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What Is An Interview Guide?

Written by

Lauren Barber

Reviewed by

VidCruiter Editorial Team

Last Modified

Mar 25, 2024

An interview guide is a document that contains the information and best practices interviewers need to conduct successful hiring interviews. It should cover every part of the interview process, including the questions, rating-specific criteria, and details about the interview workflow. Interview guides are typically developed as part of a structured interview process. 

Learn what an interviewing guide looks like, who uses them, why they’re beneficial, and how to build an interview guide. If you want to see an example, we’ve included an interview guide sample at the end to help get you started.

What are interview guides?

Interview guides are the roadmap to ensure every interview conducted for a particular position is consistent and focused. It goes beyond outlining the interview questions — it should cover rules and policies, evaluation, and much more. Interview guides also document the process and give interviewers something to stay accountable to.

According to Monster, an interview guide saves employers money in the interview process by finding the right candidates faster and easier and improves interview skills by minimizing the amount of decisions that are based on unconscious bias (i.e. gut feelings, first impressions, etc.). 

Typically, they are created by the HR or hiring team and provided to interviewers as part of the interview training process.

An interview guide can also be referred to as an interviewing guide, interviewing guidelines, or an interviewer guide.

What is an interview guide
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Benefits of using an interview guide

Why should you create and use interview guidelines? They’re beneficial for several reasons:

  • Helps prevent interviewers from going off-script
  • Offers applicants an equitable experience
  • Improves interview compliance
  • Reduces unconscious bias through standardization

What are the components of an interview guide?

In a structured interview process, an interview guide is created after the required skills and competencies are identified using a job analysis, the question set is created and evaluated, the rating guide, selection, and assessment criteria are confirmed, and the interview format and workflow are planned. This is because the information from all these components is included in the interview guide.

Every interview guide is unique. The complete interview guide will depend on your organization and position. It can include any or all of the following details:

Interview type (panel, one-on-one, etc.)
Interview format (hybrid, in-person, remote, etc.)
Who is interviewing and what roles they will play
Structured interview guidelines
Organizational rules
Expectations and policies around note-taking and documentation
Job description
Details about accessibility accommodations for any participants
Interview questions and probing or follow-up questions
Interview rubric or rating scorecard
Interview logistics
Checklist of points to cover in the interview introduction and conclusion

This list may seem like a lot, but being precise is beneficial when it comes to interview guides. The more information you provide interviewers in writing, the less ambiguity there will be.

How to make interview guides easier to use

Interviewing software can translate your interview guide document into a digital workflow, streamlining your interview guide and making adoption and execution easier for interviewers. Interview guides for pre-recorded video interviewing also increase structure and consistency in your process.

Make your interview guides easier

What makes a good interview guide?

The best interview guide would provide a framework for interviewers to conduct effective structured interviews. It should serve as a tool to facilitate productive conversations and help interviewers gather valuable data to make merit-based hiring decisions.

Here are some key elements that make a good interview guide.

Provides clear directions and objectives

Everyone knows what they are doing, what their specific role is, and what the desired outcome of the interview is.

Sets interviewers up to offer a positive candidate experience

It should set the tone about how candidates are to be treated and ensure every candidate is comfortable and has an adequate opportunity to showcase themselves.

Makes it easier to conduct structured interviews

An interview guide only works if people use it. If it’s not easy for interviewers to follow, standardization can suffer. This is where digital interview guides can be especially helpful.

Captures legal and ethical considerations

Interviewers should be able to read the guide, know the rules around ethical guidelines, and understand the repercussions if they don’t follow the standardized process.


How technology can enhance your interview guides

Interview guides should continuously improve with every iteration. Interview intelligence can track your digital interview guides and provide insights related to things like component validity to make them more effective and efficient.

How to create an interview guide

Before you start designing an interview guide, revisit the job requisition to ensure everything you’re doing is aligned. Once you’ve created a guide for a position in a certain department, developing an interview guide for other roles in that department will be easier.

Here’s how to make an interview guide.

Pre-interview planning

In order to put this document together, your team has to do some of the groundwork of planning and organizing a structured interview process. Even if you try to create a draft interview guide, you won’t get far without the information from a job analysis.

