Get Ready for a Successful Interview

Jun 16, 2023

5 min read

Interviewing exceptional talent is no easy feat! From “Initial greetings” to “We’ll be back to you within…” we must ensure a genuine candidate’s experience. 

Have you ever had to replace a colleague at the last minute and arrive at the interview without having prepared? Hopefully not, but it can happen. 

I like to be ready for an interview, so in this article, I’ll share essential steps we can take to prepare for a first interview with the candidates.

From setting the agenda to leaving room for candidate questions, let’s explore the art of recruiter preparation for the initial interview process. 

Setting the Agenda for Success

Align with the Hiring Manager

As mentioned in the previous article (Unlocking the Secrets to Effective Job Descriptions), it’s crucial to understand the ideal candidate we want to bring on board our team. During the kick-off meeting, ask the hiring manager specific questions that will help assess candidates during the first interview and determine if they are a good fit before moving forward.

Timing is Everything

The first interview with the recruiter typically lasts 30 to 45 minutes. Share your calendar with candidates, providing them with different slot options. If your ATS doesn’t allow calendar sharing, use tools like Calendly, a free online appointment scheduling software, to simplify the process.

Outlining the Purpose

Informing candidates about the interview's agenda is essential for their preparation and comfort during the conversation. In the invitation email, clearly articulate what will be covered and provide them with a link to the company website to facilitate their understanding. 

Set expectations by including a statement, try to tick off the five Ws 

Who Interviewer names and titles

What Interview types and agendas

When Date, time, and duration of the interview 

Where Office address or video call link

Why The aim of the interview

“Hi, I’m Ivana, Talent Acquisition Specialist….The interview is scheduled to take place on [Date] at [Time] and will last approximately [X] minutes. The goal of this interview is for me to get to know you and your experience better and for you to ask any questions you may have about the job opportunity. We believe this interview will serve as an important step in determining if your goals and ambitions align with our company's culture and the position you are applying for…To familiarize yourself with our company, we encourage you to visit our webpage at [Company Website Link]... ”

Interview Kit

We can utilize our Internal Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), such as Teamtailor, which offers features to create tailored interview kits for each step of the hiring process and different positions. 

Alternatively, use a note-taking system to record relevant details and observations during the interview.

The Interview kit should include open-ended questions so the candidates can reply with detailed responses and share examples from their past experiences.

Additionally, consider incorporating Likert scale questions to evaluate candidates' communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and specific tool knowledge on a scale from 1 to 5.

With limited time for questions, selecting the right ones becomes a challenge. However, a well-structured interview relies on the inclusion of essential inquiries such as:

General understanding of the candidate’s profile

  • background, experience, key achievements

  • potential fit for the role

  • candidate's motivations and industry knowledge

Cultural fit

  • To explore values, work environment preferences, and collaboration style

  • To gauge compatibility with the organization's culture

Behavioral Strategic Interview Questions 

  • To uncover the candidate's approach to challenges, teamwork, and decision making

Role-specific strategic interview questions

  • To assess skills and knowledge directly related to the role we are hiring

Resources for you ❤️ 

Here you can find 110 + interview questions by Workable.

Xref Template Builder is a free question template builder.

Remember that these questions should be a good mix that provides short and long answers and also customize them based on the conversation and experiences of candidates (avoid one-size-fits-all questions 😉)

I usually add a “Note field” to write a summary of the candidate's profile. 

This ensures accuracy and consistency in evaluating candidates and provides a valuable reference for future discussions.

During the call:

Introduce Yourself

At the beginning of the call, we should introduce ourselves and provide a brief overview of our role within the organization. Also, make the candidate feel comfortable interacting with us, with a friendly greeting and asking how they are doing to set a positive tone. Then, set the agenda with the candidate: “This interview will last about X minutes, firstly..., then… and at the end… ”

Communicating Expectations

Since the beginning of the interview, be transparent about your expectations for the role. Clearly articulate the key responsibilities, qualifications, and any specific attributes crucial for success. The interview is about attraction, so we should highlight insights that reflect our company’s values and culture.

Leaving Time for Candidate Questions

As the interview draws to a close, allocate 5-10 minutes for the candidate to ask questions. This demonstrates that you value their engagement and allows them to clarify doubts or seek additional information about the role or company.

Conclusion of the call

Express your appreciation for the candidate's time and interest in the role. Reinforce the next steps in the hiring process, such as when they can expect to hear back from us regarding their application or potential following interviews.

Write a Summary and share a Feedback 

At the end of the interview, take a few minutes to summarize the main points discussed. This summary acts as a comprehensive reference and helps avoid overlooking important details as you interview different candidates. It also serves as a valuable reference when we share feedback with them.

Timely and constructive feedback is crucial for candidates, regardless of whether they move forward in the selection process. Set up a reminder to share feedback. 

If your ATS doesn’t provide this function, you can use tools such as Microsoft To Do.

Provide specific feedback that highlights the candidates’ strengths and areas for improvement, and focus on actionable insights that can help them grow professionally, even if they are not chosen for the role. 

Easy to say not that easy when it comes to reality!

Having a feedback template ready facilitates the process of sharing feedback at each step of the hiring process. While the template provides a structure for the message, it must be customized based on the specific reasons for rejection, especially when the person has reached advanced stages of the hiring process and has undergone technical or challenging interviews.

So, how can we customize the feedback effectively? Using our summary notes and collecting feedback from the hiring manager and all the colleagues involved in the evaluation process to provide detailed and well-constructed messages to the candidate.


With adequate preparation, recruiters can optimize candidate interviews and lay the foundation for successful hiring decisions. From setting the agenda, taking comprehensive notes, being transparent about expectations, leaving room for candidate questions, and sharing constructed feedback, we can create an engaging and insightful interview experience. 

What we covered in this article is related only to the first interview with the recruiter, in future articles we will discover more about the next step of the hiring process. 

For now, Happy interviewing 🤓

Your Friendly TA Ivana


Share with your friends

If you enjoyed this article feel free to share across your network and add your thoughts about it.


Share with your friends

If you enjoyed this article feel free to share across your network and add your thoughts about it.

Let's connect!

© 2023 Ivana Evola

Made with 💙 by Daniele

Let's connect!

© 2023 Ivana Evola

Made with 💙 by Daniele