Process Including Interviewing

In this Section:

Plan the selection process

Selection is the process of screening applicants to ensure that the most appropriate candidate is hired.

The first step in the selection process is to review the information (resume, application form) provided by all job applicants to determine which applicants meet the minimum qualifications as stated in the job posting. No further consideration will be given to those who do not meet the minimum qualifications. (In fact, it is a good idea to say in your advertisements that only those candidates who meet the job requirements will be considered.) Those job applicants who meet or exceed the minimum job qualifications are then assessed to decide which ones will be short-listed for a job interview.

The most common methods of selection for all positions include an interview followed by a reference check.

Other selection techniques used during the interview phase are: work samples, written tests, oral presentation, and personality or aptitude tests. After making a conditional offer, additional selection techniques can include: criminal records check, driver's records check. Written consent is required before requesting records checks.

Working with a selection panel

Engaging other people in a selection process can be very helpful. For example, you may want to include a senior staff member, a board member and a potential co-worker. When you invite panel members to participate, let them know how much time it will take and what their role will be.

Their contribution can include:
  • Helping to develop selection criteria
  • Screening resumes
  • Preparing interview questions
  • Participating in interviews
  • Assessing each candidate against the selection criteria
  • Providing input into the final selection

Good Practice:

When working with a selection panel:

  • Give panel members copies of the candidates' resumes and any other information the candidate provided.
  • Prepare for interviews by clarifying which panel member will ask each question.
  • Share all materials that relate to the hiring process (e.g., announcement and job description, selection criteria, template for assessing candidates).

Prepare for the interviews

Prepare a list of questions to ask during the interview. Develop key questions to explore past job performance, covering all essential functions. Also, prepare follow-up questions. Use a variety of approaches to get different kinds of information, tailoring questions to open up a topic for conversation or to confirm information.

Tools and Templates: Selection Process

Good Practice:

When you call the job applicants on the short list to set up an interview, tell each person the salary range for the position, if this information was not part of the job posting. Then ask them if they would like to proceed to an interview given the salary you have to offer. This way, you can avoid interviewing people who later refuse a job offer on the basis of salary.

Conduct testing

Often candidates present themselves very well on paper and at an interview. Testing is a useful validation tool. Testing can occur prior to interviews – which will assist in narrowing the list of potential candidates – or following the interview.

Tools and Templates: ECEC Testing

Conduct the interviews

Choose an appropriate environment for the interviews and ensure that you will not be interrupted. If you are interviewing internal candidates, consider doing it off site.

Make sure you use the same interview format and setting for every candidate, and that interview appointments are the same length.

Welcome the candidate and provide her or him with an overview or "road map" for the interview. Ask your questions, then sit back and listen. Ideally, you should talk no more than 20% of the time. Use follow-up questions so the candidate expand on her or his answers. Comment on what the candidate says to let her or him know you are interested and to encourage discussion.

Conclude the interview by thanking the candidate and explaining the next steps. Ask for permission to contact references.

Good Practice:

All selection or screening methods must be based on the essential tasks and skills for the position (as outlined in the job description) and comply with human rights legislation.

Check the references of your final candidates

Checking references carefully and thoroughly is one way to avoid hiring the wrong person. It may seem easier to accept letters of recommendation that address a candidate's abilities and experience. However, talking to people will allow you to probe issues deeply enough to get a fuller sense of the candidate's values, nature, approach to work and how they interact with others. Telephone interviews are the best way to get more depth about the candidate's character and background.

Reference checks are a last opportunity to verify information the candidate has provided, validate their personal suitability and explore any areas of concern. Talk to references before you make an offer. Let the candidate know you will be doing this. Get permission from the candidate prior to contacting references.  Be sure to find out if there is anyone the candidate would prefer you not speak to – for example, a current boss or current colleagues.

Prepare a list of questions for references. Ask about information on the candidate's resume and about topics discussed during the interview. Ask for insights into the candidate's character, examples of good work they have done and areas that need development. Be careful, questions must be tied to the job. If you keep the conversation casual but professional, you are likely to get more information. Record the reference's responses. Remember that any notes you take when talking to a reference must comply with human rights legislation. Potential candidates may have the right to see what references have said about them so keep accurate notes.

At the beginning of your conversation, explain to references the importance of the position you are hiring for and tell them you appreciate their honesty. At the end, thank them for the time they have spent talking to you and for their help.

What if you are asked to be a reference?  Ensure that consent has been provided to the reference check. If you can recommend the candidate without reservation, the reference check interview should result in a positive conversation. However, if you are not comfortable, answer only those questions with which you are comfortable. If the candidate engaged in inappropriate behaviour (e.g., violence), say that you need to speak to your lawyer prior to providing a reference. If you provide inaccurate information, you may be held liable.

Tools and Templates: Reference Checks

Make your decision and review it

Evaluate final candidates against each other after you have rated them against the criteria to identify the best candidate based on skills, worker characteristics and organizational fit. Review all your notes and write up your decision.


Keep all of your recruitment and selection materials on file for at least two years.

Make sure your decision is non-discriminatory, complies with provincial and federal laws and your hiring policies, and is based on sound judgment.

Discuss the decision with colleagues or others who participated in the interviews and/or other stages of the hiring process.

Make the offer

Call the candidate to make an offer. Seal the deal! Confirm acceptance and then inform all other final candidates by phone of the outcome of the recruitment process. Provide constructive feedback to unsuccessful candidates if requested.

Do the paperwork

Confirm your offer and the candidate's acceptance in writing. A written contract is the ounce of prevention that helps to avoid disputes. It spells out your expectations of employees and the obligations you have to each other. A written contract can take many forms – for example, a letter, proposal or formal agreement. For your convenience, you can prepare a standard contract to use with all employees and tailor it to specific jobs by filling in blank spaces or attaching pages that cover the details.


Ask legal counsel to develop or review your contract letters or employment contracts.

Tools and Templates: Making the Offer