Choosing an interview style for your recruitment

Beyond your branding or reputation, one of the biggest influences on your ability to find great talent for your company is how you go about finding them. In other words, how you conduct your interviews is vital to finding the right fit.

Below are some of the most common ways to break down the question of how to conduct an interview, but remember that no job interview style fits all, and that goes for every different role in your company. This seems obvious, but too often those who are recruiting for roles will try to fit the square peg of a set interview style into the round hole that is a specific job type that does not suit that process. For instance, you may have a specific interview style you adopt for when you are trying to find a project manager which would be the wrong interview style for when you are trying to find a Javascript developer or an office manager. Each job requires a different approach.

The structured vs. unstructured approach

A good first step in deciding on a job interview style to follow is to choose between a structured or unstructured approach to your interview. This essentially means deciding between following a specific routine for all of your interviews or letting interviews take their own course.

There are pros and cons to either option. A set structure will allow you to more easily analyse different candidates according to specific criteria and make sure that each candidate is provided an equal opportunity to display their qualities and experience, without any risk of your or them becoming distracted within a more relaxed and unstructured system. On the other hand, an unstructured approach may be less intimidating for candidates and if done correctly (i.e. you maintain an awareness of the sorts of information you want to glean from each candidate), an unstructured approach can still demonstrate a candidate’s qualities to you.

Within this decision, you can also choose between having a panel (more than one) of interviewers or just to have a single or  a series of one-on-one interviews. Again, either choice has its pros and cons. A panel allows those in your company to ask questions specific to their section of the business, allows you to get a good feeling for whether those across the company believe in a candidate and also allows you to potentially quicken the recruitment process compared to running a series of one-on-one interviews. The main advantage of a one-on-one interview is that you will most likely get to know a candidate in more depth, while the process may be less intimidating for various personality types.

The STAR method

Within a structured or unstructured interview scenario, you can still choose to adopt a particular method to finding out about your candidate. The most common is behavioural questioning and situational questioning. The STAR method (Situation-Task-Approach-Result) allows a candidate to break down their answers to demonstrate their abilities, without getting lost in specific descriptions. You may ask them to describe a time in which they were challenged by a project and how they approached it. With this, they will need to describe what the situation was (what kind of job), the task (what the challenge was), what their approach was and what the result of this was.

A situational approach may be more specific to your organisation, wherein you ask a candidate how they would approach a task or challenge within your business. This can be a good way to allow your candidate to demonstrate their understanding of your business and how they can essentially fill the gap in your business that requires a new employee.

A stress/practical interview

These types of interview methods are typically specific to job types that require particular skills. For instance, if you are looking for someone in PR, you may set out a task or series of short tasks for them to complete to demonstrate their critical thinking skills and ability to produce high quality writing within a short time frame. You may not be looking for perfection in your candidates’ responses to a practical interview, but be more interested in whether a candidate can demonstrate the way in which they think and approach problems. It is important to make sure they understand you are interested more in their approach than their responses, as this can alleviate nerves.

A stress-based interview is not as scary as it sounds. The best example of this may be within the hospitality industry, which places employees under a degree of short term stress which is not experienced within other job types. A stress test may simply be a trial shift within a busy period to demonstrate their ability to mentally juggle multiple demands. Obviously, you would not try to place a person under short term stress in an interview if the role (i.e. a graphic designer) did not reflect this on a daily basis. You may instead choose to set that candidate a longer-term practical task, mimicking a deadline which requires longer-term juggling/prioritisation.


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