Modern recruitment has to be agile enough to allow for many different methods of interview. Ultimately there are many things that you want to cover in the interview process, but at the heart of it all is that both the company and the candidate must establish if they’re a good fit. The best way to do that is to compile a list of job fit interview questions for the first round of interviews.
Also, interviews must be well planned before they happen and candidates must be told what to expect beforehand. The key criteria for successful interviews are that the methods of interview are fair and transparent. There are currently some whacky techniques of interview doing the rounds in articles online (and probably in interview rooms too), but I strongly caution you against them.
Remember that an interview is an unnatural environment where the balance of power favors the interviewer. I’ve interviewed thousands of candidates, and there’s one thing they all have in common, irrespective: they’re all excited and a bit nervous as well. Candidates who aren’t, are usually trying to con their way through the door.
Consider your candidates’ experience. Genuine candidates (that’s about 98% of applicants), don’t deserve weird questions, insults, or to be set up. You can’t test their mental abilities, personality, resilience or see how they handle pressure in an interview. The reality is you’re disrespecting them, making them feel uncomfortable and making yourself look a bad employer. Always remember that behind every CV is a real person.
Understand candidates better by being creative
Apart from the fact that you could be accused of bias or using unfair interview processes, you could be transgressing labor laws depending on where you’re located. Follow standard methods of interview, but be creative and adapt them to your company and the team that the successful candidate will be working with.
What do you want to establish throughout the interview process? In order of importance, you want to know if the candidate:
- Is being honest on their CV
- Has the right skills and experience
- Is a good cultural fit
- Has the personality traits essential for the job
You can add as many steps as you need to find out what you want to know, but these four steps are essential in all methods of interview.
Should all methods of interview be structured along the same lines?
Yes and no! Your company must have a hiring system that’s shared across departments and adhered to ensure fairness and transparency, but there must be room for maneuver. Apart from the fact that vacancy criteria differ, so too do the individuals that make up teams and management. That calls for different types of interview methods.
Also, apart from the recruiters in your company, hiring teams will usually be made up of diverse personalities for each vacancy. As a recruiter, you need to consider this and adapt methods of interview to accommodate individual teams. For example, when hiring for finance or tech, team members could be very focused on attention to detail, and candidates probably expect that. On the other hand, sales, marketing, and design teams will be more focused on creativity and personality.
This consideration raises the matter of using questionnaires as part of the methods of interview: yes or no?
Advantages and disadvantages of questionnaires
Any type of templates and questionnaires are fine throughout the recruitment process as long as they’re reviewed and approved by all members of the hiring team before interviews begin. Also, tailor questionnaires to include the best interview questions before distribution to suit the current circumstances.
Advantages of questionnaires in your hiring process include:
- Uniformity across all candidates
- Easy comparison of answers
- Easy elimination based on responses
- Easy compilation of a short list
Disadvantages of questionnaires in your hiring process include:
- Uniformity eliminates creativity
- Vital elements can go unnoticed
- Discourages probing further
- Inadvertent elimination of suitable candidates
Set questionnaires are great as methods of interview for roles where you employ high volumes of people with the same skills and who do the same job like call center, sales and warehouse staff. For more specialist roles, rather use set questionnaires as a pre-screening tool for applicants, or as a screening tool for candidates in your talent pool before you set up interviews.
That doesn’t mean however that you can’t have a list of preferred questions to keep at hand during the interview process. Just don’t let you list of questions prevent you from deviating with impromptu probing questions where necessary. Also, don’t proceed with unasked questions if the candidate has already given insight when answering another question.
6 different types of interviews
- The application
- Phone or video interview screening
- Face to face interview
- Panel interview
- Skills assessment interview
- Behavioural interview
1. The application
If you’re using a questionnaire as part of your application process, you are already interviewing applicants. Make sure that you choose your pre-screening questions carefully and keep them very specific to the skills and experience requirements.
Pre-screening questionnaires are a great time saver and help to eliminate under skilled applicants and time-wasters. The downside is that you could miss out on quality applicants who either misunderstand the questions or could easily be upskilled to meet the minimum criteria.
Best used for: positions that have non-negotiable skills or experience criteria.
