Interview Tips

Interview Tips

We at GuruLink know just how critical it is to develop effective interviews that allow you to accurately assess talent, and bring on the right type of candidates for your teams. It is for this reason that we pride ourselves on providing our clients with Candidates that have been thoroughly screened.

Please review our various articles before your next interview:

Our screening methods are designed to be exceptional in measuring the degree of breadth and depth of knowledge a candidate has. We have long understood that each organization, candidate, and role being interviewed for is unique.

The interview we decide to use is determined with you after having met to discuss the exact details of the role(s) in question and to get to know you and your organization more intimately. Tailoring the interview is only done after we have confidentially identified together exactly what your needs, objectives, goals, hiring budgets, hiring metrics, existing hiring procedures, and office dynamics are.

As mentioned in the Services section, our goal is to eliminate as much effort as possible from your existing recruiting process. To do so we must be on the same page. Being on the same page requires understanding specifically what your goals are and what the prospective candidate will need to offer professionally and personally in order to contribute effectively to those goals. It should be clear by now that our assessment procedure is quite thorough.  We go beyond simply asking you what position you are looking to fill.

Our experience, combined with specific assessments, allows us to compile the most effective screening interview to be implemented on your behalf with applicants that have been identified by the consultants of GuruLink as strong candidates. At the end of the day, we realize that it may not be entirely realistic to assume we can completely remove your recruiting process. The final say regarding the hiring of a candidate will, in all likelihood, come from the hiring manager or project manager.   For this reason, we have compiled valuable interview tips to guide you thorough the hiring process.

Interviews can be a daunting experience, not only for the candidate but also for the people doing the hiring. We appreciate this, and want to help make the process as effortless as possible for you. As your relationship grows with GuruLink you will find that this section will come in very handy for the rare occasions where you feel you need to perform a final interview.

Hire The Right Candidate

Here are some tips to help you make better hiring decisions and improve your recruitment process:

  • Make sure you have a written job profile and make sure the qualifications and requirements accurately predict future job performance. It is much better to describe how skills will be applied in the job than just listing skills. Top performers are interested in the challenges of a job and the opportunity for growth.
  • Don’t rely too heavily on automatic resume filtering based on skills or years experience, at the very least do not present these too early in the application process. It can leave out the best candidates.
  • Make sure to sell the job, your company, and the opportunity for growth throughout the interview process.  The candidate will walk away with a positive image of your company and make it that much easier to close them at the end of the process.  Even if you don’t want to hire them you want them to walk away wanting to work for you.
  • Make sure that job profiles are not just a list of skills.  Be sure to describe day-to-day duties, performance objectives, deliverables, challenges, responsibilities, and accomplishments that are expected of someone in this position.
  • Develop interview guides, standard interview questions, and procedures for each position so candidates are all evaluated objectively and on the same criteria.
  • Make use of panel interviews – this ensures you don’t ask the same questions over and over, saves time and makes sure all people are evaluating the same responses to the same questions.
  • Make sure during the interview you do not focus too heavily on skills but rather the practical application of those skills.  Focus on the candidates major career/job accomplishments.
  • There are 4 major things you should try to draw out of a candidate in an interview. First, you want to find out about their past individual accomplishments.  Second, you want to find out about past team accomplishments. You may want to look for any relations between the two. Thirdly, you want to get examples of prior accomplishments that are similar to the performance objectives set out for the position the candidate is being interviewed for.  The fourth and final thing, is how the candidate would go about accomplishing the major performance objectives of that job.  This will assist you in weeding out candidates who may interview well but are not, in reality, top performers.
  • Have candidates describe a few major accomplishments throughout their career. Make sure to find out the “who, what, where, when, why and how’s”.  (i.e. describe accomplishments, company they worked for, results achieved including numbers and facts, how long the project was and when it took place, the importance of this accomplishment to the corporation, their title and role, team size, major challenges, examples of leadership, initiative and decision making, working under pressure, technical skills required, actual role played, mistakes made, was project on budget and on time, dealing with conflicts, etc.)
  • Another great question to ask is, “If you were hired to do this job, what steps would you take to solve [state major/common problem]?”
  • Use a variety of different types of questions including behavioural, situational, and technical questions.  Make sure to ask how the candidate may react to certain situations that may arise if they are hired for this position.
  • Train hiring managers and other people who will be conducting interviews on effective interviewing techniques.
  • Don’t limit your sources for good employees.
  • Review your best employees in each position to see if their qualifications match that current job description. If not, then make the necessary revisions.
  • Analyze current employees and create job profiles and benchmarks to indicate future job performance requirements.
  • Leverage your employee referrals by developing an effective and rewarding Employee Referral Program.
  • Avoid hiring someone who averages more than one employer every two years.
  • Always promote from within to maintain employee morale before going externally.
  • A person with an extensive contracting background is very likely to go back to self-employment when the economy permits. Hire this person as a consultant.
  • Use a temporary employment agency instead of hiring an employee to assure that you do need this person on a permanent basis.
  • “Over qualified” people are always better than “under qualified” people.
  • If possible, have the person exiting the position meet with their potential replacement.
  • Assess a potential employee’s energy levels.  If you engage in more than one interview, try to do it at different times of the day.
  • Look into any significant gaps in applicant’s employment history.
  • Consider using outside recruitment agencies if you do not have the resources to follow a thorough hiring process.
  • Use pre-employment surveys.
  • Verify an applicant’s background and all references thoroughly.
  • Know the terms of employment.
  • Test the skills and industry knowledge of a prospective employee. Get specific.

