Narrowing down a group of job candidates usually starts with a set of initial interviews. These may be short and sweet, taking just enough time to get a feel for each potential employee. But when the list of serious candidates has been identified, comprehensive interviews paint a clearer picture of who might be the right fit for the position.

Take Your Time

A comprehensive interview takes time and should be performed without interruption. It also should include interviews by several staff members. Assemble the interview team by hand-picking representatives from human resources and other appropriate departments. Invite some veteran employees to spend time with the prospects and offer feedback. When scheduling the interview with the candidate, advise him how long you think the entire process will take so he can block out the time needed. Prepare a schedule for all interviewers so everyone is aware of the timeline and can stay on track.


A comprehensive interview is a time to gather information about the candidate's relevant experience. Questions should be historical as opposed to hypothetical. In other words, rather than asking the candidate how he might handle a situation, ask for concrete examples from her prior employment.

Though evaluating past experience is key, questions about the future are just as important. Ask the candidate what she envisions for her next position, how she can apply her talents and experience, what her long range goals are and how she sees herself as a fit for the open position.


A candidate with relevant experience, top-notch academics and all the right answers may still not be the right person for the job. A comprehensive interview should include questions that delve into the personality traits of the candidate. It also should be a time to observe his demeanor. Create a comfortable atmosphere that lets defenses come down and encourages engaging conversation. Start the interview with light conversation to build rapport. This will set the tone for the tougher questions to come later in the interview.


Though a comprehensive interview is based on a large quantity of time, it needs to be focused on quality. Prepare questions, schedule the right people and gather as much information as possible.

After assembling the interview team, state the expectations for the interview. Don't assume every staff member is versed in the art of interviewing. Provide sample questions, but plan a strategy so questions are not duplicated.

Avoid intimidating panel interviews.

Don't be afraid to delve deep when discussing relevant experience in prior jobs. Ask questions that will turn a few stones and keep digging gently to bring out as much information as possible.