The Catholic University of America

Interviewing Tips & Guidelines

I. Interviewing Styles

Structured interviews are conducted in accordance with a pre-planned agenda and a set of questions that will be asked of all applicants. Some interviewers ask the questions in the same order and others ask all of the same questions but not necessarily in the same order. Structured interviews generally provide the interviewer with the all of the information needed to make a selection. This type of interview adheres to Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policies and is defensible in complaints of discrimination since all applicants are required to answer the same set of questions.

Unstructured interviews are not conducted according to a pre-planned agenda, but rather allow the applicant to set the pace and direction of the interview. This type of interview does not always provide the interviewer with the information needed to make an informed selection. Additionally, the lack of structure makes it difficult to compare and rank applicants because they are not responding to the same questions nor providing the same information. This style of interview does not guarantee equal opportunity for all applicants and is not recommended for use at CUA.

II. Interview Preparation

Review the purpose and requirements of the position as defined by the current Job Description. Be sure to understand which are essential and which are non-essential duties.

Have a copy of the current job description ready to show to applicants during the interview.

Review the resumes of interviewees before the interview. Be familiar with each applicant's qualifications and experience as indicated on the resume, but don't prejudge based on the information contained on the resume.

Ensure that applicants have completed a CUA Application for Employment form.

Write the questions you want to ask all of the applicants. Questions should be formulated to elicit information on each applicant's knowledge, skills and abilities as they relate to the job description. Additional information on permitted and prohibited interview questions is available from Human Resources or from the Office of the General Counsel.

III. Interview Discussion

Greet the applicants and try to put them at ease at the beginning of the interview. If the applicant feels comfortable, he or she is likely to share more information.

Explain the purpose of the interview and describe the agenda so that the applicant knows what to expect during the interview.

Describe the open position and briefly provide any pertinent information about CUA.

Ask questions that facilitate discussion. Avoid questions that have yes or no answers or questions with answers built into them. Ask only job-related questions.

Listening skills are essential for an effective interviewer. Let the applicant speak without being interrupted. Remember that the purpose of the interview is to gather as much pertinent information as possible about the knowledge, skills and abilities of each applicant. Look for gaps in information and ask for clarification where needed.

Questions about race, gender, age, national origin, disabilities or perceived disabilities, marital status, family status, or veteran status are inappropriate and should not be asked. Questions about religion should not be asked except in the very few cases where religion is a bona fide job qualification (BFJQ) specifically identified in the position description. Do not ask applicants about memberships in clubs, churches, or organizations other than professional organizations.

Interviewers should be aware of the specific prohibitions imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, employers may not ask about an applicant's workers' compensation history. Further, employers may not ask if an applicant has a disability. It is permissible to ask if anything precludes an applicant from performing the essential functions of the job for which the applicant is being interviewed. Managers must be very clear on which functions are essential and should document the essential functions during the early stages of the selection process and should share that information with applicants.

Give the applicant the opportunity to ask questions about the position, the department, or about CUA.

Conclude the interview. Thank the applicant for his or her time and outline the next steps in the process. Give the applicant an estimate of when a selection decision will be made.

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