When it’s time to hire new talent, you can always sit down and just start asking candidates questions.
But this approach can mean you end up getting irrelevant answers or asking different candidates completely different questions, which may not lead to the best hire.
Interview techniques are structured ways of getting information from candidates in job interviews.
These techniques are not just about the questions you ask; they also include what you do before, during, and after every interview to ensure the right hire.
Interview techniques can be used by any interviewer on your team to create a transparent, positive experience for everyone.
Why Use Interviewing Techniques?
A casual interview style can seem attractive. You get to decide where the interview will go, and you can adapt your interview to each candidate.
However, having standardized interviewing techniques and established practices that you use with every candidate has some big advantages.
- Interview techniques help you shape your conversation. They keep you on track and make sure you remember to ask every question you need to ask.
- They help ensure a fair process. Every person at your organization who interviews candidates uses the same techniques, helping remove individual interviewers’ biases.
- Interview techniques can reduce your liability. By having a plan for what happens during the interview process, you can be sure the wrong questions won’t get asked. In the US, for example, it’s illegal to ask about religious beliefs, disabilities, age, and other subjects.
- They reduce stress. Being interviewed is nerve-wracking, but being the interviewer can be stressful, too. With interviewing techniques and a plan in place, interviewers can relax and focus on the candidate, which can create a better experience for everyone.
- Interview techniques help you hire the right person. Since interview techniques require careful planning, your interviewers won’t waste time forgetting to ask important questions.
You can compare candidates more easily because all interviews should be similar. This can help you avoid expensive hiring mistakes and can even make the process faster.
What Are Some Interviewing Techniques My Organization Can Adopt?
You’ve probably heard of a variety of interview techniques. Facebook is famous for having hired talent by taking candidates on a walk through the woods with the company founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
And at Google, interviewers have been known to ask unusual questions, such as “When there’s a wind blowing, does a round-trip by plane take more time, less time, or the same time?”
All of this is in the name of hiring the best talent. But what interviewing techniques can work at your company? Here are some options to try.
Traditional interview techniques and styles
Interviewers usually have some experience with these techniques, and candidates may be ready for these styles of interviews. Chances are, they’ve encountered them before.
- Traditional, one-person interview techniques involve one interviewer and one candidate. Questions can be broad—“Where do you see yourself in five years?”—or specific—“Tell me more about your experience with accounting software.”
You may choose to hold these interviews over video if you want to evaluate a candidate’s tech skills. You may choose to meet at a restaurant or public space if you want to see a job seeker’s social skills. The most common option is to meet in a quiet room at your organization, where a candidate can see what your workplace is like.
- Panel or group interviews include multiple interviewees and one candidate. The idea is that you get feedback and impressions from more than one interviewer. These interviews are usually held on-site, at your organization.
You can choose to interview each candidate once or have rounds of interviews. For leadership positions, for example, you may have rounds of interviews with a panel. You want to be confident you’re making the right hire.
- Behavioral interview techniques ask candidates about their past experiences. The idea is that future behavior can be predicted based on what someone has done before.
You may use prompts such as “tell me about the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your work life and how you overcame it” or “tell me about what you’re most proud of in your work life.”
Non-traditional interviewing techniques
Most companies still choose traditional in-person or video interviews in the styles discussed above. However, there are also some alternative interview techniques you can try.
- Skills tests. Instead of giving a traditional interview, some companies are choosing to give candidates a skills test, instead. The benefit is that candidates who are neurodiverse or who traditionally don’t do well with interviews can excel at skills-based testing.
This technique may be a match for positions that rely more on specific tech or job-based skills.
- AVI interviews. Some companies use asynchronous video interviews, aka AVIs. These programs don’t involve an interview at all. Instead, candidates record videos of themselves answering each interview question.
Candidates can usually preview and re-record answers until they get it just right. This technique can be a fit for large companies reviewing many candidates.
- Real-world tests. Another interview technique to try is to have a candidate complete a small task with the team they would be working with if hired. Try to make the test assignment as close as possible to what they would do in their role to get a glimpse of their work style.
- Team review. At some businesses, there are multiple “hidden” interviewers. Employees from around the company are asked to interact with a candidate when they come in for the interview.
They then report how the job seeker treated the assistant, the maintenance worker, and others at the company. This can be a good technique if the role you’re hiring for will involve working with many people.
- Surprise tests. When Heineken wanted to hire someone to follow a champion football team on its world tour as part of a marketing campaign, they staged an elaborate test.
Candidates were faced with their interviewer “fainting” in the interview room and then firefighters arriving to “rescue” a man from the roof. It was all staged and designed to find someone who could respond to the unexpected.
Usually, surprise tests are simpler. They may involve an interviewer dropping a file or needing help holding a coffee cup.
The idea is that such tests may show empathy, initiative, and a willingness to help.
