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The Role of the Line Manager in an Interview

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You play a very important role in the interview process as a line manager. During the initial stages of the interviewing process, your company’s human resources representative will cover questions regarding an applicant’s background and experience. If you want to ensure that you choose the best candidate, you’ll need to prepare in-depth questions that will assess his skill level and fit with your other employees.

Preparation is Critical

Pre-interview preparation might seem like a waste of time if you’re a busy manager, but if you don’t spend time preparing, you might skip a few important questions that can give you real insight into the person you’re hiring. Make a list of the technical skills the applicant must have. You’ll use the list to develop a set of questions that will help you determine if the candidate will be able to function effectively if you hire him. Also consider the type of person who will mesh well with your existing employees. If you’ve built a strong team, you won’t want to hire someone who focuses on personal glory rather than teamwork.

Sell the Job

You’re not the only one making a decision during an interview. If you don’t present the position, or yourself, in a positive light, the candidate might decide to keep looking for a job. During the interview, discuss the tasks the applicant must perform if hired, and explain how the position contributes to the goals of the department. Tell the applicant what types of projects he will work on, the way work is assigned and evaluated, and how much interaction team members have with one another. Provide a realistic view of the job, but sure to include positive features, such as bonuses, flexible working hours or generous vacation time.

What and How Questions

Questions that start with “what” and “how” help you assess the level of skills an applicant possesses. Ask him to describe what he does in his current job. Request that he walk you through a typical day at work. Consult your list of key technical skills and make sure that you’re comfortable with his proficiency level. If you’re not sure that he has the necessary skills to succeed in your department, ask him to describe how he performs a particular task. A request for a step-by-step explanation can expose a candidate who only has a passing familiarity with a process or software package.

Get Personal

A new hire won’t be successful if he can’t get along with your existing team. Ask him what kind of work environment he enjoys, and if he prefers working alone or collaboratively. The Monster website suggests that you ask how quickly the candidate prefers to work and how much feedback and direction he prefers. Pay attention to the way he describes his co-workers and supervisors. If he’s the star of every story, while everyone else is incompetent or stupid, he might not be the best choice if your employees enjoy a supportive and collegial relationship with their co-workers. Ask the applicant to describe a problem he had with a co-worker, client or supervisor. His response to the problem can help you decide if he can resolve personal conflicts in a mature, professional manner.


Working at a humane society allowed Jill Leviticus to combine her business management experience with her love of animals. Leviticus has a journalism degree from Lock Haven University, has written for Nonprofit Management Report, Volunteer Management Report and Healthy Pet, and has worked in the healthcare field.

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