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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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The interview takes place with finalists that have been approved by the hiring authority (Dean/AUD), Equal Opportunity & Title IX Office, and Human Resources. The interview, if conducted appropriately, can be an extremely effective selection tool.

The interview must be free of bias and sensitive to prospective employees. These caveats are not intended to restrict the university's ability to employ an individual qualified to do the job. They are intended to ensure that non-discriminatory criteria are used and that the criteria relate to successful job performance.

All members of the search committee should participate in the interview. In addition, other people outside of the search committee are allowed to participate as needed. Some examples include: other department members, open public forums, administrators, etc. In addition, students should have an opportunity to meet a candidate in either an interview setting or to attend a presentation made by a candidate. The search committee should require anyone who has participated in the interview to complete evaluation forms and to share their views about finalists.

Preparation for the Interview

  1. Review the job description and qualifications criteria. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of the job being filled and the specific qualifications criteria that were advertised to prospective applicants.

  2. The search committee should prepare a list of questions to be asked of interviewees. Questions should be formulated to elicit ideas and information from the candidate that help assess those attributes required for a new employee to be successful in the position being filled. Remember that the same questions must be asked of all candidates being interviewed for the job. The Search Committee should agree in advance as to how responses will be evaluated, e.g., what constitutes a good response versus a bad response. The questions should be from the basis of the Interview Screening Form to be used for all candidates (i.e., What weaknesses do you have in regard to this position, and how would you overcome those weaknesses?). Sample below:

    Questions and Ranked Anticipated Answers

    Question1 point3 points5 pointsScore
    You are approached by an irate student. What do you do? Notes: Ignore the student and hope s/he goes away.Respond to the student and call someone else who might be able to help.Try to calm the student. Ask questions; insure the student gets the help s/he needs.
    Describe your experience working with diverse audiences and how you worked to respond to their differing needs. Notes: Have not worked with diverse groups.I have some experience with diverse audiences and have tried to be sensitive to differences. I worked hard to learn about each individual's needs and responded to those needs directly.
  3. Review the interviewee's resume and application. Learn the correct pronunciation of the interviewee's name. Familiarize yourself with the candidate's background and thereby avoid duplication during the interview of what already is a matter of written record.
  4. Search committee members should develop a schedule for "hosting" the candidate while on campus for interview. This should include both a city and campus tour. This provides important information for the candidate who is deciding whether this is a university and community in which he/she wishes to work and live.
  5. Questions to address diversity issues.

    Sample Interview Questions

    • Please describe your understanding of diversity and your experience working with diverse populations.
    • Many of our colleagues are multi-generational, and racially and ethnically diverse. How would you address these complexities in your day to day work?
    • In what ways has your commitment to diversity been demonstrated in your work experience?
    • How have you supported strenghtening diversity in your prior roles, and how would you proceed in our organization? Please provide examples that would speak to your commitment to fostering gender, racial, or ethnic equity and diversity.
    • Please address your professional and personal experiences working with diverse populations or cultures.
    • How have you demonstrated your commitment to affirmative action in staffing and operations?
    • In what ways has your commitment to diversity been demonstrated in your work experience?

Interviewing People of Color, Women, and Persons with Disabilities

  1. Ask the same questions and apply the same standards to all candidates; treat all applicants in the same way. You may not mean to discriminate against women, people of color and people with disabilities through differential treatment, but such treatment can be used, and has been used, in discriminatory ways.

  2. Treat all candidates with fairness, courtesy, and consistency.

  3. Be consistent in addressing men and women candidates. For example, do not use a woman's first name and not a man's. If using first names, do so for all candidates; if using titles, do so for all.

  4. Avoid stereotypical prejudices about candidates who are female, people of color and/or people with disabilities. Avoid assumptions about a woman's competence because she speaks softly. Avoid assumptions about a woman's capability to successfully handle a job because she dresses in what you consider a too-feminine or non-feminine manner, or a man who has long hair or pierced ears. Avoid assumptions about a person of color's competence because he/she is a person of color. Avoid assumptions about a person's capability to do a job because she/he appears to have a disability.

  5. Don't boast or give an instant replay of every instance in which you've employed or been supportive of a person of color, woman, or a person with a disability.

  6. In setting up the interview schedule, tell the candidate who they will be meeting and ask if there are other individuals or groups they would like to meet. If a candidate asks to meet people of color, women, or people with disabilities and your department or administrative unit does not have any, make arrangements for her/him to meet someone from another unit on campus.

The Interview

  1. Establish rapport with the candidate. Extend a cordial greeting and allow the candidate a few moments to relax prior to starting the formal interview.

  2. Behave toward a candidate in a relaxed, yet businesslike, way. Do not patronize or make demeaning statements during the interview.

  3. Begin the interview by giving a suitable introduction of the candidate. Use this time, as well, to inform the candidate of the affiliation of the group with whom he/she is now meeting, i.e., personnel committee of an academic unit, professional colleagues from other administrative units on the campus, etc. It also would be advisable at this time to establish the time limits of the interview.

