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How to Conduct a Face-to-Face Interview Best Practices

How to Conduct a Face-to-Face Interview Best Practices

One of the final stages of the recruitment process is a face-to-face interview between a candidate and the hiring manager for a given role. While this step is almost always a given, many organizations fail to properly prepare interviewers, leading to subpar discussions that make hiring decisions more difficult than necessary. Yet by implementing a standardized process, HR professionals can ensure this doesn’t happen.

By using the following tips and best practices, human resources teammates can implement standards that ensure hiring managers in their organizations conduct a great face-to-face job interview.


What is a Face-to-Face Interview?

For most organizations, the face-to-face interview is the final stage of the hiring process. Unlike the phone screener, these meetings typically take place either in person or via video call depending on the location of the two parties.


How to Prepare for Face-to-Face Interviews

In many cases, human resources personnel won’t actually be conducting these meetings with job applicants. With that said, HR can and should help set up interviewers for success. To begin, hiring managers should bring four different resources into every job interview. These include: 

  1. Applicant Resume: During the job interview, it’s considered best practice for interviewers to bring the candidate’s resume into the meeting room. This gives you an opportunity to reference their experience and even ask questions about skills and past performance. 
  2. Personality Evaluation: Plenty of employers request employees to complete personality evaluations like the DiSC assessment. These profiles are designed to indicate how candidates may work with others on the team and how they may approach their work and role in general.  
  3. Written Responses: Depending on the role, hiring managers may request candidates to respond to work- or role-related prompts. The face-to-face interview presents an excellent opportunity to discuss these responses with the applicant.
  4. Skillset-Related Testing Resources: Some roles may require additional skillset testing. For example, organizations that hire developers may want to evaluate applicants’ abilities based on coding language, clarity, and accuracy.


How to Invite a Candidate to a Face-to-Face Interview

Once managers have prepared the necessary resources, their next step is to actually invite candidates to participate in the face-to-face interview. HR should standardize this process using an applicant tracking system (ATS) to ensure that all interviewers follow the same steps, from start to finish. 

Not only does an ATS help the hiring team stay organized and on track, but HR can prepare and upload prewritten communications that streamline recruitment. For example, use the following template to invite an applicant to a face-to-face meeting:


Hi [Candidate Name],

I enjoyed speaking with you over the phone, and I’d like to invite you to come to the office for an in-person interview. I’m also attaching your DiSC profile, as well as mine. Please review both of them before the interview.  

The conversation typically lasts one full hour. After a five-minute break, you will also be asked to work on two small tasks that are very similar to the tasks you will be expected to do on a daily basis. This skill-specific part of the interview should take another hour. You don’t need to prepare anything for this part. In total, please plan for 2.5 hours for the interview.    

Does Tuesday, March 1, at 2 p.m. CST work for you?

We are located at [XXX], and you can park [XXX]. 

Thanks and I look forward to meeting you in person!

[Hiring Manager]


How to Conduct Great Face-to-Face Interviews

The best face-to-face interviews follow an eight-step process. By sticking to these stages, hiring managers can fill open positions with top talent no matter the role. 

1. Break the Ice

The best candidates are likely interviewing with several different employers, which means that the selection process goes both ways. Ask if they want coffee or water, clean up the interview space, etc. Also, be aware of your body language. You want to appear approachable. By breaking the ice with applicants, you can make a great first impression and ease naturally into the interview.

2. Transition to the First Question

Hiring managers should ask candidates about their understanding of the role for which they’re interviewing. This is an excellent way to transition into the discussion and demonstrates the degree to which the applicant did their research.

3. Ask About the Resume

It’s also important to ask the interviewee to walk through their resume, either beginning with their most recent role or working from the past to present. Regardless, during this portion of the interview, interviewers should ask questions that identify if candidates get things done, if they have passion, and how they make decisions.

  • To find out whether applicants get things done, ask questions like, “What were some of your achievements at each job?” and “What are some mistakes you’ve made in past roles and how would you do things differently now?”
  • To find out whether applicants have passion, ask questions like, “What were some of your favorite parts of each position you held?” and “What motivates you to do your job day in and day out?”
  • To find out how applicants make decisions, ask questions like, “Tell me about a situation where you faced an unexpected challenge. How did you take that on?”

4. Review Written Responses

Hiring managers should spend time reviewing any written responses the candidate may have prepared before the meeting.

5. Review Personality Evaluation

Next, interviewers should review the personality profile with the candidate. During this step, it’s important for the hiring manager to bring their own profile results to compare and contrast the two, which can help identify how the candidate might work with the interviewer.

6. Questions and Answers

Managers should give candidates time to ask any questions about the role, organization, company culture, and more.

7. Skills Test

Organizations that choose to conduct a skills-based test should break for five or ten minutes to allow the candidate to proceed with the tasks.

8. Reference Request

If a hiring manager decides they want to move forward with an applicant, the final step in the face-to-face interview process is to ask the candidate for permission to check their references.


Additional Resources

You can stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with important HR topics using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news
  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance
  • HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics
  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit
  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics

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