Interview Scheduling for Efficient Hiring

Interview Scheduling for Efficient Hiring

Manual interview scheduling is a headache. It is also a bottleneck in the hiring process for many companies–because there are so many moving parts. There’s the applicant’s availability and each member of the interviewing team has schedule constraints.

With Poor Interview Scheduling, You Can Lose Your Top Candidates

The best talent is on the market only 10 days! If your process breaks down at this juncture, a competing employer may lure them away.

In addition, efficient scheduling creates a better candidate experience. Remember that evaluation works both ways. Not only are you evaluating the applicant–they are judging your company at the same time. Therefore, a modern scheduling process strengthens your employer brand.

Moreover, a good scheduling process saves the hiring team time and frustration. Successful companies create efficient systems and that includes scheduling.

The Challenges of Interview Scheduling

As mentioned, job interview scheduling by phone can be confusing and time-consuming. Manual emails are error-prone as well. You have probably noticed, for example, that listing the wrong time is easy to do when you’re sending dozens of emails. When an applicant needs to reschedule, the chaos starts all over again.

That leads us to the question: How do you get all of your managers and applicants scheduled without all the back-and-forth of emails and schedule alignment?

How to Schedule an Interview

The best practice for scheduling interviews is to use a shared calendar or scheduling software. Google Calendar, for instance, is free. Plus, there are plenty of low-cost apps designed specifically for interview scheduling.

This is how it works:

  1. All members of the interview team mark their availability on the shared calendar (before sending the link to the candidates)
  2. The hiring manager clears time slots where everyone is available
  3. Email or text the candidate the link to the shared calendar or a list of the available slots
  4. The interviewee chooses one of the pre-cleared slots
  5. Once confirmed, the hiring manager sends a confirmation email or text
    1. If it’s an in-person interview, include the address and any parking or building access instructions
    2. If it’s a video interview, send the link to the meeting and instructions for logging in

ApplicantStack Job Interview Scheduling

ApplicantStack applicant tracking system makes scheduling interviews a breeze, because you let interviewees select a date and time that is mutually available. It eliminates the back-and-forth emails, texts or phone calls.

How ApplicantStack Automates Interview Scheduling

ApplicantStack integrates with Google Calendar and Office 365. You have two ways to schedule: you can choose a time or allow the applicant to select an interview time from pre-cleared calendar slots.

With applicant self-scheduling, the software emails the interviewee a link to your calendar. Then, when they follow the link, they will see your interview calendar. Because you’ve pre-cleared slots, they can only schedule when your team is available.

Let’s review the benefits of automated scheduling in ApplicantStack:

  • Improves the applicant experience by allowing self-scheduling from any mobile device
  • Decreases time-to-hire by eliminating back-and-forth calls and emails
  • Reduces abandoned applications due to schedule confusion
  • Allows your hiring team to focus on top candidates instead of manually scheduling interviews

Automated Interview Scheduling Improves the Applicant Journey

It’s getting tougher to find quality employees in today’s labor market. To be competitive, you need to provide an exceptional applicant journey. Confusing interview scheduling, in contrast, downgrades the applicant journey quickly. Efficient scheduling strengthens your company brand. Indeed, you are less likely to lose an applicant due to a clunky interview scheduling process.

This post is part of our hiring series which includes:

How Behavioral Interviews Improve Candidate Evaluation

How Behavioral Interviews Improve Candidate Evaluation

What is Behavioral Interviewing?

Behavioral interviewing is a style of interviewing developed in the 1970’s by industrial psychologists. The theory is that “the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation.”

Fittingly, behavioral interviewing emphasizes past performance and behaviors. The questions do more than simply determine what a candidate says they will do (i.e. job activities). In contrast, gives the candidate an opportunity to share concrete examples of what they have done in their past work history that helped them to be successful.

Traditional Interview Questions

More traditional interview methods would include hypothetical, cognitive, and personality type questions such as:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. Why are you interested in working for us?
  4. What would you do if you were having difficulties with another employee on your project?
  5. What would you do if someone asked you to overlook a problem with your project?
  6. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
  7. How did you like your last job?

