Hiring the right candidate can be a long, expensive, and sometimes frustrating process. What’s worse and, potentially more costly, is hiring the wrong person. The costs of lost productivity, ill will created among other team members, and incomplete or inaccurate work, are just a sampling of the unfortunate consequences of a poor hiring decision.
For these reasons, interviewing and using a variety of techniques to confirm your hiring choice, is strongly suggested. I’ve been interviewed under all of the following circumstances with the exception of a “structured” interview. I think there is much to be learned from being on both sides of the equation in each of these interviewing situations.
I believe it’s in the best interests of the employer and the candidate that they have as many different opportunities to interface so that each can see the other in the clearest light possible. To think that someone would hire someone based on a single interview experience is not wise — although it happens all the time. Today, we have many choices when it comes to finding the right talent and cultural fit.
Here are some examples of different types of interviewing methods, along with some of thoughts about each.
1. The nondirective interview. This is the least structured of the various interviewing methods. In this scenario, the applicant drives the conversation. The interviewer is tasked with asking open-ended questions, ones which necessitate a response other than a simple “yes” or “no.”
One benefit of this type of interview is that it allows the interviewer to get a good sense of how the individual communicates and organizes his or her thoughts. I think this skill is quite important especially if hiring for management positions or those where there’s a lot of interaction with others — internally or externally. The ability to clearly communicate well in an organized, cohesive, and comprehensible manner is key to success. The downside of this type of interview is that it’s unstructured and thus comparisons among different candidates become more subjective.
The reliability and validity of this interview approach is minimal because there is no way to anchor the output to anything measurable. An example of a question that might be asked of a candidate: “Tell me why you think you’re the best candidate for the job.”
2. The structured interview. This approach is aligned with EEOC requirements as it hinges on formulating questions that will maximize interview validity. The questions are standardized which allows for rating and ranking applicants.
It’s been shown that structured interviews are a better predictor of on-the-job performance than nonstructured interviews. Situational and behavioral interviews are types of structured interviews. An example of a question that might be asked of a candidate: “Explain the process you would use to calculate plant overhead.”
3. The situational interview. A situational interview is a type of structured interview where the applicant is provided with a hypothetical scenario and asked how they would respond to it. I think this is a great way to gauge the candidate’s ability to think on his or her feet. It’s an opportunity for them to express their creativity while grounding their answer in a solid plan of action.
This is the perfect type of interview for any position because one’s job is nothing but a series of things they haven’t done before in the context of the current organizational setting. Seeing how candidates respond, witnessing their thinking process, and how they path their plan of action can tell you a lot about how they solve problems. Being able to think on one’s feet and through the various nuances of a problem is a problem half solved! An example of a question that might be asked of a candidate: “If you had to evaluate several vendors for a new project, how would you go about it?”
4. The behavioral description interview. The behavioral interview is also a type of structured interview where the applicant is asked to respond to questions based upon their past actual experiences. This type of interview can be useful when trying to understand how someone has solved a problem or set of problems which might be frequently encountered in the position under consideration. In addition, there’s an assumption that past performance is an indicator of future performance. An example of a question that might be asked of a candidate: “Tell me about a time when you missed an important work deadline and how you handled it with your superiors.”
5. The panel interview. This is an interview where a group of interviewers ask questions of the candidate. The panels might be comprised of employees from a variety of departments with which the candidate might potentially interface. The panel may include superiors, peers and subordinates.
Personally, this is my favorite kind of interview from the candidate perspective. I like to see how employees interact with each other and how savvy they are when they ask questions. I like to see how fast I can connect and actually turn the questions back on them. It gives me the opportunity to interview them. I want to know as much as possible about the employees, their culture and how they appear to get along so that I can make the best decision.
Just as employers have limited observation points to assess a candidate prior to hiring, the same applies to the candidate. You’re looking to create a “marriage” of sorts and you have a very short “getting to know you” period. This is why it’s so important for both sides to do as much homework in advance and to take advantage of as many interviewing opportunities as possible.
From the perspective of the interviewers, this scenario allows them to come together to discuss their common experience with the candidate. Everyone experienced the candidate interview at the same time. While each interviewer will have a different perspective on what happened, the shared experience will allow them to debrief on various aspects of the exchange. Also by engaging a diverse panel of interviewers, there is less potential for discriminatory practices to impinge on the hiring process. Questions that might be asked include:
Interviewer 1: “Where do you see yourself in 3 years?”
Interviewer 2: “What’s one of the hardest decisions you’ve had to make as a manager?”
Interviewer 3: “Tell me about your experience with managing virtual teams.”
6. The computer and virtual interview. Technology has ushered in a lot of interesting options when it comes to interviewing candidates. Computer-based interviews allow candidates to answer questions independently and the results can be evaluated later and possibly compared to a “norm” or other candidates. Virtual interviews can include using online simulated environments or games which can test certain qualities of the individual. Potential candidates can even create their own interview videos and send them to recruiters.
Using technology has many benefits. In the short-term, it can be quite expensive to use such technology, however, in the long term these tools can be both efficient and cost effective. Also, for positions that require the use of technology, it’s a great test to see if the candidate can complete the exercise as expected.
In the years to come, using various technologies for interviewing will continue to increase — both as a cost savings measure as well as to introduce factors of reliability and validity into the hiring process. An example of a computer interview might include a candidate answering a list of multiple choice questions and possibly providing written responses to questions more qualitative in nature. To me, a virtual interview would also include telephone interviews. Again, these particular interviews could be non-directed, structured, situational, behavioral or a combination of these.
7. Video and digitally-recorded interviews. Videoconferencing and digitally-recorded meetings are being more commonly used as interviewers and candidates are growing more comfortable with these communication channels. They are cost effective and allow both employers and candidates to completed preliminary screening processes faster, easier and with less effort. Think about how much time could be saved if both parties jumped on FaceTime (Apple) or Skype Video to conduct a quick screening interview. With pressures to get more done with less resources, anything which reduces time, on the part of both parties, is welcomed!
This work is copyrighted (c) 2016 by Tara Kachaturoff. All rights reserved in all media. Protected by Copyscape.