Five key principles of effective interviewing

person in an interview

By Cambridge Network

If you're new to the process of interviewing and selection, or you are already involved and want to refresh your skills, it's worth bearing in mind these five key principles. They will help you master the art of effective interviewing and enable to you identify the best possible candidate for your organisation.

1. Prepare thoroughly before the interview 

2. Make it a conversation, not an interrogation 

3. Be expansive – explain the process and next steps 

4. Be objective – assess against the job criteria 

5. Look for potential – think long-term 



Think about where the interview will be held. If it's face to face, find a quiet place where you can put the candidate at ease. If it is online, ask the candidate to ensure there will be no interruptions if possible - and if there are any, be understanding: it's not always easy for people to ignore the demands of their families and home life.  

Review the candidate's CV and application/ cover letter and decide the questions you want to ask ahead of time (but be ready to go with the flow). It may be obvious, but it is also important for you to know the full spec of the job for which you are hiring! 


Establish rapport with your candidate at the outset because this is a dialogue, not an interrogation. You need to actively listen and invite questions  the candidate needs to understand your business and company culture just as much as you need to know more about him or her. Keep control of the process by sticking to the time allowed. 


At the outset, explain the process and likely recruitment timeframe. Expand on the requirements of the job and outline the likely tasks and responsibilities. If you can, agree to follow up after the interview or provide email feedback. 


While you need to analyse body language and consider your first impressions, it is essential that you assess the candidate's competencies against the job criteria, using a scoring system if one applies.   


In every type of organisation, it's crucial to hire candidates who can grow and develop into taking on more complex, challenging responsibilities, so you need to think long-term. You also need to know what you are looking for. 

Research has suggested five critical traits of high-potential candidates:

  1. Curiosity 

  1. Determination 

  1. Engagement 

  1. Insight  

  1. Motivation, which is where we need to focus our attention when interviewing. 

Learn the fundamentals of effective interviewing  

Cambridge Network's Learning Collaboration Interviewing Skills training course provides a practical approach to the recruitment and selection process, with tips and techniques to help you to structure interviews, ask key, searching questions and present your business in the best way possible. An interview is a two-way process and competition to hire the best candidate is often strong. 

This one-day course, available online, next takes place on 23 Feb 2021. It will earn you 6.5 CPD points. 


Cambridge Network is a membership organisation based in the vibrant high technology cluster of Cambridge, UK. We bring people together - from business and academia - to meet each other and share ideas, encouraging collaboration and partnership for shared success.

Cambridge Network Limited