These more traditional interview methods have some shortfalls. Firstly, since they can be very closed-ended, they can limit further information. Secondly, they can elicit a hypothetical answer that may or may not reflect how they really behave. Finally, the interviewer’s personal bias can influence their evaluation.

Of course, hypothetical questions may be valuable in showing how the candidate thinks on his/her feet, but should not be the only basis of evaluation.

What are Cognitive Questions?

  • Cognitive questions are based on the theory that a candidate’s thinking, learning and memory functions are critical success factors.
  • This line of questioning often involves a series of scenarios where the interviewer describes practical problems
  • The interviewer evaluates the candidate’s methods used to solve these problems. These include evaluating how the candidate gathers and applies information, how they process data, and how they think through alternatives.
  • This type of interview question is best used for jobs with a high degree of intellectual content.

What are Personality Questions?

  • This type of question reveals more about who the person is rather than what they can deliver.
  • The answers are often characterized by trait words like reliable, hard working, quick learner, assertive, etc.
  • These questions save time in an interview but are not effective as an interview technique unless you ask for a real example of how the candidate used this trait.

In contrast, the sample behavioral questions below may result in more reliable answers.

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to keep from speaking or making a decision because you did not have enough information.
  • Describe a time when you had to make a quick decision.
  • What is the toughest group that you have had to get cooperation from? How did you win them over?
  • Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your approach? Did it work?
  • Give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Describe a situation when you were able to have a positive influence on the action of others.
  • Tell me about a situation when you had to speak up (be assertive) in order to get a point across that was important to you.
  • Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers or group? How did you do it? Did they “buy” it?
  • What have you done in the past to contribute toward a teamwork environment?
  • How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?
  • What do you do when your schedule is suddenly interrupted? Give an example.
  • Give me an example of an important goal which you had set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it.

behavioral interview

How to Prepare Questions for a Behavioral Interview

Companies that employ behavioral interviewing techniques can use the same analysis they use to develop the job description. This helps determine the skill sets required to be successful in the job. The hiring manager should consider the following questions:

  • What are the necessary skills to do this job?
  • And what makes a successful candidate?
  • Identify the deliverables we are expecting.
  • What would make an unsuccessful candidate?
  • Why have people left this position?
  • What is the most difficult part of this job?

A sample list of skills resulting from the job analysis may include the following:

  • Decision making and problem solving
  • Leadership, motivation
  • Ability to work independently with little supervision
  • Communication, interpersonal skills
  • Planning and organization, critical thinking skills
  • Team building and the ability to influence others

When asking a behavioral question, try using the “STAR” approach. Be sure the candidate’s answer includes:

  • Situation or Task
  • Actions
  • Result

Using the “STAR” approach, the interviewer might expect the sample answer below to the question; “What have you done in the past to contribute toward a teamwork environment?”

The candidate might recount a time when communication within their work group had broken down (situation). To resolve the problem, the candidate organized informal lunch meetings for people to discuss relevant issues (action). Morale then improved, as did the lines of communication (result).

Benefits of Behavioral Interviewing

To recap, let’s list the benefits of behavioral interviewing:

  • Helps determine if the candidate can prove that they’ve taken actions that have delivered results.
  • Makes the candidate recall real actions and results they have experienced and describe them in detail.
  • Can establish a pattern of behavior.
  • The safest for inexperienced interviewers because they don’t require the evaluation of a psychological or organizational professional.
  • Behavioral interviews make it difficult for the candidate to make up stories that are not based on real situations.
  • Companies that invest the time and energy in developing behavioral interviews often attract top candidates and top candidates make the company a more desirable place to work.

Work to Reduce Hiring Bias

As you work to create an equitable evaluation process, keep the following in mind:

  • Evaluate the candidate only on his/her ability to deliver.
  • Base your evaluation on specific facts, not a gut feeling or general impression.
  • Openly share your impressions and evaluations even if they are different than the rest of the team.
  • Feel comfortable with raising red flags.
  • Don’t rush to make a decision if you don’t have enough facts.
  • Avoid allowing the impressions of others to pressure you to change your evaluation.

