How To Run a Job Interview

Follow these tips and hints to improve how you run job interviews…


Hello. I’m Jennifer Whitt, Director of Welcome to and today’s whiteboard session.

Believe it or not, companies are actually hiring again and part of the project manager role is to participate in job interviews. One fallacy of project managers preparing for interviewing people for their projects in the roles is lack of preparation. I have a few other techniques I want to share for you that will ensure that you’ll get the right person on your team.

I want to share with you today how to run a job interview. I think there are five important steps. One is preparation. Really be clear yourself before the interview or actually engaging a potential participant for the interview.

Be really clear about what role it is that you want this person to provide and what the expectations are. Are there expectations on their experience, their training, their knowledge? What are the expectations of the project?

Are you going to need them to be there after hours? Be really clear about what it is that you expect from that person.

Number two is actually running the background checks. Run a background check on people who submit their resume prior to any interview. You can easily do that by LinkedIn now. Go to LinkedIn and search for the person’s name. You can look at their background and their work history. Do they have any recommendations? Who are they connected to? Look at any of the groups they may be participating in. Look and see if they’re active in any of the project manager groups or if there is a certain technology or a background that you need that person in, and see if they’re connected.

Also, you can do Google. I love doing Google on people’s names because I’m always shocked at what I find. Most of the time I’m shocked in a good way because if I Google someone’s name I may find out, “Wow, I didn’t know that person was a writer,” or maybe they’re a speaker or maybe they have been quoted in certain other industry publications. You might find things that the person has in their toolset that you may not be aware of and maybe they haven’t had an opportunity, through either speaking with you or through their resume, to communicate that. I like going in knowing who that person is and that gives me a leeway into the conversation with that person. It makes me feel more comfortable that I know about them before the interview and it makes that person more comfortable seeing that there was an interest in them, too.

The other one is the interview structure. How are you going to conduct the interview? Are you first going to do a phone interview? One of the things that I tried to do over the past couple of years is do a phone interview before I actually brought the person in face-to-face. Some of your potential people may be remote. They may be in another country or another city, so the face-to-face may not be an option anyway. I always like a phone interview for several reasons.

Number one, if you try to schedule a time, are they prompt? Are they actually available the day and time you say? If they can’t be available, do they contact you to reschedule? If you call them, are they available? Find out little things like that about a person before you even engage with them on the phone the first time. When you do a face-to-face interview, are you going to have a panel or is it going to be with you one-on-one? If it’s a panel, who’s going to be there? Are your technical team members going to be there? Are the business unit people going to be there, or some of your stakeholders?

How many times have you shown up at a site and you think you’re there for maybe a 20 or 30 minute interview and you end up being there for a couple hours? I don’t know about you, but I have my schedule set, so if I’m an interviewee, I like to know going in whether they need me for 20 minutes or 30 minutes. I don’t like to show up and then go through the whole business of shaking hands with people I maybe didn’t expect. As an interviewee, they want to be prepared for who they are speaking with and what they’re going to be talking about. Out of courteousness, give the person an idea of the structure of the interview so they can be prepared and likewise you can be, too.

Then, the actual interview process. What is that interview process going to be? Have you ever shown up at that interview and the people interviewing you don’t know who’s speaking, so it’s kind of that awkward moment of,

“Well, we’re glad you can make it. Let’s see, what’s your name? What are you doing here?” It’s very impromptu, it’s very informal. No one knows who’s guiding that process. So as a project manager, you need to know the structure. Who’s going to be asking the questions? Know what responses you’re looking for, and as they’re answering, have in mind, “What kind of person is this? Do they give me very detailed answers? Do they give me very intuitive answers? Are they an intuitive person or very detailed? Are they an optimistic or pessimistic person?” Just being aware of their responses gives you an idea of who that candidate is.

It’s important for you going in to know what the next steps are as well being clear for the person you’re interviewing. Letting them know what time frame you will be making this decision. Will they hear back from you in a day?

Do you need them right away? Will they expect to hear back from you in a week? Then, letting them know the next steps if they are chosen. Is there another step in the interview process? Will they be interviewed by other people? Then, what would be the employment process once they are brought on-board?

Those are some of the things to think about in preparing for an interview to make it fun but yet letting you be prepared and let the person be prepared. Remember, as a reminder to you as a project manger interviewing these people for your team and project, they are interviewing you, too. So if you seem scattered, unprepared, not knowing really what you want, those people are evaluating you and you may not be a project manager they want to report too and it may not be the project or the environment they want to participate in.

So three reminders, three key words I think are important in this is clarity, expectation, and action. I hope you found these helpful. If you need additional tips, tools and techniques for your next job interview, be sure to join us at

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