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Choosing your Interview type - Needs, formats and personalisation

Posted: 25 March 2015

The hiring process has been pulled and pushed a million and one ways, evolving with every new tool and trend that comes to light. This constant wriggling has meant several employers and recruiters have struggled to get a tight grip on best practice. Afraid of evolving alongside these tools and such, these timid talent finders opt for textbook solutions to hiring talent. This isn't a tradition bashing session, in many instances the best hiring processes are rooted in traditional practices and principles but there needs to be some stepping outside your comfort zone to stay relevant.

We all know there’s a plethora of talent searching and retention tools and options out there but when it comes to the likes of interviewing, most employers would only consider the most traditional face-to-face format. Talent searchers know the importance of the mighty interview but they do their company, candidates and themselves an injustice by not properly choosing the right interview type to employ. There’s a chunk of interview options open to hiring companies, the question is which one is best for you?

One size does not fit all - A guide to your interview type options.

In-person interviews.

They are the traditional favourite and most commonplace type. And for good reason. These sit down face-to-face interviews are still the best way to get to know a candidate personally and professionally. Body language and social skills hold the key to really establishing the personality and passion of a candidate, both things that can be sussed out perfectly in-person. Although valuable, this interview type takes us time and planning. If you have a high volume of applicants, consider jumping on a call to screen your potentials before investing hours and cash into a face-to-face meeting.

If this is your type of choice, do it right. Mix up your interview questions and cater them to each candidate you interview. By all means tick those normal boxes but throw in a curve ball question, what would they change about your company? What book are they reading at the mo? Give your candidate an interview experience that aligns with you as a brand, this is just as much an opportunity for you as it is for them.

Phone interviews.

Implemented as more of a screening / suss out tool than standalone option, the phone interview deserves to be a contender. This interview type is easy to schedule and simple to conduct so if planned correctly, you could pass this task over to a dedicated team member.

Yep, prep is everything if you go down this route. It’s not just candidates that need to swot up prior to picking up, you need to know what skills, personality and culture fit would suit you best. Customise your phone interview technique to uncovering these, that’s an art in itself. It’s all about clarifying skills and CV details, offering more info on the job itself and gauging a candidate’s interest. Get the basic Qs sorted out here so your time can be better spent on more valuable digging during the next interview stage. If you conduct this type of interview well, you can save yourself time by drilling down potentials to pros and spending quality one-to-one time with the real deals.

Dining interviews.

Company culture is key in the recruitment process today. Finding that goal and personality fit is invaluable when it comes to retaining talent so companies are going above and beyond to showcase theirs and find their ideal CC match early on. It’s just as important as skills and experience but it requires a new technique to uncover and align this hireable trait.

This form of interview is a less recognised type. Seen to many as a casual chat than formal practice, this is often shunned as not thorough enough to be considered an option. But they’re wrong. Dining interviews, or lunch/dinner interviews, are infact way more in-tune with the current talent marketplace and tick many interview etiquette boxes from comfortability to personal connection.

It may be less formal and relaxed that its traditional counterpart but it still needs detailed planning and a serious approach. Extracting a personality from a candidate can be tough, even in informal surroundings, so aim to connect over your company culture and unique values as opposed to CV points. These social sit downs tend to fit employers who regard culture and team dynamics as high priority so be sure to cater your chat to digging into your candidate’s feelings about both. Know what values and fit you hope to find before you agree to a dining interview, let this anchor the conversation.

Video interviews.

This type of interview is steadily rising up the recruitment practice ranks. It may be new to the hiring process but it doesn’t need to do much to earn its stripes. Not only is it cheap, easy to schedule and personal, it provides a suitable solution to the freelance / remote nature of today’s workforces.

Not all talent is, or needs to be, local. More and more companies are employing remote talent and traditional interview techniques aren’t always a feasible option. Every business has Skype these days and jumping on a video chat is an everyday occurrence for most big companies. It only makes sense that interviewing via this tech should be the next step.

More personal than phone but less intense than face-to-face, many argue that video interviews are a happy medium for all. This is the perfect format to bend the structure of traditional interviews, instead of only asking Qs why not combine this interview with a capability test? Online hangouts are the perfect place to combine chat and task, giving you an opp to witness their enthusiasm and problem solving process. Uphold good practice by using this as a chance to share company info or vids via links or even introduce candidates to the company workplace and character.

Panel interviews.

Perceived as scary by candidates but useful by employers, there is a balance to hit if you adopt this interview type. Being interviewed by a collection of company heads and employees is daunting and can often scare away talent before they get through the door. This form of interview should be used in the right cases only and never be used as a ‘testing them for pressure’ technique. Candidates have enough of that already. Remember that an interview is still part of the candidate experience so be nice!

There is a time and place for panel interviews. A lot of the time a series of interviews can be a time consuming, costly endeavor for a company so getting the talent in one place for all to connect with is a wise move. That said, be sure of your panel’s relevance before you pit them against a candidate. A collective opinion can be a super handy tool in your decision making process too so there’s a lot to be said for this method.

Like all great practices, your choice of interview type needs to be dependant on your needs, your culture and your relationship with candidates. In short, personalisation is key. Opting for a video interview over a face-to-face affair needs to more than a ‘yep, we’re progressive and digitally savvy’ statement. Each interview type serves a unique purpose so before you select your best bet, know what you hope to get out the experience.

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Try tweeting these snippets.

(Click to tweet) There needs to be some stepping outside your comfort zone to stay relevant. #InterviewTip
(Click to tweet) Timid talent finders opt for textbook solutions to hiring talent. #InterviewTip
(Click to tweet) Give your candidate an interview experience that aligns with you as a brand. #InterviewTip