Hiring Software Helps You Create and Manage Interview Scripts

Hiring software like ApplicantStack from Swipeclock allows you to create and manage interview scripts. Write scripts based on the job description and STAR method. In addition, manage your job descriptions and postings.

To learn more about candidate evaluation, get our free eBook The Interview: A Step-by-Step Guide to Exemplary Hiring Practices.

How to Conduct an Interview with a Job Candidate

How to Conduct an Interview with a Job Candidate

Every hiring manager needs to know how to conduct an interview with a job candidate. Elevating your interviewing skills will help you:

  1. Make faster and better hiring decisions
  2. Differentiate candidates with similar qualifications
  3. Highlight your culture
  4. Reduce unconscious bias
  5. Avoid costly hiring mistakes

Let’s discuss how to conduct an interview the right way. Like anything, good interviewing requires preparation. How should the interviewer prepare for an interview? Notice that many steps take place before the candidate arrives. If you follow the steps and prepare well, the actual interview will go smoothly.

The Benefits of a Good Interview

The job interview sets the tone for everything that comes after. It is also a compliance minefield. Let’s review the benefits of a good interview:

  • Allows the hiring manager to thoroughly vet the interviewee
  • Helps verify qualifications and skills on the applicant’s resume
  • Reveals the candidate’s expectations and understanding of the role and allows you to validate or clarify
  • Allows you to answer any of the candidate’s questions

Bottom line? Good interviews improve hiring outcomes.

The Challenges of Interviewing

Interviewing is an important skill for recruiters, in-house hiring teams and hiring managers to master. Without proper training, there are many pitfalls. Let’s discuss the most common:

  • Allowing bias to influence your decision
  • Ineffective questions
  • Asking illegal questions which increases the risk of a discrimination case
  • Inconsistencies that affect the process
  • Failure to put the candidate at ease

How to Prepare for an Interview

By all means, the things you do to prepare are just as important as what you do when you are conducting the interview.

Understand the Job Description

If you wrote the job description, you have a good idea what the position entails. But take it a step further by talking to managers. Ask them about soft skills. Also, talk to employees in the same (or similar) job role. When you have a deeper understanding, update the job description.

Write an Interview Script

Don’t ever go into an interview without a script–always prepare your questions ahead of time. Fortunately, it’s not hard to write structured interview scripts. We cover this in detail in: Why Structured Interviews Are Critical. Follow the steps to create structured interviews and questions to ask during an interview.

Questions to Ask During an Interview

It’s helpful to organize good interview questions into three categories: questions about job specifics (hard skills), soft skills (behavioral) and situational. Hard skills are also called technical skills and are job-specific capabilities or knowledge necessary for the job role. They are acquired through on-the-job training, experience or formal education. Therefore, hard skills can be quantified. For example, an ability to write code in JavaScript, measure blood pressure or speak Spanish.

Conversely, soft skills are behavioral attributes that help an employee succeed in their work. Working well with team members, problem-solving and effective time management are examples of soft skills that would help with any job. Soft skills are also called interpersonal skills, non-technical skills and essential skills. Situational questions relate to soft skills as well.

  • Job role-specific:  What experience and certifications do you have in the [INDUSTRY] field?
  • Soft skills or behavioral: What if you had to solve a difficult problem and your manager was away?
  • Situational questions: How would you respond to an angry customer?

Questions You Can’t Ask in an Interview

The Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEOA) is designed to prevent employment discrimination. An interviewer can unwittingly increase the potential for bias with illegal interview question. The EEOA prohibits interview questions on the following topics:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Country of birth
  • Birthplace
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Marital or family status
  • Pregnancy
  • Salary history (in some states)

How do you avoid illegal interview questions? Create a script with legal questions and don’t deviate!

Business owners, recruiting and hiring managers make mistakes all the time. Therefore, protect your company by learning the do’s and don’ts of legal hiring. Additionally, if you have legal counsel, have them sign off on your interview questions.