This involves:

  • Conducting a job analysis
  • Confirming the skills and competencies
  • Writing the job description
  • Selecting, testing, and confirming questions
  • Developing associated rating and evaluation guides
  • Choosing the interview format and interviewers
  • Panel planning
  • Interview workflow

Working collaboratively with an Industrial and Organizational (I/O) psychologist while you conduct the job analysis can help you identify the key competencies required for the position. I/O psychologists study and assess dynamics in the workplace and apply that research to identify solutions to problems that improve the well-being and performance of organizations and their employees (American Psychological Association).

In addition to creating the interview questions themselves, you’ll also need to anticipate and develop probing and follow-up questions and include them in the interview guide so they can be made available to all candidates in the process.

Create an interview guide

Need guidance on developing a structured interview process?

Learn how to conduct a structured interview arrow icon

All these elements ensure candidates undergo an accurate and identical assessment. After finalizing as many items in the above list as possible, move to the next step.

Interview question types

An interview guide can contain all of one type of interview questions (if it’s a targeted selection interview, for example) or a mixture of different question types. It all depends on your organization’s approach to interviewing. As long as the interview questions have been evaluated and are directly related to the job — it doesn’t matter what type of question you include.

Types of interview questions

Assembling the interview guide

Put all the elements in the order they will be used. The interview guide introduction should start with the basic information: details related to the job and the interview logistics itself (who, where, when, what to say before and after, etc.). Then include the questions — in the correct order — and the evaluation details. Finally, it’s the interview checklist and any relevant organizational policies.

Training and distribution

Once the interview guide is complete, before you use it you should have it validated by an I/O psychologist. They will tell you if your interview guide is effective and in line with best practices, and help mitigate the impact of bias in your interviews.

Here’s what I/O psychologists look for in your interview guides.

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Validity and reliability

They can examine whether the questions in your guide effectively measure the qualities or competencies you intend to evaluate. They also provide suggestions on how to improve the reliability of the interview process.

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Diversity, inclusion, and accessibility

They can review the questions and processes to ensure they are fair and unbiased, taking into account diversity, inclusion and accessibility factors.

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Competency alignment

With information from your job analysis, they can confirm if the interview questions align with the identified competencies, ensuring that your interview guide effectively assesses the desired qualifications.

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Fair evaluation and selection criteria

I/O psychologists can collaborate with you to edit your evaluation and selection criteria. They will help you confirm if your weighting or scoring methods are appropriate for assessing candidate responses consistently and fairly.

Once their feedback is incorporated, gather your interviewers for training and interview practice. Distribute the interview guide and allow interviewers to go through and ask follow-up questions. Don’t skip this step! Training interviewers on using the interview guide is equally as important as creating the guide.

Often, interviewers will receive a training guide alongside their interview guide. According to Document 360, having training manuals, like interview guides or training guides, can also, “prevents employees from churning, which means you don’t have to bear the cost of hiring lots of new employees and bringing them up to speed.”

What’s a training guide?

A training guide details how to conduct an interview for any position at a specific organization. It can benefit hiring managers who don’t interview often or haven’t hired before. It may include:

  • Your organization’s hiring process and why they chose this process
  • Step-by-step details on preparing for an interview (develop questions, budget time, review resumes, etc.)
  • The list of skills they need to conduct an interview
  • Guidelines on interviewer behavior
  • Tips on how to provide effective feedback and give a meaningful interview score
  • A breakdown of the post-interview process

Frequently asked questions

What is a behavioral interview guide?

According to Handshake, a behavioral interview is used to “focus on a candidate’s past experiences to assess how they’ve navigated specific situations and utilized skills relevant to the position.” An interview guide can contain any type of interview questions, but behavioral interview guides only include behavioral interview questions.

Examples of behavioral questions include:

  • Can you tell us about a time when you went above and beyond the line of duty?
  • Have you ever misunderstood an important task on the job? Give me an example.
  • Give me an example of an important goal you had to set, and tell me about your progress in reaching that goal.

What is a competency-based interview guide?

A competency interview guide has many of the same standard components as a typical interview guide. The main difference is that the questions are specifically designed to assess a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to the competencies required by the role.

A competency-based interview specifically includes competency-based interview questions. For example, if you’re hiring for a manager position, you might ask:

  • Describe an experience where you led a new initiative that went against the status quo.
  • How do you empower your employees to be creative?
  • Describe a project you managed that involved many interconnected steps where any delays or mistakes would threaten the final outcome.