You're in the homestretch now. You've pared your list down--time to schedule interviews, meet, talk, and whittle it down a little more. Here's how:
Give applicants a choice of times and days for the interview and at least a few days advance notice. Schedule 45 minutes to an hour for the interview itself (more or less depending on the position). Tell them who they'll meet with, if they'll need to take a test, and any other pertinent information.
Have a private, comfortable area where you can conduct the interview. Having something to drink handy is always appreciated.
A typical interview is broken into three parts: getting the applicant comfortable by talking a little about the business and the position; interviewing the applicant with your prepared questions; and letting the applicant interview you by asking questions regarding the business, position, salary, and so on.
Take notes, especially if you have a large number of applicants.
Have an outline of questions for the candidate, but be prepared for each interview to take a different direction. Although you should try to ask each candidate the same questions, you'll also want to clarify any confusing (or intriguing) answers. More probing questions will give you a better feel for the candidate's abilities and work ethic.
Even if you're positive you don't want to hire a particular candidate, never cut an interview short. On the flip side, even if you're positive you want to hire an applicant, never offer the job during the interview process.
Don't make any promises (regarding salary, benefits, work conditions, and so on) that you can't keep.
Give the person room. Don't take up too much time trying to sell your business, and don't get nervous if there are a few long pauses or slightly rambling answers. Some people need time to work out what they want to say.
Judging appearance and personality is a matter of opinion. If the job involves people skills, then you'll want to pay more attention to details like body language, eye contact, dress, and so on.
End the interview by giving the candidate a specific time frame in which you'll reach your decision, and collect any necessary samples or reference information. Once the person has left, jot down your impressions while they're still fresh in your mind. What was your impression? What were the person's strengths and weaknesses? Then move on to the final steps of the process.