Interview Preparation/


This section provides information on many components involved with the interview process: developing appropriate interview questions, structuring the interview, and handling hospitality expenses.

Developing Interview Questions
Types of Interview Questions
Structuring the Interview
Conducting Multiple Interviews

Travel Procedures for Interviews

Developing Interview Questions

The goal of the interview is to determine the knowledge, skills, and abilities of a prospective employee. It should be conducted so that it provides as much information as possible about an applicant's potential to perform the duties of a particular position. To do this, the interview questions and process must be developed with this goal in mind.

When developing interview questions, the questions should be job specific and appropriate for the complexity and level of the position. They should also relate to the position requirements on the PeopleAdmin position description. During this development, you will need to determine what type of interview questions to include and how they will be evaluated.

Compliance is also an important consideration during the interview process. To ensure equal employment opportunity, interviewers must be consistent throughout the interview process, making sure both the format of the interviews and the basic questions asked of each candidate are the same.

Types of Interview Questions

1. The types of interview questions used are determined by the type of information you are attempting to gain from the candidate.

  • General knowledge interview questions may be used to verify certain information or knowledge.
    • Tell me about your CPA experience.
    • Tell me about your experience working with students in a higher education setting.
    • Can you elaborate on your education? Have you completed your degree program?
    • What medical licenses or certifications do you currently hold?
  • Questions aimed at clarifying information provided on application documentation would also fall into this category.
  • Behavioral interview questions are used to determine how a candidate dealt with specific job related situations. The information provided by the candidate is then analyzed in an attempt to determine how they may respond to similar situations in the future.
    • What do you do when your schedule is interrupted? Give an example of how you handle it.
    • Tell me about the most difficult co-worker you have worked with. How was he or she difficult? Have you handled a difficult situation with a client or customer? How?
    • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  • Situational interview questions are similar to behavioral interview questions. Instead of asking about past situations, the candidate is presented with scenarios and asked how they would respond in the given situation.
    • It's 2 p.m. and you have a critical report due to your manager at 4:00 p.m. A very important customer calls with a crisis, needing your immediate attention. How would you respond?

2. Human Resources has made available a comprehensive list of acceptable interview questions.

3. The law is very clear about the types of questions that may not be asked during the interview process. It is unlawful to discriminate against anyone in any aspect of employment or the employment process on the basis of age, race, sex, national origin, religion, creed, color, disability status or disabled veteran's status, sexual orientation, citizenship or inpending citizenship. Any concerns about the appropriateness of questions relating to any of these areas should be discussed with the Office of Human Resources prior to conducting interviews.

  • Irrelevant or “nice to know” questions should never be asked. The following information should be obtained, if needed, only after the person has accepted an offer of employment.
  • Questions related to candidate name that might indicate marital status, ancestry, national origin or descent are inappropriate.
  • Age related questions are only appropriate if there if age is a legal requirement (i.e. must be 18 years or older to work here). If age is not a legal requirement for the position, all questions that could be considered age related should be avoided (i.e. “When did you graduate from high school?”). NOTE: The Kansas Act Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination against persons age 18 and over.
  • No questions should be asked related to race or color, gender, ancestry, national origin, or birthplace.
  • Do not ask questions related to marital status or family status. This would include questions related to pregnancy, the number of children in the household, or child care availability.
  • Do not ask candidates about their native language.
  • Questions related to religion should be avoided. Candidates should be given the hours and days of their work schedule. Employers must make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious practices. Should you encounter a situation where a candidate requests accommodation, please contact the Office of Human Resources.
  • No questions should be asked about a candidates arrest records. Questions concerning convictions may be asked if job related.
  • Questions related to citizenship should be avoided unless the position has ITAR restrictions concerning citizenship.
  • For candidates with military service, questions related to the type of discharge are not allowable.
  • Credit report information or other types of financial data should not be a part of the interview process unless it is a business necessity to have this information. This includes garnishments and filing for bankruptcy. Please contact the Office of Human Resources for more information on this topic.
  • Do not ask candidates about home ownership.
  • Candidates with Disabilities - The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") prohibits employers from asking disability-related questions to employment applicants.
    • A "disability-related question" is any question that is likely to elicit information about disability. Under the ADA, an employer cannot lawfully ask an applicant whether he has a particular disability nor ask questions that are closely related to a disability.
    • During the interview process, the candidate can be asked about their ability to perform the essential functions of the job for which he or she is applying, with or without reasonable accommodation.
  • Other problematic types of questions:
    • What does your wife do for a living?
    • Have you experienced any significant illness in the past year?
    • How long to you plan to work before retiring?
    • Where did you grow up?

4. When developing your interview questions, make sure to include those aimed at clarifying information provided on application documentation. There are often items that are hard to score or cannot be scored. Make sure to address these.

5. It is best practice to notate which question relates to which criteria.

For example: “As you know, this position will assist small business owners. Therefore we require three years of experience working with the public, please explain in detail your experience. (Required #3)”
“As a curator for the Ulrich Museum there may be opportunities for educational presentations. Explain your teaching experience within the context of an art museum. (Preferred #2)”

6. The Candidate Selection forms allow for “fit” interview questions. These questions are not directly linked to the requirements of the position. Their results will be noted in the University Competencies notes section on each Candidate Selection form.

