Interviews are a required step in the selection process and must be conducted before an offer of employment is made to a finalist for the position. Two or more applicants should be interviewed for a position. In rare circumstances, a search committee or interview panel may interview only one applicant, but this must be approved by VCU HR
Suggest encouraging the use of phone interviews as an efficient and cost effective way to obtain additional information on more candidates.
The purpose of an interview is to elicit information from an applicant to determine his or her ability to perform the job. Successful interviewers learn how to ask the right kind of questions, how to keep the applicant talking about relevant information, and how to listen. A successful interview should gather information about a candidate, present a realistic description of the position, ensure a fair selection process, establish adequate records in the event that the hiring decision must be justified, and determine whether the candidate would succeed in the position.
In preparing for interviews, search committee or interview panelists should:
- Develop a uniform set of questions asked of applicants being interviewed
- Review the required application materials for interviewed applicants, such as presentations, writing samples and other relevant work products
- Consider requiring finalists for a position to demonstrate through oral presentations or written exercises their competency for the position
- Develop a uniform set of criteria to be used in evaluating each applicant’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the required and preferred qualifications
- Avoid questions that probe for information about race, sex, age, religion, or national origin to avoid any propensity for discriminatory treatment.
What is the new diversity and inclusion competency assessment item?
Diversity and inclusion is a VCU core competency. Staff candidate assessment now includes a process for evaluating a candidate's understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusion at work. All interviews will include the following question for assessing a candidate’s understanding and application of diversity and inclusion. “Describe your understanding of diversity. How do you promote equity and inclusion in the workforce?”
When does this go into effect?
Effective Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, the diversity and inclusion competency assessment item is a required component of all interviews for full or part-time staff and hourly staff positions.
What will be done to prepare candidates to respond to the diversity and inclusion competency assessment item?
As part of the application process, the VCU Jobs home page will include the following verbiage: "VCU strives to foster a climate of mutual respect and trust where individuals of differing cultural backgrounds, identities, abilities and life experiences are embraced, engaged and empowered to drive excellence and achieve success. Every member of the university community has a stake in and responsibility for VCU’s continual achievement of inclusive excellence. Every member of the university community should know VCU is a place where they can come and achieve their goals, and that VCU is invested in their success, health and well-being. During the interview process, please be prepared to discuss your understanding of diversity and how you promote equity and inclusion in the workforce."
How will interview panels and search committees be equipped to assess candidate diversity and inclusion responses?
VCU HR has provided training to HR professionals to equip them to partner and consult with hiring managers, interview panels and search committees on effectively adding this dimension to our candidate assessment process. The questions are designed so that candidates for jobs from entry to executive level can share their perspectives and experiences. This item is a way to ascertain if applicants meet job qualification(s) pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion in the posting. An answer that shows evidence of an understanding of diversity and promotion of equity and inclusion in the workplace can serve as a factor to recommend a candidate for hire.
Sample responses could include, but are not limited to:
- “I define diversity as a group of people with different thoughts, perspectives, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. I promote equity and inclusion by making sure everyone I work with feels included by taking time to ask them how they are and by speaking up when I hear a biased comment.”
- “I define diversity as recognizing different types of people in the same place. I promote equity and inclusion by asking my coworkers how I can help them if I sense they feel uncomfortable in a certain situation.”
- “I define diversity as understanding that every person is unique and recognizing those individual differences. I promote equity and inclusion by accepting people who are different than I am. I try to educate myself about other cultures so I can help educate others.”
VCU’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity is not aimed at producing ideological conformity. The university is also committed to sustaining an environment built on the free exchange of ideas and viewpoints.
VCU’s commitment to inclusion means that VCU strives for a community in which all members are and feel respected, have a sense of belonging, and are able to participate and achieve to their potential, including those with minority, dissenting, or unpopular views.
Therefore, VCU’s evaluation of a candidate’s response to the diversity and inclusion competency assessment will be viewpoint-neutral. VCU does not engage in unlawful discrimination in the context of hiring decisions, to include based on the ideological beliefs or viewpoints of the candidate or a perception of such beliefs or viewpoints. VCU is committed to an environment free from unlawful discrimination and that promotes freedom of inquiry and expression.
