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Division of Human Resources

Interview Tips

Ensuring interview techniques are free of unconscious bias is critical in attracting and selecting a diverse workforce. Interviews should be conducted in a manner that is equitable to all candidates.

Ask for work samples or portfolios to further assess a candidate's skill set and competency level.

  • Pro tip:  If work samples are utilized, be sure to use a standardized rubric to evaluate the samples presented and require work samples from all candidates being interviewed.

Avoid asking questions that require only a "yes" or "no" answer. Instead, ask questions that encourage the applicant to express ideas and information and allow more freedom in the response.

  • For example, if you ask, "Did you like your former job?" you might receive a "yes" or "no" answer. However, if you ask, "What things did you like most about the job?" you should receive responses that will contribute to your understanding of the applicant's motivation and ability to perform the job. 

Require the same standards for all applicants.

  • For example, if heavy lifting is part of the essential functions of the job, apply the same standard to each applicant whether they are male or female, young or old, etc.

Always check references by contacting the past or current supervisor(s).

  • Pro tip: If you are talking to a past supervisor, the most important question to ask is "Would you rehire this person?"

If the applicant is one of the final candidates, explain that you will not make an offer without contacting the present supervisor.

Disclaimer: Hiring officials are required to conduct a professional reference check for the applicant they wish to employ prior to making an offer of employment. If an applicant asks that their current employer not be contacted during the selection process, a conditional offer of employment may be made pending receipt of a reference from the current employer. However, if the hiring official determines that information from the current employer is not critical to a sound hiring decision, this requirement may be waived.

Don't ask any questions that may be interpreted as bias against any protected group. Protected groups can be defined by sexual orientation, age, gender, race, color, national origin, religion, veteran status and disability.

Do not ask questions about date of birth, graduation date, gender, race, marital status, children, child-care arrangements, transportation, financial commitments, religion, disabilities or arrest records. You may ask about ability to work the specified work schedule and career objectives if stated on the application and if related to the functions and responsibilities of the job.

  • Pro tip: If you wonder if it is OK to ask a question and you can't get an answer before the interview, don't ask it.

Not sure what unconscious bias is? Review this section of our website to learn what it is and how to overcome it. 

Ask the same general questions of all applicants, and ask only for information that you intend to use to make a hiring decision. Know how you will use the information to make that decision.

  • Pro tip: Include at least one interview question related to diversity, equity and inclusion to further show the importance of reaching our diversity and equity goals at all levels of the organization.

Questions you might ask include: 

  • Describe a typical day on your most recent job. What were (or are) your primary responsibilities?
  • What would you say is your most significant achievement in your current (or previous) job?
  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you handle stressful situations?
  • How do you like to be managed? 
  • What is your work style?
  • Describe the last time you took the initiative to solve a problem in the workplace.

Use these diversity focused sample interview questions [pdf] and rating guides [pdf] to get started. 

The Talent Acquisition Office has no requirements on the number of people a department should interview for a job opening. However, we do monitor applicants who are interviewed for a position in order to encourage a diverse applicant pool.

Behavioral questions can elicit information about what a candidate has done, or will do.

  • For example you could say "Describe the most difficult decision you ever had to make in your past employment. Reflecting back, was your decision the best possible choice you could have made? Why or why not?"
  • "Describe a time when you received a complaint from a customer about the service given in your office, and how you handled it?" 

Allow the applicant to do most of the talking.

  • Your objective is to encourage the applicant to talk so that you can find out about the applicant's qualifications, abilities, experience, motivation, etc.

Make sure interview locations are accessible for all candidates.

  • When scheduling interviews, allow candidates to request accommodations if needed for the interviewing process by directing them to contact the Office of Talent Acquisition.
 Make sure you make the applicant feel comfortable. Put yourself in the applicant's place so you can understand how they may be feeling. 

Prepare for the interview by reviewing the job description. Consider what questions will help you identify the best person to accomplish the work described.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.