Identifying the best interview methods is tricky for even the best talent acquisition teams. Sometimes preferred interview styles and the methods that result in the best hires aren’t aligned. It’s helpful to know ahead of time how each interview method can benefit your hiring process.
The type of interview should be entirely dependent on the anticipated outcome you're trying to achieve. Since there are all kinds of interview methods, types of interviews, and ways to conduct the interview process within those categories, let's flesh out how they work.
By the time you’re done, you’ll be armed with ways to personalize each interview method to fit your hiring process.
4 Types of Interviews
The type of interview you choose to use in your hiring process is a good place to start because this is going to create the itinerary. Here are four common job interview categories.
1. Behavioral Interview
Behavioral interview questions provide a dual purpose. They address how a potential candidate handles real-life scenarios while also evaluating the candidate's behavior and thought process.
How It Works
In the job interview, ask candidates to provide their decision-making process within an example of a real-life workplace scenario. The candidate should respond using the STAR method by focusing on the situation, task, action, and result.
If they miss one aspect you can coach them along by asking follow-up clarifying questions and using empathetic feedback statements.
Keep an eye on their body language (posture, hands, eye contact) as it can offer even more insight into their answers.
What It Reveals
Behavioral interview questions can help to reveal problem-solving ability, professional communication ability, initiative, and other soft skills. It will also help you understand how to best motivate them when/if the time comes for them to join the team.
2. Case Interview
A case interview is when job candidates are provided with a hypothetical scenario to resolve in real-time. This is a very common addition to traditional interview processes.
How It Works
Candidates are given a complex issue to solve during the interview process. It may be a one-on-one or group interview. An effective interview of this sort will generate some discussion between candidates and hiring managers or recruiters.
What It Reveals
This type of interview narrows in on analytical skills as well as soft skills. It can also demonstrate how the job candidate performs under pressure. In group interview settings it can show how several people navigate the resolution and could indicate whether they work well in a team dynamic.
3. Puzzle Interview
This is a big trend thanks to tech giants like Google. This type of interview involves a seemingly arbitrary interview question like, “Write a software program to solve a Rubik's cube in any coding language.” After the question is posed the response is timed. They are most often used for coders or tech-heavy roles.
How It Works
Ask candidates questions that reveal more in the way that they interpret the question than the answer being right or wrong.
What It Reveals
This interview type reveals problem-solving ability and lateral thinking skills. You can understand the strategic approach to complex problems that may arise in the day-to-day operations.
4. Apprentice Interview
This is when job applicants are asked to perform a job-related task with minimal guidance.
How It Works
Apprentice interviews are often used for more technical roles and can involve 1-2 days of trial on-the-job. It can also help to get a preview of how the candidate fits within the company culture and manages a typical day of work.
What It Reveals
It reveals a candidate's technical know-how and hard skills better than regular questions and answers around the task. It will also show what kind of research methods they've put into play to prepare for the interview.
Pick the Interviews Methods That Work
Now that we've identified the types of interview formats, it's time to go into greater detail about interview methods you can apply to them.
When interviews happen in person it's usually in the office. This is an ideal time to see if the candidate fits the company culture and offers a slightly more intimate interview experience than a video interview or phone interview.
In special cases, face-to-face interviews may happen over coffee in an offsite location. This may be a more informal type of meeting that eventually leads to a face-to-face interview in-office.
- Prepare a scoring system in advance so that it's easy to compare candidates
- Pay attention to body language and practice active listening
- Always leave time for candidate questions at the end, this allows you to understand their priorities
Group or Panel Interviews
Panel interviews can help reach a consensus more efficiently. They increase diversity and reduce bias when panels themselves are diverse. It's a helpful way to assess whether there's a culture fit in a relatively low-risk manner.
- Establish a leader who moderates the interview to keep order and time
- Make time to debrief between each interview
- Build a panel of interviewers that is reflective of your company culture
- Use Prelude to make the coordination of multiple calendars easy and efficient
Video interviews have become increasingly more common as a screening interview practice. It saves time and expands the talent pool into areas outside your immediate location.
Software like Skype or Google Meet is free to use. It adds another layer to the phone interview because you have access to some of the visual cues you would get in a face-to-face interview in a much more convenient format.
- It can be easier to get distracted with video interviews, make sure to banish other screens and notifications from the interview space
- Video interviews tend to be more efficient but even if you are tempted to wrap up the interview early, try to make the most of the time that the candidate has blocked off as a courtesy
- Be mindful of timezones with applicants that are in a different part of the world when scheduling the interview
- If it's too difficult to coordinate because a candidate is currently employed, consider sending questions ahead of time and request a video recording of them answering the questions
Structured Interviews vs. Unstructured Interviews
It's impossible to write an article about interview methods without covering the difference between structured interviews and unstructured interviews. I'm a pretty big fan of structured interviews. Keep reading to find out why!
Structured interview questions provide a standardized format that helps to remain consistent and reduce bias in the hiring process.
- Use repeatable questions in the same order for every candidate
- Closely align with the job description
- Allow the hiring manager or recruiter to provide a score to each candidate
- Create scheduling predictability with their repetitive nature
Unstructured interviews are perhaps more casual. They allow for a more improvised type of conversation that may build rapport but simultaneously spark bias.
Even if this interview method has been perceived by hiring managers in the past as valuable in getting to know candidates, they’ve been proven as the worst predictors of job skills. Many hiring managers may think they can cut through the noise and go with their gut to pick out qualified candidates, but we now know that this isn’t true and that structured interviews are more objective.
- Are unpredictable and time-consuming
- Provide a more fluid and natural candidate experience
- Make it more challenging to interpret the data precisely
Which Interview Methods Are Right for My Next Hire?
Start by asking yourself some questions about what your main stumbling block has been with hiring. Then, consider what type of intel upfront during the hiring process would help make your team stronger. This will help you design a better hiring process.
If you're short on time, you may opt for a structured video call. If you can't decide between two final candidates, it might make more sense to line up a panel interview to reach a consensus.
For a winning strategy for any kind of hire, match adaptability with in-depth knowledge of interview methods and types of interviews.