How to structure a job interview

Interviewing potential employees is one of the highest value, and highest risk, activities you can do within your company.

So why is hardly anyone taught how to do it well?

After years of craving this information, last week I was able to sit down with the Head of Talent at Lystable, who advised me on how to conduct a 60 minute interview (for someone who has already passed the initial screening).

This is what he said…

0–3 mins: Try to make them feel comfortable. Introduce yourself: your name, role and what your role means in the context of what you do for the company. Tell them what the interview is for and how long it will be.

3–8 mins: Understand their why. Why do they want to leave their company? What is their motivation?

8–20 mins: Competency based questions. These should reflect the competencies required to fulfill the job they are applying for.

Keep these as broad as possible so they don’t know what you want to hear. For example, when interviewing a salesperson ask “Tell me about the deal you’re most proud of and how you achieved it”, rather than “Tell me about a time you negotiated a deal with a C-suite executive”. In the case of the latter question, a candidate may just make up a story because they now know it’s important that they have done this in the past. If they don’t give the example you’d like to hear, you can prompt them.

Situational Questions: before the interview determine the skills they need to be successful in the job, then ask them “What would you do if…”, “What do you look for in….” questions that test whether they have the skills and knowledge required to handle situations they might encounter.

20–30 mins: Understand their working style. Ask them to describe their ideal working day. For a salesperson, they should describe their call stats, their meetings with clients, how they manage reporting, the tools they use. Try to understand what targets they have at their current workplace and how they achieve them.

30–40 mins: Describe the job to them, and sell it to them. Reflect on their answers so far, why you think they would a great job, and what your reservations are.

40–50 mins: Let them respond to your reflections, and sell themselves on the job. Ask them why they want to join your company specifically.

50–60 mins: Let them ask questions. If they ask about compensation — turn the tables: “What would you need to move?”


When you come out of the interview you must know whether or not you would hire them. If you are coming to the end of the meeting and aren’t sure, tell them your reservations and let them respond to help you make the decision.

You should be able to describe to others in the company why you want to hire them, with evidence to back up your reasons.

You could pick up information that is helpful to your company from the interview, for example their clients who could be potential clients for your company, or the names of other talented employees who would be worth interviewing. Make sure to share this information with relevant colleagues.

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