Fit questions should be designed to determine if a candidate will represent the values of the University and the respective department. Examples of fit questions include:

For a department that experiences constant change:
Tell me about a time you had to learn a new skill or process. How did you handle it? What were your frustrations?
For a position that has to make decisions without guidance:
Often times we do not have all the information we would like, but still have to make a decision: tell me how you handle these situations. Give some examples and explain if you would handle them differently.

Please contact OHR or the Office of EEO for additional information.

7. All structured interview questions should be identical for each applicant; however it is always acceptable to ask the candidate questions regarding the material they submitted. Common examples include:

  • I see from your application and resume you do not list any work history between 2006 and 2010 can you explain? (The answer to this may return personal information such as “I was a stay at home mom or I had to care for my ill mother.” This is okay however you should not ask further questions.)
  • Your application indicates you supervised 4 employees while at the Acme organization. Your job title there was ‘worker bee’. Can you explain?
  • You indicate you left your first job to make more money. Your second job was a lower salary. Can you explain?
  • In your cover letter you say you have experience with budgets. Can you tell me which job you were working when you gained that experience?
  • I see in your last three jobs your salary was over $60,000. This job has an annual salary of $40,000. Are you aware of this?
  • In your previous positions you held a supervisory role. This job will not supervise others. Are you aware of this? Do you feel you will be comfortable in this role?

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Structuring the Interview

1. Before scheduling interviews with the candidate pool from the Applicant Document Review form, the structure of the interview should be developed. Having a plan for the interview process itself will help ensure that the process flows smoothly and that you use the time with the candidate in the best way possible.

2. To start the planning process, determine where the interview will be held. Is the location inviting? Does it have all of the technical requirements needed for your interview process? Is it easily accessible? Is it handicap accessible?

3. What will the seating arrangements be during the interview? Will the search committee and candidate sit around a table in more informal setting? Or will the interview be “panel style”, with the candidate on one side of the table and the search team on the other? Keep in mind that the setting of the interview can either help put the candidate at ease, or cause stress for the candidate. Whenever possible, always aim to put the candidate at ease. This will help build rapport during the process, which typically leads to a more comfortable experience for both the candidate and the search team members.

  • If using phone interviews, make sure that the location is quiet enough not to disrupt being able to effectively communicate with the candidate.
  • Before the interview, the search chair should discuss the expectations of the search team. Appropriate dress and assignment of the candidate introduction process should be discussed. Also, search team members should know in advance which questions they will be responsible for asking.

4. What will you do to get the interview started once the initial introductions are complete? Many search teams use “ice breaker” activities to start the free flow of information from the candidate. Samples of appropriate questions include:

  • Thank you for coming in today – did you have any problems finding our office?
  • Tell me - Why are you interested in working for Wichita State?
  • What is it about this position that led you to submit your application?
  • Always offer the candidate water or other beverages when available. Interviews are stressful. This action alone can be another type of “icebreaker”.
  • Feel free to contact OHR for additional creative suggestions.

5. What activities will the candidate complete? Will there be a campus tour? Will a presentation be required? Will there be any type of testing or writing requirement? Will role plays be a part of the process? All of these things should be considered during interview planning. Appropriate resources should be located and available to the candidate for the required activities.

  • When using activities, make sure that instructions for them are clear, and that each search team member knows what part they will play in the activity. When applicable, desired outcomes for the activities should also be identified beforehand.
  • Feel free to contact OHR for additional suggestions.

6. Once the structure and format of the interview has been established, the interviews can then be scheduled with the approved candidates. During the process, the following should be covered:

  • Location, duration and time of the interview. Include any information that could be an issue for the candidate, such as traffic or parking.
  • Who the candidate will be meeting with. This does not mean giving out names, but can be more general in nature. For example, you could tell the candidate “You will be meeting with the search team for the position, which is made up of 4 team members from the department”.
  • Give the candidate information concerning anything that needs to be developed for the interview, such as a portfolio sample or presentation.
  • Provide the candidate with contact information in case they have follow-up questions or they are unable to keep their scheduled interview time.

7. When the candidate appears for the interview, they should sign and date the Background Authorization and Release form. This process should be completed for both USS and UP/Faculty candidates.

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Conducting Multiple Interviews

1. As you work through the interview process, you may find that you need to interview candidates multiple times to determine who ultimately is the best fit for your position. 2nd or 3rd interviews are considered an acceptable part of the recruiting process and should be used when needed to accurately compare and contrast candidate qualifications.

2. Whenever multiple interviews are conducted, a Candidate Selection form must be completed in each round.

3. All notes for each interview session should be kept so that they can be included in the final search packet, which is assembled at the time a final candidate is selected.

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Travel Expenses for Candidates

WSU has established procedures for addressing travel expenses for candidates being interviewed. All travel arrangements must be made through the selected vendor, Sunflower Travel Corporation as outlined in Policy 3.28.

For specific instructions, forms, and policy questions, please visit the Travel Procedures for Interviewing Candidates.

These instructions apply to USS and UP searches.
For information on Faculty searches, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs.

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Revised: 09/06/2018 DC