2. Phone or video screening interview
This is one of the essential interview methods to save you and the candidate time. Draw up a list of critical questions to screen candidates and also make a list of your preferred responses. It’s always a good idea to send the candidates the list of questions before the interview so that they have time to prepare.
Phone and video screening also gives you some insight into the candidate’s attitude and personality. If language is essential, you’ll quickly pick up their proficiency, and if the role requires friendly communication, you can ascertain that too.
If you are hiring for a remote vacancy, the entire interview process can be done by phone, video or both.
Best used for: all positions. If it’s a very specialized or senior role, it’s best that the hiring manager make the call.
3. Face to face interview
This has been a staple interview method since the first person back in time employed someone else. A face to face interview can take place between the candidate and a recruiter, or the hiring manager can also be present.
The interview format can be informal, semi-formal or informal, but be sure to let the candidate know what to expect upfront. Be very specific about the dress code because many companies today have dropped the suit-and-tie / stockings-and-heels code. If your company prefers formal dress, without a heads-up, a candidate could arrive in jeans and feel really uncomfortable.
Best used for: all positions because it allows the interviewer and the candidate to get a feel for one another. Body language and energy that’s absent in phone and video interviews can also be telling.
4. Panel interview
Panel interviews are usually reserved for shortlisted candidates only and can have the entire hiring team present, or only some team members. Specialist and technical roles in particular call for skilled team members to establish a candidate’s depth of experience at this stage.
Again, tell candidates what to expect. It can be very intimidating to walk into a room full of people when you were expecting one or two! As a recruiter, it’s your job to introduce each panel member and their position to the candidate. Also, explain to the candidate that panel members will be asking questions and making notes, so there may be a few minutes of silence here and there. Nervous people often feel a need to fill silences and usually end up babbling. Put the candidate at ease.
Best used for: any position to ensure fairness and transparency. Also allows for probing questions and diverse opinions.
5. Skills assessment interview
This is one of the more uncommon methods of interview, but it definitely has its place in the hiring process. A skills assessment interview differs from talent assessments which usually are in the form of questions, or standard questionnaires.
You will want to conduct a skills assessment interview on candidates who’ve made the shortlist after the panel interview has taken place. You can’t do this type of interview for all positions. It’s for technical, specialist or creative roles only. Assessments can be done online or in person, but they would be specially created to test the candidate’s abilities.
Developers and finance candidates can be assessed online, usually with a timed and/or simulated assessment. Mechanical, technical or creative candidates will be called in for an evaluation. For example, if you own a salon, you would ask candidates to style someone’s hair, do a facial or a treatment. Mechanical or technical candidates will be called into a workbench situation to solve a particular problem.
Best used for: specialized skills. This is also an excellent way to assess a candidate’s depth of expertise as well as how they work under pressure.
6. Behavioral interview
You can write the behavioral interview anywhere into your methods of interview, from screening, panel to the final interview. How you use behavioral questions depends on the requirements of the job. Behavioral questioning is known as the “star” method (situation, task, action, result).
Choose your questions carefully to get the best results. What you’re doing is placing the candidate in a real or hypothetical situation where they’re faced with a specific challenge (the situation). They must detail their role (task) in the situation, how they would or did handle it (action), and give you the final outcome (result).
Personally, I prefer to ask real work situation questions rather than hypothetical ones because there’s no way of proving what the candidate says. In real situation work situations, you can mostly confirm what the candidate told you when you take a past employment reference.
Here are some STAR method examples:
- Tell me about a time when a customer was in the wrong but insisted on a refund; how did it come about and how did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time when your team was going over deadline, and the team lead was delaying progress; what was your role in resolving the problem?
- Tell me about a time when you couldn’t balance the payroll in time for the flash reports deadline; what did you do?
Best used for: any position if you want to know how the candidate will react under pressure. It can also tell you if things like if a candidate has leadership potential, prioritizes their job responsibilities or will lie under pressure.
Asking the right questions is vital for successful hiring
Although methods of interview can (and must) differ depending on the vacancy requirements, asking the right questions is the only way to ensure that you hire the best candidates.Never shy away from asking tough interview questions because that’s the only way of getting the information you want. Select your interview questions as soon as you’ve compiled your job description when the hiring team is still in the planning stage. Also, agree on the type of answers you want to hear.