ensure redundancy is necessary:

1.Job no longer exists due to re-organisation etc.

2.Decline in business volume

3.Company closure

Look at overtime restriction, laying off temps or contract workers, or short time working.

Agree policy with unions before publishing but publish quickly to stop rumours. Should include:

Who to choose

Never let emotions cloud business judgement. If person identified is single mother then do not be tempted to move axe to someone else for moral or emotional reasons. Reasoning must lie foremost for the good of the company. Where choice is difficult, last in first out though harsh is as good as anything.


Show your regret. The way you handle the interview is very important. Make it clear it is not your fault but prevailing circumstances. Outline exactly why. That is not their fault.

Clearly explain all financial matters. Notice period, redundancy pay, holiday’s etc.

Be prepared for angry reaction. If they say why me? Have an answer ready before hand. Impress that it is not their failure and does not reflect their ability.





25 January 2009 (2)