Traditional Interview Questions 

Interviewing can be as stressful an experience for employers as it is for applicants, especially if you do not hire on a regular basis.  For this reason, we have compiled a list of traditional generic questions that may have slipped your mind.

  • Could you please tell me about yourself?
  • How can you help us to grow? Why should I hire you?
  • What are your expectations from us?
  • What are your goals, both short-term and long-term? How will you establish them?
  • How did you learn about our organization? What made you apply for this position?
  • What would you consider are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What qualities would look for if you were in charge of hiring new employees?
  • Are you willing to take courses?
  • How do you work under pressure? Give examples from your previous jobs?
  • Where do you see yourself in 2 years? What about 5-10 years from now?
  • In what ways do you think you could make a valuable contribution to our company?
  • What things about a job give you the most satisfaction?
  • Tell me about an accomplishment that you are proud of.
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • What have you learned from your mistakes?
  • What is your biggest frustration with your current or most recent position?
  • Why did you leave your last position or why are you looking to leave?
  • How would you like your next position to be different?
  • How do you get along with your current supervisor?
  • Tell me about a conflict you had with someone in your work environment and how you dealt with it.
  • How do you spend your time at work?
  • How has your college experience prepared you for your career? (If applicable)
  • What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  • Why did you choose the career you are preparing for?
  • What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful?
  • What do you REALLY want to do in life?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in an organization like ours?
  • How would you define the word “success”?
  • Do you have a geographical preference? Are you willing to relocate? Travel?
  • What criteria are you using to evaluate the company you hope to work for?
  • Why have you been out of work for so long?
  • Who do you admire?

Performance Management

Do you have a performance improvement department or training department?

Just a few years ago, an organization’s competitive advantage was measured in terms of physical capital. Today, organizations with the best talent, ability to access information, and ongoing performance improvement programs have the best opportunity for success.

This has shifted interest toward measuring performance improvement instead of just training.  For example, when British Petroleum, a major international oil company, used performance improvement methods they increased their profits by $30 million per oil well.  In the past, when drilling workers would discover new process that improved efficiency that information was never shared beyond the single drilling team.   British Petroleum took all the tacit knowledge found amongst the different drilling teams and created a culture of shared knowledge and performance improvement measurements.

Demand for performance improvement is increasing exponentially and many organizations are now renaming their training departments and holding trainers responsible for performance improvement results. Below are best practices in getting higher productivity for the training dollars.

Performance Improvement Strategies Used by Top Organizations are to:


  • Align skill development with organizational objectives.
  • Beware of the “Can’t see the trees for the forest” training syndrome.
  • Extend accessibility and training reach with e-Learning.
  • Make recruiters and trainers business partners in employee selection, training, and outplacement.
  • Use mentoring and coaching is a catalyst to performance improvement.



Behavioural Interview Questions

Many of you are moving away from a resume-driven style of interviewing to a behavioural format. The behavioural interview is very probing in nature and is based on the concept that a candidate’s past behaviour and attitude will be predictable measure of future behaviour. Navigating these interviews successfully requires that the candidate know themselves very well. You can detect whether or not they are prepared for this quite promptly.

Your goal is to assess:

  • Why the candidate made the decisions they have made that have brought them to this point in their lives?
  • How they explain and defend their decisions?


