The Proper Interview

The Kona team conducts recruiting and interview training for many of our clients. We thought it would be pertinent to review some key elements of the proper interview.


Before the interview several compliance related items should have happened.

  • Employment Application: Your firm may have a job application which will speak to employment eligibility requirements. If not, the candidate needs to be told that upon hire they will need to demonstrate that they are eligible to work in the United States. They will be required to fill out an I-9 form with the proper documentation upon hire.
  • Job Description: Candidates should be given a complete job description. The applicant needs to hear or read the following, “Can you perform the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodation.” They need to be given a chance to answer this question.
  • Background Checks: If you perform background checks, there may be specific rules on the timing and regulations depending on where you are located. In any case, the applicant needs to know that a background check is a condition of employment.


  • Location: If we are interviewing top talent we are on display as well. Managers should pick a quiet environment where they will not be disturbed. Leave your phone in another location! Also, sitting next to the participant at the conference table is much different than sitting behind a large desk. We recommend the approachable alternative.
  • Group Interviews: We feel that it is better for a candidate to interview with people individually rather than in a group. The group can meet afterward to discuss the candidate.
  • Lunch: Wo don’t recommend interviews around meals as they usually result in misadventures.
  • Introduction: Managers should describe the position and the culture of the company in the first 5 to 10 minutes of the meeting. At the end of this you can ask questions to gauge whether or not the candidate has done an appropriate level of research on the company and the position. If they haven’t done any research it’s strike one.
  • Improper Questions: This is where most interviewers fall flat. In an attempt to make small talk, managers will ask illegal questions such as: Are you married? How many kids to you have? When did you graduate from there? We have a list of “illegal” questions that we give out during training. We recommend that some managers laminate the list for future reference! Contact us at if you’d like a copy.
  • Open Ended Questions: Too often, managers ask closed questions, rather than open ended questions. We want the candidates to answer in paragraphs not sentences.
  • Focus: Managers need to focus their questions relevant to the essential functions of the job.  “How did your time as a military officer prepare you for a project management position,” is appropriate. “What was it like to jump out of a plane,” is not appropriate. I personally don’t believe that the questions on strengths and weaknesses are relevant as most people have practiced an answer to these. The best answer to the weakest question I ever had, was from the candidate that said his productivity waned in the presence of Kryptonite.
  • Culture: We want to make sure that there is a cultural fit in terms of the candidate’s previous positions and we want to question them on their work style.


  • Timing: We need to be honest with candidates. We need to give them a timeline on our planned actions. We need to follow up with them as promised.
  • Notification: Don’t make the mistake of informing the others that they were not selected until your first choice has accepted and started.
  • Feedback: Ask recent hires what they think about the process. They are now on your team and provide you good information on your process as well as the other companies’ processes that they may have been going through as well.