Have a positive, objective job interview

Have you ever looked for advice on how to conduct a good job interview? There are many lists, with tips such as 'prepare well' and 'put the candidate at ease'. Although these are important preconditions, asking the right questions can help you find the information you seek. It also helps to be sufficiently aware of your own shortcomings. Below is an important point for your attention, and two specific methods that will help you have job interviews in a positive and objective manner. 

Crucial to a positive job interview is the use of inclusive language. How far has your organisation got? Answer the following questions and find out how you can generate a lot of profit with small effort.  

  • Does your organisation use jargon? Do you use language with many organisation-specific terms and/or abbreviations? Draw up a list and avoid these terms during a job interview. Also apply this list during the onboarding of new employees.  
  • Involve your colleagues in the sector. Make a call on social media for as many sector-specific words and expressions as possible, to add to the list.
  • Also consider non-verbal signals. Does your organisation or sector have an (unspoken) dress code? Observe for a few days and clarify for yourself and your colleagues what the dress code rules are. How do they affect interpersonal communication and mutual perceptions?

Use inclusive language in job interviews 

In the building block Focus on inclusive job advertisements you can read about the importance of inclusive language in your external communication. It is also important to pay attention to this during job interviews. 5 tips:

  • Be aware of differences in word association. For example, not everyone understands the word 'initiative' in the same way. A Dutch-speaking person thinks of an action, a process, when they hear 'initiative'. A French-speaking person will rather use the word 'initiative' in the sense of an idea, a concept.
  • Avoid exclusive language: e.g. '(your) community', 'migrant issue', 'disability', etc. 
  • Check how the candidate likes to be addressed: for example, is there a preference for certain pronouns? 
  • Avoid the use of abbreviations, e.g. of the name of a particular department or team, and also avoid jargon to a specific discipline, but not broadly understood outside that discipline.
  • Pay attention to your own, non-verbal expression.
  • Be aware of the impact of certain non-verbal signals such as eye contact, mirroring, the clothes the candidate wears. For example, as a recruiter, how do you experience the candidate making or not making eye contact? How do you interpret the candidate's body posture?

Use a structured interview

In addition to inquiring about previous experience and acquired competences, you will often ask a series of other questions during a job interview. These have to do, for example, with expectations in terms of operating rhythm, willingness to travel and a candidate’s knowledge of the sector in which he or she will be working. The problem is that these questions are often off the cuff. Job interviews are too often unstructured and conducted intuitively. A more structured interview limits the influence of preconceptions and bias.

Often, irrelevant matters such as hobbies weigh into the decision of whether to hire the candidate. Research also shows that candidates with a migration background are often asked questions in a job interview about their migrant background, and less about their competences.

What you can and cannot ask

The questions a recruiter is allowed to ask a job applicant are legally defined. Do you know the legal rules? Unia's website eDiv offers free online learning modules (in Dutch or French). The Law module explains anti-discrimination legislation step by step. Videos, exercises and interactive explanations of the answers will guide you through this topic.


The aim is to obtain the same information from all candidates, as far as possible. Therehore, structure the job interview

  • List, in advance, the information required.
  • Provide a logical structure for the meeting.
  • Distribute the questions to the members of the selection committee.

This can be done in various ways:

  • Use a simple checklist at topic level, and coordinate the distribution of topics with the other recruiters.
  • Use a detailed question and answer form, in which you can also assign scores to certain answers later. 

What are the advantages of structured interviewing?

  • Better informed choices and feedback
  • A measurable shift in reducing the importance of the 'click' you have with someone
  • Increased awareness of diversity in the organisation
  • Candidates feel that they are taken seriously

Choose the right interviewers

Inclusive selection requires a diverse selection committee. This reduces the chance of 'blind spots'. Unconscious bias playing a role in the recruitment and selection process and decreases the chance of selecting the best person for the job.

Consider the following aspects, among others, when composing the committee:

  • Visible diversity: persons of colour/with a migrant background; age distribution with a difference of at least 10 years between the youngest and the oldest; gender (minimum 30/70 ratio of gender diversity).
  • Invisible diversity: specialisation, position and seniority, variation in years of work experience.

Ensure open communication and an open atmosphere within the committee. Check that the members of the selection committee:

  • do not have a favourite candidate;
  • are open to the suggestions and input of other members of the selection committee and/or the hr partner;
  • realise that everyone is unconsciously biased and communicate about it openly.
  •   Challenges
  •   Use inclusive language
  •   Use a structered interview
  •   Choose the right interviewers