The employment interview is a vital component in the hiring process. Interviews also perform an important public relations function – you’re representing VCU! In order to hire the most qualified applicant, the interviewer must understand how to conduct effective interviews. It is important to develop well-worded questions, use follow-up questions to clarify and get more detail, take good notes, and control the pace of the interview.
Preliminary phone interviews are a recommended first step in the interview process. They are an efficient and cost effective way to obtain additional information on candidates and help narrow down a pool (of many candidates who may look good on paper) to a few top candidates. Also, phone interviews will save out-of-town candidates from unnecessary travel to and from interviews. Prepare a list of job-related questions for the phone interviews and use these questions for all applicants. Interview questions should never include anything that is related to hobbies, personal relationships, health, religion, etc. If the job requires heavy lifting, use of special equipment or clothing, safety devices, chemicals or weekend work, fully describe these requirements during the phone interview process.
Phone interview tips:
- Short and direct questions help you assess qualifications.
- Discuss salary/budget if this is a concern or issue.
- Determine if the applicant can work during the times and days needed.
- Stay sharp during the phone interview to determine how well the person listens and responds to your questions and if he/she seems excited about the job.
Good interviewing begins with a pre-planned agenda. It helps the interviewer to know in advance what to ask the applicant; keep the interview process on track and generally provides information needed to make the hiring decision. Because all applicants are treated consistently, it also is important documentation to support non-discrimination in hiring and selection.
- Use the qualities already identified as most important for someone in the position and design questions that can assess whether the candidate possesses these traits.
- The same set of interview questions should be used for all candidates, however, you are permitted to ask follow-up or clarifying questions when necessary.
- Provide each interviewer with an interview packet.
- Give each interviewer the guest user name and password to this position in eJobs to view applications and associated documents online.
Federal and state legislation precludes you from asking certain questions during an interview, and these regulations apply to virtually every aspect of the employment process.
- Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin and religion.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits questions about a person’s age.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment.
Questions relating either directly or indirectly to age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, political affiliation or disability must be avoided. If information is needed about an applicant that potentially infringes on any of the above categories, the question must relate to a bona fide occupational qualification or to a federal or state requirement. If you are not sure if a question violates federal or state law, either don’t ask it or check with your HR Consultant or HR Professional. The following are acceptable interview questions:
A successful interview is essential for uncovering the sort of details that lead to good hiring decisions. They also often provide candidates with their first face-to-face experience with a potential employer. Here are some important tips for ensuring that the interview process is successful.
Pre-interview: As an interviewer, part of your job is to draw out the best in every applicant so you can hire the strongest person for the position. When designing your interview guide:
- Include an explanation of the interview process for each applicant, including the kinds of questions that will be asked. Stress the importance of learning the individual’s strengths .
- Clearly identify the specific needs of the organization .
- Target the interview questions toward the content of the position
- Structure questions so that they focus on a specific aspect of the job, require more than a “yes” or “no” answer, provide sufficient information to make an appropriate candidate selection and do not lead the applicant to the answer.
The interview packet (what to include)
- Interview schedule
- Job announcement
- Position description
- Interview questions and space for interviewer’s notes
- Copy of the interview questions to share with applicants
- Copies of the interviewees’ applications/resumes
Opening the interview
- Put the applicant at ease by beginning in a friendly manner
- Express appreciation for the applicant’s interest in the position
- Mention that you will be taking notes
During the interview: Listen, observe and take notes.
- Listen forfrequent hesitancy
- Does the candidate:
- Avoid certain questions?
- Digress to other topics?
- Demonstrate reluctance (or inability to) answer questions?
- Listen to the applicant’s responses to all questions rather than focusing on one (good or not-so-good) response to get a sense of the person’s overall strengths and weaknesses.
- Observe body language
- Take notes to document the interview and your observations
- Take notes to recall and review the interview when evaluating applicants and to make the hiring decision
- Take notes to defend the accuracy of selection decision