What Is an Interview Guide? (Plus Template and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're getting ready to conduct an interview, consider creating a guide to structure the discussion you want to have with an interviewee. An interview guide can help give a general outline of an interview that you can use for most types of interviews. In addition, using the guide can help you save time during your interview, as you know exactly what you want to cover. In this article, we discuss what an interview guide is, explain why it's important, share how to create one and provide a template and example to help you create your own.

What is an interview guide?

An interview guide is a list of topics and questions a hiring manager or interviewer plans to cover during an interview with a job candidate or other industry interviewee. It's an effective tool for maintaining direction and consistency during an interview. The guide often includes the following:

  • how you introduce yourself

  • questions you want to ask

  • possible follow-up questions

  • discussion points for ending the interview

Related: The 5 Steps of the Job Interview Process: A Detailed Guide

Why is a guide important for interviewing?

If you're conducting a job interview, using the guide can help you structure your questions, plan out how you can pose your questions to the interviewee and set an outline for conducting a follow-up. Here are other reasons why a guide can be an important tool when interviewing candidates:

Helps you plan for multi-level interview questions

You can use the guide for planning out different levels of questions you want to ask a candidate. For example, you can structure your guide so that you start the conversation with general questions about hobbies or interests and move into more skill- and industry-related questions. This way, you can approach the job candidate in a relaxed manner to encourage open discussion, which can help the candidate feel more comfortable and confident when delving into more in-depth questions.

Maintains consistency with multiple interviewees

A guide can be an effective way of keeping your questions consistent throughout multiple interviews. When you develop your guide, you have an outline that you can use for each interview you conduct. In addition, regardless of the interviewee's personality and background, having a solid guide can give you a method for fairly evaluating the details each candidate provides during the interview.

Related: Complete Guide to the Employee Recruitment Process

Creates opportunities for more detailed feedback

Another important reason to follow through with a guide for an interview is that it can give you a structured way to provide feedback and gain a deeper understanding of the interviewee's personality, experience and knowledge. As you conduct your interview, you can use areas of your outline to write down key information that you want to discuss further with the interviewee, either during or at the end of the interview.

How to create a guide for an interview

Here are the steps you can take to create an effective guide:

1. Make a list of topics

When creating the guide, consider making a list of topics you want to cover during the interview. You can plan around topics such as credentials, accomplishments, academic experience, personal background and other job- or industry-related topics about your interviewee. In addition, consider outlining things like interests and hobbies in your guide.

2. Include some background questions about the candidate

You can include some initial discussion questions that can serve as conversation starters. For example, you may ask questions about where the candidate is from, what their career goals are and other questions that can open up a conversation. This can give you an insight into the candidate's background knowledge, character traits and personality.

3. List some structured or industry-specific questions

After adding the general background questions you want to ask, consider outlining several structured and industry-specific questions. For example, you can plan to ask questions that can tell you about the experience of the candidate in their field and how long they've been studying or working in their discipline. Make sure to ask specific questions that tell you about the candidate's qualifications and experience.

For these types of questions, it's also important to plan out what to look for in an answer. For instance, say a hiring manager asks about a candidate's work experience. The manager may be looking for specific skills or a specific number of years that let them know that the candidate is a good fit for the role.

Related: Top 4 Strategy Interview Questions and Example Answers

4. Consider adding a plan for initiating a follow-up with the candidate

Depending on the nature of the interview you're conducting, consider including a guide for how you plan to schedule a follow-up or otherwise initiate future contact. For example, you can make a list of important steps the interviewee can take in the case of a job interview. For research or other types of interviews, you can make a note to ask the candidate about future contact. This can encourage the candidate to continue the conversation and establish a relationship with you. In the case of a job interview, consider having a specific timeline for when interviewees can expect a follow-up.

5. Include a note-taking and feedback space for each concept

Make sure to leave some extra space between each question you list and each idea or topic you want to discuss with the candidates. This open space serves as your area for taking down notes and writing specific feedback you want to discuss during and after the interview. For example, if you ask the candidate a specific question about their qualifications and they provide an example of an area of achievement or a unique certification, you can write down a brief note to discuss the topic further.

Related: How to Ask for Feedback After an Interview (Plus FAQs)

Interview guide template

Consider using the following template when writing your own guide:

Introduction

  • Introduce yourself. Mention your job title and how long you've worked with the organisation.

  • Ask the candidate questions about themselves.

General information

  • Ask the interviewee what they know about the organisation.

  • Inform the interviewee about general company details.

  • Ask the interviewee if they have any questions about you or the company.

Main questions

  • [Question no. 1]

  • [Question no. 2]

  • [Question no. 3]

  • [Question no. 4]

Conclusion

  • Ask the interviewee if they have any questions.

  • Verify contact information for the interviewee.

  • Tell the interviewee when they can expect to hear back from you.

Notes

  • Add notes here.

Example interview guides

Here are some examples of interview guides for different jobs:

Example 1

Here's a guide for a marketing director position interview:

Position: Marketing director

Introduction

  • Greet the interviewee and introduce yourself with your title and full name.

  • How are you today?

  • I see that you went to a university in Kowloon City. Is that where you're from?

General questions:

  • What do you know about the company?

  • Do you have any questions about me or the company?

Main questions:

  • What were your primary duties in your previous role?

  • What led you to pursue an advanced degree?

  • Why did you decide to leave your previous job?

  • Are you familiar with the company's project management software?

  • Tell me about a time when you reconciled differences within your team. (Consider following up with questions about management techniques and styles)

  • What would you do if you had a customer that rejected six pitches in a row?

  • How would you manage four major projects that are due in the same week? (Consider following up with questions about project management strategies and programmes)

Conclusion

  • Is this the best email and contact number for you?

  • Do you have any questions for me?

  • Thank the interviewee for their time and give them a timeframe to expect a response.

Notes:

  • The interviewee appeared to be very prepared for the interview.

  • They knew a lot about the organisation.

  • I plan to recommend this candidate to move on to the next set of interviews.

Example 2

Here's a guide for a construction superintendent position:

Position: Construction superintendent

Introduction

  • Greet the interviewee and introduce yourself.

  • How are you today?

  • How was your trip to Kowloon?

General questions

  • What do you know about the company?

  • Do you have any questions about me or the company?

Main questions

  • Have you been a superintendent before?

  • Is your contractor's licence current?

  • What other management roles have you had?

  • What's the most difficult part of working in construction management?

  • What do you love about working in construction management?

  • What's your strategy for working with different personality types? (Consider following up with questions about management style and how the interviewee defines their role in the job site)

  • How do you manage project budgets?

  • What would you do if a subcontractor is always hours late to the construction site? (Consider following up with questions about supervising multiple teams)

Conclusion

  • Is this the best email and phone number for you?

  • Do you have any questions for me?

  • Thank the interviewee for their time and give them a timeframe to expect a response.

Notes

  • Perfect answers

  • Demonstrates competency consistently, accurately and independently

  • All points are relevant

  • All good examples

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