The Essential Guide To Hiring Manager Interview Questions

Hiring Success Glossary

As a hiring manager, your job is to help your company find the most qualified candidates to fill open roles. But, at times, it can feel overwhelmingly complicated -- especially the interviews! 

That’s why in this essential interview guide, we’re sharing with you a 20 point checklist you can use to make sure your interview process covers everything you need to confidently hire the right applicants. We’ll also share an interview scorecard template you can use to ensure you have consistent evaluation metrics for each interview. 

But before we get those helpful resources, let’s go over a few basics for anyone new to being a hiring manager. 

What is a hiring manager?

A hiring manager is someone responsible for interviewing and hiring employees for a company. While recruiters may help a company find and screen candidates, it’s the hiring manager who ultimately makes the final hiring decision. 

What is a hiring manager interview? 

Hiring manager interviews are typically one-on-one interviews between the hiring manager and applicant. These interviews usually happen after the initial screening of applicants. During the interview, the hiring manager will conduct an in-depth conversation with the applicant about his or her background, work experience, skills, knowledge about the company, and more.

An Essential Interview Question Checklist for Hiring Managers

With those basic questions out of the way, we can now dive into the good stuff! Here’s the 20-point checklist you can use to make sure you’ve covered everything that you need to do before, during, and after the interview. 

Before the interview

#1. Who should be part of the hiring team? 

Once you have identified that you will need to hire for an open role, you should form a hiring team. For example, your hiring team may include a recruiter and one or more core members of the team that the new hire will eventually join. 

#2. What are the hiring objectives and goals?

Setting objectives and goals at the beginning of the hiring process will ensure you and your hiring team have a common understanding of the ideal candidate. For example, you might have a hiring objective like, “hire a UX Manager within 3 months to lead development of our new consumer app.” 

#3. Have you reviewed the job description thoroughly?

Before the interview, review the job description that the applicant viewed when applying for the job. This will help remind you of which types of experience and skills are required for the role and which ones are just nice-to-have.

#4. Do you have a structure for the interview?

Spend some time structuring your interview by sections, including time for warming up and wrapping up the interview. Remember that the interview is not only to ask questions. It is also to get to know the person who may potentially end up working with you. Structuring your interview, you’ll also avoid spending too much or too little time on a particular question.

#5. Are you prepared for the interview format?

Different interview formats - be it a phone, video, or in-person interview - require different types of preparation. For example, if it is an in-person interview, you might need to book office meeting rooms in advance. For virtual interviews, make sure you have a distraction-free environment and a stable internet connection.

#6. Have you scripted the essential interview questions?

Always draft and write down some essential questions before the interview. Make sure each question has an objective so you can derive specific insights from the candidate’s answer. 

For example, if you want to know if the candidate is a team player, asking questions like “Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision made by your superior” can help you understand the candidate’s collaboration and communication skills. 

Also, if you have doubts about whether asking a particular question is appropriate, verify the legality of that interview question beforehand.

#7. Have you rehearsed the interview questions?

Hiring is a two-way street. While you are looking for the perfect candidate, the applicant is also looking for an ideal company to work for. Your professionalism will indicate how serious you and your team are about finding the right person to fill this open position. For that reason, it’s important to familiarize yourself with and rehearse your essential interview questions beforehand.

#8. Have you done your research and preparation?

One of your primary goals during the interview is to gain a holistic understanding of the applicant’s experience and qualifications. To make sure you’re not asking for information that’s already available to you, review the applicant’s resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. This may also help you identify any interesting points that you’d like to ask for more information about. 

During the interview

#9. Have you communicated the interview format and expectations?

Inform the candidate about the interview format, such as the length of the interview and what is the objective of the particular interview. Setting expectations at the beginning of the interview will give applicants a clearer idea of what they should do and say during the interview. 

#10. Have you created a comfortable and conversational environment?

Start the interview with standard and open-ended questions, such as “tell me about yourself”, that allow the interviewee to warm up. Remember that most hiring interviews are not a test (unless you are doing a technical interview), and applicants will be more authentic if they feel comfortable.

#11. Are you asking good questions?

Avoid common questions that are overused and boring such as “where do you see yourself in five years?”. The key of a hiring interview is to know how well the candidate could fit in your team, not how well they can predict the future. If you are really curious about their career motivation, ask about their short-term and long-term career strategy instead.

#12. Are you consistent across the interviews?

One potential pitfall of hiring interviews is not having consistency across applicants. This may not seem like a problem at first. But it could make it difficult to accurately evaluate and compare applicants later. That’s why it’s important to do your best to stick to the same interview format and questions during the entire hiring process. 

#13. Are you taking detailed notes?

As humans, we suffer from several cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias and decision fatigue. And whether you realize it or not, these biases can have an impact on how you recall your impression of each candidate once the interview process is over. Writing down notes during and after each interview will help you to remember the highlights of each candidate and, ultimately, choose the right person for the job. 

#14. Are you using an interview scorecard?

Following the previous two principles, creating or using an interview scorecard template (like the one we’ve shared below) is an undeniably helpful tool. By using the scorecard, you can help make sure you’re evaluating each candidate fairly and consistently, using the same criteria. 

#15. Are you giving the interviewee enough time to talk?

The goal of a hiring interview is to learn about the candidate’s qualifications and determine whether they’re a good fit for the role. So, make sure you allocate enough time for them to talk rather than monopolize the conversation. Your key role in the interview is to ask questions and listen actively.

#16. Are you ready to answer the candidate's questions?

While your goal is to find talent to onboard your team, you are also selling your company to the applicant. You should always be ready to answer potential questions about topics such as your company’s values, mission, and culture. You should also be prepared to discuss details regarding the compensation package. 

After the interview

#17. Did you express appreciation and align expectations?

At the end of the interview, spend a couple of minutes to thank the applicant for their interest in the position and for making time for the interview. Also, let them know the expected timeline of the hiring process and how they will be notified. This will help to mitigate the uncertainties on the candidate’s end and create a good impression for your company. 

#18. Do you know what you’ll do with your interview scorecards?

After conducting all the interviews, consolidate the notes you took on your interview scorecards. Then, you can decide who should proceed to the next round of interviews, if any. It’s also a good idea to make a digital copy of the scorecard to prevent losing the information by accident.  

#19. Have you made a plan to discuss your thoughts with the rest of the hiring team?

Share your notes with your hiring team. In some cases, there will be multiple hiring managers. So, in this stage, you might also want to set up a meeting to discuss each potential candidate with your team and finalize which ones should proceed to the next stage of the hiring process.  

#20. How can you improve the hiring process?

We all learn from experience! You might face some difficulties as a hiring manager for your first few interviews. So, spend some time going over your experience. What went well? What could be improved? The insights you gain from this reflection will help you avoid mistakes and be even more effective during your next hiring interview. 

Hiring Interview Scorecard Template

Scorecard Template  Rating: 1 = Poor; 3 = Average; 5 = Exceptional
Score Criteria for (hiring role) 1 2 3 4 5
Criterion Example:
#1 Customer-focused: How well does this candidate demonstrate knowledge about our company’s target consumers? 
Criterion 2: Define the description of this criterion and provide a good example          
Criterion 3: Define the description of this criterion and provide a good example          
Criterion 4: Define the description of this criterion and provide a good example          
Criterion 5: Define the description of this criterion and provide a good example          
Criterion 6: Define the description of this criterion and provide a good example          
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