  4. Follow the structured interview plan with all finalists and provide evaluation forms to all interviewers. Ask only questions that are relevant to the job. Ask the same questions and apply the same standards to all candidates. Inquiries must avoid eliciting information as to race, color, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, marital status, number of children, child care arrangements, birth control measures, or arrest and court record (if not substantially related to functions and responsibilities of the particular job in question). You can and should ask reasonable followup questions of candidates if they did not completely answer the question or the answer given was not clear.

  5. The interviewers, ideally, should talk no more than 25 percent of the time (or even less); the interviewers' task is to listen and to evaluate. Avoid questions that elicit only a "yes" or "no" answer. By usage of the prepared questions, it should be possible to move the interview along at a reasonable pace by encouraging the candidate to express ideas and provide information about things important to the job.

  6. Do not be apprehensive of silences. The candidate may be formulating additional thoughts in thoroughly explaining her/his ideas about a job. If an interviewer rushes in to fill a silence, an opportunity may be lost to learn significant information.

  7. It is advisable to keep notes during an interview; note taking helps insure accuracy. Explain to the candidate ahead of time that the interviewers will be taking notes and why.

  8. The selection process is a two-way process. It is important to remember that during the interview process the candidate is forming an opinion of whether this is a university where she/he wishes to work. Describe the job and the university to the candidate in a straightforward fashion. Be honest in providing information about the job, department, university, community, promotion and tenure requirements, etc. The candidate must have this information to make a suitable decision if offered the job. Interviews that are carefully planned, that begin on time, that allow the candidates to present themselves in the best possible light, and that elicit the necessary job-related information are major elements in hiring outstanding candidates.

  9. Allow adequate time at the end of the interview for the candidate to address questions to the interviewers. This is the candidate's opportunity to elicit information that may be useful for him/her to make a suitable decision if offered the job and, also, to make a point she/he did not have an opportunity to make earlier in the interview.

  10. Close the interview by thanking the candidate and outlining the anticipated timetable in bringing the employment process to an end.

Questions That May or May Not Be Asked of a Candidate


  1. Do not ask questions about race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, ancestry or marital and family status.

  2. Do not ask if the candidate has a disability. You may only tell all finalists of their right to request accommodations of disabilities during the interview process.

  3. If the candidate has a disability that is obvious to the interviewers, do not inquire how the individual became disabled or the prognosis.

  4. Do not ask whether the candidate has ever been treated for mental disability.

  5. Do not ask about problems the candidate has had because of a disability.

  6. Do not ask whether the candidate has any disabilities or impairments that may affect performance in the position.

  7. Do not ask of what country the candidate is a citizen.

  8. Do not ask whether the candidate is married, single, divorced, engaged, or solicit information regarding number and age of children, information on child-care arrangements, pregnancy, etc.

  9. Do not ask a candidate's religious denomination or affiliation.

  10. Do not ask candidates what their spouses do, how much they earn, whether the spouse objects to the applicant working and/or traveling with members of the opposite sex.

  11. Do not ask any questions related to whether a candidate has family/children.

  12. Do not ask questions designed to elicit the candidate's age.

  13. Do not ask if a candidate has filed or has threatened to file discrimination charges.


  1. You may describe the essential functions of the job and ask the candidate if she/he can perform those functions with or without an accommodation. If this question is asked, it must be asked of all candidates.

  2. You may ask questions relating to any of the qualifications the University has for the position, including education, experience, licenses, training, and other minimum qualification standards set prior to beginning the search.

  3. You may ask if the candidate can legally work in the United States. If this question is asked, it must be asked of all candidates. It is only at the time of the I-9 verification form that the employer can check their legal status. Human Resources does the I-9 verification but only after the person accepts the offer and comes to campus. If an individual does self-identify and say s/he is on a non-immigrant visa, we can assist them with the paperwork by referring them to Human Resources.

  4. You may ask whether the candidate can meet specified work schedules or meet specified work activities or commitments. If this question is asked, it must be asked of all candidates.

  5. You may advise a candidate of normal hours and days of work required by the job. If this topic is raised, it must be raised with all candidates.

  6. You may ask candidates why they are interested in the position.

  7. You may ask candidates what, if any, reservations they have about accepting the position, if offered.

  8. You should talk about the position responsibilities, the university and its programs, career and growth potential, opportunities for advancement, and facilities available.

  9. You can ask other general questions related to former positions, relationships, goals, etc. (see "General Types of Questions")

  10. Ask questions that are behavioral in nature as past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. Examples:

    1. Tell me about a time when you were in charge of leading a group of employees working on a specific problem. How did you get the team to work together? What was the result? Would you do anything different in the future? (see "Behavioral Types of Questions")

    2. Tell me about a situation where you did not agree with a colleague on how to best address a particular situation? How did you resolve the disagreement? Would you do anything different next time? (see "Situational Types of Questions")