Beware of scams

We are aware of scams coming from email and social media where people try to impersonate us. We will never ask you for money or your bank details. Learn more about what to look out for and how to protect yourself.

How to conduct a job interview

Find the perfect candidate for your vacancy with our interview guide for conducting a successful job interview

Most small business owners lack the time and resources for a lengthy recruitment process and are often faced with an essential role to fill at short notice. While hiring someone quickly may seem an ideal solution, in the long run the wrong hire may prove costly. Instead, take time to find the perfect candidate with the skills, experience and attitude that suits your company and learn how to interview. A well-conducted, face-to-face interview is a great way to assess shortlisted candidates. Here are our top interview tips for conducting a successful job interview.

Get funding of up to £25,000 with a Start Up Loan >>

Job description

Having an up-to-date, accurate job description for the role you’re looking to fill is essential, but it’s worth thinking about why you need this role to be filled and how critical it is to your business. Consider what skills and attitude the perfect employee should possess and how you will measure success in the position. Spending time establishing exactly what you’re looking for will help you find the best candidate for the position. This doesn’t mean the best candidate from the pool of interviewees – if none of the candidates match your requirements, then you should carry on looking.

Choose the right interview setting

Interviews should take place somewhere quiet, clean and confidential. Avoid conducting an interview in the middle of your office or at your desk. If that’s the only option, make sure you’re not interrupted by setting calls to go to voicemail.

Do your interview preparation

Before the interview, thoroughly read the candidate’s CV or application. It’s also worth checking the background of your candidate by looking at Google, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. This preparation will counter our natural tendency to form instant opinions based on first impressions. Remember a candidate may be nervous in a face-to-face job interview and not perform as well as they could.

Explain the interview process

Interviews work best when everyone involved knows what to expect: when, where and by who they’ll be interviewed. Let them know too whether they’ll be expected to complete some form of job test, have a follow-up interview and how soon you’ll be making a decision. Remember that good candidates are likely to be applying for other jobs too and if your hiring process is chaotic, they may decide your company isn’t the best match for them.

Aim for a conversation

Think of the interview as a conversation rather than an interrogation. When you ask a question, be sure to listen carefully and don’t interrupt the candidate while they’re still talking. Leaving a pause after a person has finished speaking can be a useful technique, as interviewees often fill the silence by offering more details or further examples.

Prepare interview questions in advance

Interview questions should focus on the candidate’s skills, experience and suitability for the position. Open ended questions are best. Avoid leading too much, you want to hear what the candidate thinks – not that they simply agree with you. Ask all the applicants the same basic set of questions ¬so you can make a useful comparison later.

Take interview notes

Taking notes throughout the interview helps you remember each candidate clearly, especially if interviewing on your own. However, be careful what you write – notes must be factual and objective. If you’re later accused of any form of discrimination in your hiring process, these notes will be made available to the candidate and their legal team.

Provide a follow-up after the interview

Not replying to unsuccessful candidates is not only incredibly rude, it may damage your company’s reputation. No matter how busy you are, be courteous enough to send a simple letter or email to every candidate, stating that their application was unsuccessful but thanking them for applying.


Learn with Start Up Loans and help get your business off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.

Our free  Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:

Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, and leadership.


Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

Feeling Inspired?