Q: There is so much written about how applicants should prepare for interviews, but there is very little on how interviewers should prepare for candidates. As a hiring manager, how do I choose which questions to ask? How do I follow up after a clichéd canned answer? What’s a good time allotment? Please share some pointers.

A: You are right, a lot more attention and real estate is given to writing about preparation for applicants than preparation for interviewers. What follows is not scientific, it’s simply what I’ve found helpful when I conduct interviews and what I advise when I present training on the topic.

The questions you ask will depend on the type of position you are hiring for. If you’re hiring for a position where you expect high turnover, (entry level, seasonal, or easily trainable) you won’t need to be as thoughtful and thorough as if you’re hiring someone to head one of your departments. The more important and key the position, the more preparation it requires.

Before the interview, I like to get as much of the “meeting qualifications” out of the way via some type of skill testing, what-if scenarios or phone screening. I like to use the face-to-face interview to get to know personal attributes, temperament, poise, and to ask cultural-fit type of questions.

Regarding following up on clichés, when you select your questions, think about what would make a thoughtful answer. Then when you hear a BS answer you can recognize it and be prepared to go deeper. Usually following up a cliché such as “I get along great with others, I’m a great team member” with “Can you give me an example of that?" is usually effective.

Regarding time: Instead of minutes, I think it’s more helpful to look at the interview as having distinct parts of which you, the interviewer, are in charge of guiding:

The Introduction — Greeting, establishing the context of the job, why we’re here today.

The Main Act — Asking questions, guiding the conversation, listening, answering candidate questions.

The Wrap-up — Letting the candidate know what’s next, timing of process, what to expect next.

These pointers won’t tip the scale on balancing the amount of info on each side, but it will at least answer your questions.

Eva Del Rio is creator of HR Box – tools for small businesses and startups. Send questions to Eva@evadelrio.com