Xref events

How to maximise interview time for better hiring decisions

Karina Guerra
min read
How to maximise interview time to make better hiring decisions

Recruit, retain and remember your people

Simplify your talent journey and make confident people-focused decisions with Xref. Find out why the organisations you trust, choose Xref.

Learn more

Remember top talent with an Exit Survey

Reduce attrition, improve retention, build corporate memory to improve organisational metrics with an Xref Exit Survey.

Find out more

Retain and engage your talent for positive change

Give your people a voice with a tailored Xref Engage survey.

Learn more

Retain your people and make meaningful change

Increase retention and reduce turnover with quick employee feedback from an Xref Pulse Survey.

Learn more

Try Xref Reference for free today

Get started with referencing in Xref today for free. No credit card required.

Get started for free

When you’re looking for a candidate to fill an open role, you want to be confident you will choose the best person for the job. Part of choosing top talent comes down to your interview process. 

Keeping the process short enough to keep candidates engaged whilst also asking the right questions to find essential information are two ways to maximise your interviews. 

When meeting a candidate for the first time - virtually or in person - both yours and their time are valuable, so it pays to be prepared. The time during an interview is limited, and multiple topics must be covered. 

Karina Guerra, Xref’s GM of Customer Intelligence and Marketing, shares her advice on how you can maximise your interview time to result in better hiring decisions.

Break down your interview time

Considering that during a one-hour interview, you spend time meeting and greeting in the first few minutes and leaving time for your candidate to ask questions, there is little time left to go into the detailed answers.

To ensure you cover as much as possible in your interview, break down the time allocated to the interview and give rough time portions to each section. 

For example, in a one-hour interview, spend three minutes on introductions and 10 minutes at the end for questions. This formula leaves you with 47 minutes to dive into the candidate’s skills and experiences.  

It’s not much, but keeping track of time means you're less likely to get sidetracked and miss out on discussing essential points. 

Consider skills assessments

An option is to have multiple interviews and add skill assessments as part of the selection process.

We know that in an interview, a candidate will frame themselves in a positive light to help themselves get the job. 

Skills assessments can give you confidence that your candidate is not only telling the truth about their experience but also allowing them to demonstrate their skill level. 

However, be warned, candidates don’t enjoy long hiring processes or too many steps in the interview process, and they can be a drain on you as well. 

Multiple interviews are not ideal. In times of talent shortage, the selection process has to move as fast as possible. 

Top talent gets hired quickly, so you don't want a candidate halfway through your selection process only for them to reach out and say they’ve accepted another role. The challenge is to do it fast and do it right! 

Look deeper than your candidate’s resume

While exploring a candidate’s resume is helpful in understanding if they would be suitable for your role, an interview can bring out much more if you ask the right questions. 

An interview framed more as a conversation allows you to understand a candidate’s passions, motivations, workplace culture suitability, and more. 

The interview time is an excellent opportunity to clarify circumstances and learnings the candidate has experienced through life circumstances. 

Resumés don’t explain why a person's career has shifted in one way or another. 

Do the pre-work

A candidate can tell if you’ve turned up to an interview and you’re reading their resume for the first time, and it’s not a good look. They’ve prepared for the interview, so you should too. 

Remember that hiring a candidate is a two-way street. They get benefits like growing their skills and getting paid for their work. But in turn, your organisation can grow and thrive with their expertise.

During my time as a hiring manager, I have learned a few lessons that have been useful to maximise the interview time. It always pays off to take the time to do the pre-work before jumping straight into the interview. 

These are some points that you could incorporate to optimise the interviewing experience:

  1. Study the CV of the applicant. Yes, not just read it. Study it! Try to understand how the candidate’s skills and experience can contribute to the position you need to fill. Make a list of questions you would like to clarify based on what you learned from the candidate on their CV or LinkedIn profile. 
  1. Research the candidate’s employer.  Do some research about the companies that have employed your candidate. Interview questions become more interesting when you understand the organisation your candidate worked for previously. The pre-work can save time since the candidates would not have to explain the details of their current employer.
  1. Make your list of critical questions. Hiring decisions are crucial for the performance of the team, therefore, it’s relevant to ask those key questions during the interview. Sometimes, time constraints or how the conversation flows do not allow hiring managers to cover key questions. Having a list of those crucial questions is essential to ensure those points are covered. Also, consider the job candidates are applying for. Only some questions will be relevant for some roles. Tailoring your questions to the position can help give better outcomes. 
  1. Make an interview plan. Different roles require different strengths or skills. Make a suitable plan for the job that includes the steps to follow during the interview. If you are interviewing with another team member, plan who is taking the lead and identify key questions that should be asked or points that you would like to explore in more detail. 

Consider when and how you share relevant information about the role so the candidate understands the role well. This is sometimes done as part of the ‘screening interview’ or short phone interview that your talent acquisition specialist conducts before recommending a candidate to the hiring manager. 

four icons on a green background detailing tips for optimising the interview process

Scheduling and attending the interview

When scheduling your interview, select a day of the week and time of day that is mutually beneficial for the candidate and anyone else taking part from your organisation. 

If conducting in-person interviews, give yourself extra time to secure a meeting room and set yourself up. Offer the candidate water, tea or coffee - they’re likely to be nervous, so small gestures like this can help put them at ease.

Here are some tips that have worked for me to make the most of the interview time. These points are suitable for different types of interviews, including video interviewing.

  1. Include another team member in the interview. The candidate will work with a team, so including another team member in the interview is an excellent opportunity for the hiring manager to observe how the candidate responds to questions asked by a trusted colleague. Candidates also enjoy meeting team members and obtaining more insights from a person who is part of that team.
  1. Give time for questions. As we discussed earlier, making time for the candidate to ask questions is crucial. This is as important as the time for managers to enquire about experience and skills. A job is a two-way relationship; candidates need to understand the role, company culture and expectations to decide if the position and organisation are a good fit. 
  1. Use reference checks for clarification. Reference checks are a great way to get an opinion from someone who knows the candidate's work ethic and also to provide a comprehensive picture of the candidate’s skills and experience discussed during the interview. Reference and background checks are great tools to assist managers in their hiring decisions.


An interview is an opportunity to find great talent and make a great impression of the organisation you represent. Remember that as the interviewer, you need to follow good etiquette and basic principles such as punctuality and maintaining eye contact.

The interview process for managers can be very time-consuming, and often managers need to find time for multiple interview slots. You will rarely find the perfect candidate with just one interview. 

The pressure of moving fast with hiring decisions is still a challenge. For optimal results, it’s ideal to follow a format that ensures crucial questions are asked. A clearly defined interview method provides consistency to the process and optimises the interview time to delve into relevant points for smart, confident hiring decisions.

With these tips, you should be able to get your job offers out faster and reduce your time to hire. 

Recent articles

View all