Questions that you might consider asking are as follows:

  • How have you demonstrated initiative?
  • How have you motivated yourself to complete an assignment or task that you did not want to do?
  • Think about a difficult boss, professor or other person and what made him/her difficult? How did you successfully interact with this person?
  • Think about a complex project or assignment that you have been assigned. What approach did you take to complete it?
  • Tell me about the riskiest decision that you have made.
  • Can you tell me about an occasion where you needed to work with a group to get a job done?
  • Describe when you were in danger of missing a deadline. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked with a person who did things very differently from you. How did you get the job done?
  • Describe your three greatest accomplishments to date.
  • Tell me about a situation when you had to learn something new in a short time. How did you proceed?
  • Can you tell me about a complex problem that you solved? Describe the process you utilized.
  • Tell me about a challenge that you successfully met.
  • Walk me through a situation where you had to do research and analyze the results.
  • What leadership positions have you held? Describe your leadership style.
  • What new ideas have you generated while at school or at work?
  • Describe a situation where you successfully persuaded others to do something or to see your point of view.
  • Give an example of when your persistence payed off.
  • Describe a situation where class assignments, work, or personal activities conflicted. How did you prioritize? How did you manage your time? What was the outcome?
  • How have you most constructively dealt with disappointment and turned it into a learning experience?


How Everyone Wins at Salary Negotiations

About the Author: Tom Wood is the founder and President of Watershed Associates, a Washington D.C. based consulting firm specializing in negotiations and negotiation training.  He is the coauthor of the workshop series Best Negotiating Practices.

It’s a long process, this business of recruiting, interviewing and selecting a candidate for a position in your company. But eventually, you will reach the point where you’re ready to make an offer; the candidate has indicated that he or she will likely say “yes.” And now the fun begins.

If you commence salary negotiations the way most hiring managers do, you focus on a pay range that’s available for that particular position, and open discussions at the low end. The rationale here is that it gives the employee room for advancement without necessarily needing an actual promotion. But, in truth, your marching order really is, “Get the most employee for the least amount of money.” And, if the employee isn’t a savvy negotiator, so the reasoning goes, well, so much the better for the company. But if the employee demands more, again so the reasoning goes, it gives the company some insight into how demanding that employee might be in the future. And, if that employee is really demanding, talks just might break down.

“In this tight labour market, the deal is really yours to lose.” So what do you stand to gain out of this old negotiations model? The savings of a few thousand dollars, which amortized over the course of a salary year, doesn’t really add up to much. What do you stand to lose? Rare, hard-won talent could slip through your fingers, and worse, perhaps you will lose that candidate to your competitor. But even though both of you might be equally interested in the other, in this tight labour market, the deal is really yours to lose. So here’s where negotiating becomes a selling tool for you.

This is the time when the candidate is putting the company to the test for the first time. How flexible ARE you really? How invested ARE you really in the employee’s future? How good a listener IS the company really? How committed IS the company to the principle that employees are its greatest asset? In some ways, the outcome isn’t nearly as important as the process. The WAY you negotiate — not so much the final deal — is going to determine whether that person is going to take the job.

Before dollar signs start swimming in front of your eyes, it’s helpful to understand that meeting an employee’s “demands” does not necessarily break the bank. Negotiable terms can include not only salary, but also benefits, the working environment, amount of flexibility the employee might enjoy.

Here are some tips for helping you achieve world-class negotiations and land the job candidates of your dreams:

  • Do leave room to negotiate, start low but be reasonable. Unreasonably low-balling a salary offer could stop the conversation before it really starts.
  • Avoid single-issue negotiations. A single issue, for instance, is salary. But perhaps there are other motivating factors for your candidates: Do they like to travel? Are they committed to continuing education? Is high visibility important to them? Tuition reimbursement, leave without pay, paid conference attendance can all be folded into a final employment deal.
  • Never devalue your product.  In this case, the position being negotiated. Emphasize the future potential for growth and continuing employability.
  • If a low salary is absolutely non-negotiable, try to agree to an earlier salary review.
  • If the candidate’s demands are beyond your sphere of influence, remind the candidate that the terms are company policy and that, personally, if you could meet them you would. Continue to reinforce the overall environment and that you are both on the same side. The shared goal: A perfect employment match.

But there’s more flexibility than most of us are aware of in salary negotiations. Here are some of the elements of an agreement that are the most negotiable:

  • salary
  • benefits
  • signing bonuses
  • performance bonuses
  • job responsibilities
  • review
  • profit sharing
  • equipment
  • flex-time
  • tuition, training, education
  • job description
  • severance
  • professional association memberships
  • corporate credit card
  • types of projects

As a hiring manager, you have one of the most creative positions in the company. And the results of your dedication are immediately obvious and measurable.

Where once the final line of the conversation might have been, “Congratulations you’ve got the job,”….. things have changed.  Now you’re now waiting to hear: “Congratulations, I’ll take the job.”

And isn’t that music to your ears?