The Importance of Standardized Scoring

It’s key to understand that to improve interviewing, you need to improve evaluation. To do this, standardize candidate scoring. An interview scorecard is the easiest way to do this. Use the job qualifications to create the scorecard. It doesn’t need to be complex, but each person on the interview team must use it. When everyone is working from the same playbook, it’s easier to compare candidates. It also helps to remove “gut feelings” from the process.

Share Your Mission and Values

The job seeker has the power in today’s employment dynamic. Moreover,  it’s clear that job seekers care about what your company stands for. Certainly, the applicant is scrutinizing you as carefully as you are scrutinizing them. For this reason, write an Employment Value Proposition and practice sharing it. One of the best interview tips is to showcase your culture and values.

Interview Formats

Let’s discuss the most common types of interview formats.

  • Phone screen
    • Short, preliminary screening
  • Individual interview
    • One interviewer and one candidate
  • Group interview
    • One or more interviewers and two or more applicants
  • Panel interview
    • One applicant and two or more interviewers
  • Technical interview
    • Designed for technical positions including IT, data science, engineering
    • May include requiring the applicant to answer technical questions or demonstrate skills
  • Multiple-Round
    • A process of several interviews, often in a mix of formats
    • Used for extensive evaluation of higher level roles


The interview format will depend on the type of position and your hiring needs. If you’re doing high volume hiring, it may work to do a group interview. For example, if you need to quickly hire multiple candidates for the same job position, a group interview (in person or a virtual interview) may work for your company.

What is a group interview and when should you use them? SHRM gives these interviewing tips:

Group interviews are most effective when hiring for positions that require excellent people skills, especially when the job regularly deals with consumers or the public. Group interviews are also effective when teamwork is an integral part of the job. The group interview allows an employer to observe behaviors that are reflective of success on the job before the employer actually invests time and money into hiring a candidate. The Society for Human Resource Management

Review the Candidate’s Application

The more familiar you are with the candidate’s resume, the better. Firstly, it gives you important context. Secondly, it will help you maintain eye contact and put the candidate at ease.

Schedule the Interview Location in Advance

You don’t want to wander around looking for a conference room with the applicant in tow. If possible, use a private room with comfy chairs. A glass-windowed room can make an introverted candidate uncomfortable.

In the past two years, video interviews have become commonplace. If you conduct virtual interviews, ensure the tech is ready to go. Indeed, nothing lowers your confidence (and company image) like tech glitches.

Don’t Crowd Your Interview Calendar

Schedule enough time for the interviewee to elaborate where necessary. Add a 15-minute buffer between interviews so you never have to rush a candidate-or make the next one wait.

Managing the Interview

How to Start an Interview

Now that you’ve prepared well, it’s time for the actual interview. Here are some interviewing tips for recruiters, hiring managers and small business owners:

  1. Turn off your phone or have your assistant hold your calls
  2. Offer the applicant a beverage
  3. Speak slowly
  4. Listen intently
  5. Ask the candidate if they have any questions and answer them (if you don’t know the answers immediately, write down the questions so you get the information and call or email the candidate promptly with the answers)
  6. Before ending the interview, explain the timeline and next steps
  7. Thank the candidate for their time

What to Watch For

Be prepared for common issues so you can get prevent them:

  • Don’t overpromise–if the candidate asks for something you can’t guarantee, be honest and straightforward
  • Make sure you let the candidate do most of the talking
  • Resist the temptation to stray from the script

Post-Interview Steps

Create a post-interview process for documentation and follow-up. If you want to advance the candidate to the next stage, send an email right away. If you decide to eliminate the applicant from consideration, politely notify them as well. We mentioned candidate scorecards previously. Make sure you collect the scorecards from all interviewers. Encourage your team to fill them out during the interview or soon after while it is still fresh on their mind. Move the candidate to the next stage in your hiring workflow.

Recruiting Software Helps You Conduct Better Interviews

When considering how to conduct an interview, don’t forget the role of hiring software. ApplicantStack recruiting software helps you improve your interviews–and all of your hiring processes. Manage job descriptions, post to job boards, create structured interviews, and track applicants. The result? You will attract and hire quality employees faster.

You can try ApplicantStack for free. Visit ApplicantStack free trial.

This post is part of our hiring series which includes: