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Queen's University

Planning the Interview and Selection Process

Hiring Tip
Take notes during the interview process.

Participation in the Selection Process

Although ideally at least three people should be involved in selecting a candidate, it is recognized this is not always feasible in the case of research, grant and contract positions. In fact, the number of people involved in a process may range from one person (the Researcher) to a committee of several people.

Appropriate people to invite to participate in a selection process include:

  • colleagues who work on similar projects
  • other members of the research team
  • individuals who are knowledgeable about the position.

When a number of people are involved in the selection process, it is advisable to include men and women and, when possible, members from under-represented groups. At the request of the department, an Employment Coordinator may also sit on the selection team.

Selection Criteria and Process for Evaluating Candidates

Hiring Tip
Be clear about the selection criteria (which are outlined in the Position Summary), as they will be the basis for recruiting and advertising.

Plan to review resumés and select candidates to be interviewed as soon as possible after the competition closing date. This will help to ensure that many of the best qualified candidates have not accepted other positions.

Selection of candidates to be interviewed should be based on a pre-determined list of job-related selection criteria. The previously prepared Position Summary will list the skills and qualifications required to do the job. These criteria will also be the foundation for developing interview questions.

Some examples of criteria which may, when appropriate to the position requirements, be used in the screening and interview process are:

  • Education
  • Relevant or equivalent work experience
  • Knowledge of the job
  • Technical skills and abilities
  • Financial knowledge and abilities
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Communication skills
  • Supervision and delegation experience
  • Management skills

As well, consideration should be given to arranging for candidate testing, when appropriate. Clerical positions, in particular, may benefit from computer software testing. For a nominal fee, Human Resources administers software testing of applicants.

To reiterate, plan to use criteria that are based on the requirements of the job as outlined in the Position Summary. These pre-determined criteria will facilitate the process of assessing and selecting candidates to be interviewed.

Determining Interview Location and Amenities

Hiring Tip
Select an interview location that is accessible to everyone including people who have physical disabilities.

When planning the interview location and amenities, there are a number of important considerations. For instance, plan to conduct the interview in a private location. Eliminate all distractions, such as ringing phones and loose papers. When a number of candidates remain to be seen, try to take a ten-minute break between interviews. In addition, try not to conduct more than four or five interviews over the course of one working day.

When contacting individuals for interviews, it is important to advise the candidate if they require accommodation for the interview to contact a Specialist in Return to Work Services.

The seating arrangements should be comfortable and amenities convenient. For example, make sure that there is a place for the candidate to hang a coat. Supplying the candidate with a glass of water is also conducive to a positive interview climate. In addition, ensure that the location is accessible to people with a physical disability in order to be prepared should a situation arise where a candidate requires this accommodation. Other unanticipated accommodation arrangements may also arise. In this event, Employment Coordinators in Human Resources are available to provide advice regarding accommodation issues and Human Rights requirements. 

Developing Interview Content and Questions

Hiring Tip
Ensure that interview questions relate to the position criteria (as described in the job overview). Prior to interviewing, examine questions disallowed by legislation.

Interview formats may range from a highly structured model to a more flexible arrangement. Typically, interviews for positions graded 1-9 are based on a semi-structured model. That is, they involve development of a list of questions (based on the position criteria) to be asked of each of the candidates and interspersed by probing questions to clarify and explore responses more deeply. See examples of some typical interview questions associated with specific selection criteria.

When developing the list of interview questions, ensure that each of the job criteria is addressed so that the information necessary to determine qualifications for each of the job requirements is produced. As well, plan to ask candidates to elaborate on areas of their resumés and cover letters such as time gaps between jobs, overlaps, frequency of job changes, etc. When developing interview questions, plan to use open-ended questions. This will encourage communication and provide the applicant with the opportunity to present more information.

Once questions have been developed for each of the position criteria, it is a good idea to envision possible answers. If a committee has been struck, discuss the possible answers with the other members. Make a note of various appropriate responses and use these as an aid to evaluate candidate responses to the interview question. For this purpose, you may use the Sample Candidate Assessment Form provided.

Queen's Human Resources
Fleming Hall, Stewart-Pollock Wing
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6.
T: 613.533.2070 | F: 613.533.6196