Best Interviewing Practices from Start to Finish
Did you know that 92% of job seekers are stressed by at least one part of the interview process? Try these field-tested best practices to make interviews more pleasant for everyone.
Before your interviews
Implementing successful interviewing techniques starts before the interview begins. Preparation helps you focus on creating a smooth experience for everyone while getting the answers you need to make a solid hiring decision.
These steps will help you walk into each interview room with confidence.
- Define your needs. What skills and qualifications are required for the role? How many interviews are you planning on per candidate? Review the job description and outline the “must haves” for the position.
In each interview, you’ll probably be able to evaluate each candidate for about three of the skills or attributes you’re looking for. If you want to consider more than three attributes, you’ll probably need extra interviews.
- Consider your current team. As you define what you’re looking for, think about what attributes, skills, and abilities would fit in well with your current workers. What gaps need to be filled?
This can help you determine who would fit with your organization and who you may need to round out your team.
- Create questions beforehand. Write out questions you want to ask, such as “Why are you qualified for this role?” and “How did you resolve your last conflict?” Look back at your “must haves” for the position to decide on which questions will help you find those skills in a candidate.
Once you’ve created your list of questions, write down any follow-ups you may need to ask for each question.
- Define success for each question. For each question, write out the answers you’re hoping to hear. This makes it easier to evaluate candidates’ replies.
- Create scorecards. Scorecards let the interviewers capture candidates’ replies and their impressions. For best results, make scorecards simple, so they can be filled out during the interview.
They can include each question you’ll ask, and space for interviewers to rank the answer they receive from each candidate on a scale from 1-5 or 1-10. Add some space for any notes the interviewer wants to take, too.
- Train your interviewers. Use a platform like Connecteam to create video training lessons to help anyone in the hiring process improve their interview skills. Train your interviewers about questions it’s illegal to ask. Teach them about how to explain your company to a candidate and how to manage their interview time.
- Share questions. Prior to the interview, share the scorecard templates and interview questions, as well as the goals of the interview, with your hiring team and interviewers.
Whoever will be talking to candidates should have a clear idea of what to ask and in what order. You might also want to share interview questions with candidates.
This lets them prepare the best answer for you and establishes trust. When you share questions beforehand, it’s clear you don’t have any “gotcha!” questions.
During the interview
Showtime! The interview itself is a chance for candidates to impress you. It also lets a job seeker decide whether they want to work for you.
The following interview techniques can help you both communicate effectively.
- Keep each interview equivalent. When you ask the same questions of everyone, it’s easier to compare talent and skills.
Keeping the questions and experience as similar as possible also gives all candidates a level playing field and can help avoid discrimination.
- Stay present. Every so often, remember to silently evaluate the interview. Are you giving enough time for the candidate to speak? Are you fully focused on the interviewee, their body language, and their facial expressions?
Is the interview comfortable, or do you need to adjust your own body language and tone of voice?
- Be ready for candidate questions. Candidates are likely to have questions about company culture, the position, development and training opportunities, what success in the position looks like, and even the interviewer’s own experience in joining the company.
Leave room to answer these questions and be ready to speak about these subjects.
After the interview
Your interview doesn’t stop after the final handshake. The following interviewing techniques will get you all the way to your next hire.
- Gather the interviewing team. Once the interview is over, use tech like Connecteam secure chat or get together in person to discuss what you’ve learned.
Go over the candidate’s resume, your scorecards, and any other information you have. While your memory of the interview is fresh, jot down anything you remember. Look back at what you’re looking for from a candidate. Based on the interview and everything else you know, how close did the candidate get?
- Communicate with candidates early and often. It can take a while to get through interviewing all your potential candidates. In the meantime, those you’ve already interviewed are waiting eagerly.
Make the process easier. After each interview, send a thank-you note to the candidate and explain the next steps. If you can offer dates when you expect to make a decision, share that.
Continuing to communicate with each candidate helps you to get to know them better and assures each individual they are still being considered.
- Make and share your decision. If possible, make a decision soon after you’ve interviewed your final candidate. Congratulate your new hire. Then, contact every other candidate to explain that you’ve made your decision.
Turning job seekers down respectfully is an important part of building your brand—having a reputation for treating candidates badly can come back to bite you.
The best technique here is to be honest and to wish each non-winning candidate the best. You may want to include a note on any impressive parts about the candidate’s experience, skills, or replies.
Making your note personal and positive ends the process on a good note. You never know—the candidate who didn’t quite make it this round may be the ideal hire for your next position as your company continues to grow.
Getting Your Interview Techniques Right
The right interviewing techniques help you uncover the skills and qualities of job candidates so you can find out if they’ll fit your team.
Strong techniques and established practices keep the interview process similar each time, regardless of the candidate and interviewer.
This can create a fairer and easier interview for everyone.
With great interview techniques, you may soon be welcoming a talented new hire to your team!