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Interviews come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from the traditional one-on-one interview to group interviews with multiple candidates.
Different types of interviews include:
- Screening Interview – The screening interview is used to help employers narrow the pool of potential candidates. Employers are generally looking for objective information regarding experience and qualifications. Used as a “process of elimination,” screening interviews help qualify an individual for the position or dismiss them from the rest of the interviewing process. This type of interview may be conducted over the telephone, especially in cases in which there are very concrete criteria candidates must meet in order to be considered.
- Telephone Interview – Telephone interviews are often conducted if a candidate cannot travel to the worksite for an interview, usually due to distance. Though telephone interviews may be very helpful, they lack the some of the advantages of in-person interviews. You can glean useful information by a candidate’s nonverbal communication and presentation. The more you have invested in a candidate’s success, the more you should consider defraying the candidate’s travel expenses for a face-to-face interview.
- Directive Interview – A directive interview can be used to make comparisons among candidates easier. In this type of interview, an interviewer has a list of questions that are asked of every candidate, in a particular order, within a set amount of time. Advantages of directive interviews include consistency and efficiency. Disadvantages include an impersonal structure that may not give you an accurate impression of a candidate. Directive interviews work best in the early stages of the process.
- Behavioral Interview – During a behavioral interview, an employer asks a candidate to describe how they have performed, or would perform, in a certain situation. For example, a candidate may be asked which skills (e.g., problem solving, leadership) he or she has used under a given set of circumstances (e.g., dealing with an irate customer, heading a team). This type of interview is useful because it allows an interviewer to get a sense of what type of problem solving,adaptability, leadership, conflict resolution, multi-tasking, or stress management skills a candidate possesses.
- Follow-up Interview – The follow-up interview is an excellent way to obtain more information on a particular candidate. You can ask questions you may have overlooked during the first interview or get more information to help make a final decision when several candidates seem qualified. Employers may also use follow-up interviews to allow other members of the organization to meet and review a candidate.
- Group Interview – A group interview consists of many interviewees and one (or several) interviewers. This is an excellent way to observe candidates to assess leadership ability. Usually framed as a “group discussion,” a group interview is an ideal setting to evaluate interaction among candidates, as well as other interpersonal characteristics.
- Board or Panel Interview – In a board interview, many interviewers simultaneously meet with one interviewer. Though this arrangement may be somewhat intimidating for a candidate, board interviews allow all relevant members of the organization to evaluate a candidate, saving time and moving the process along. You can include the hiring manager, higher-level members of management, and perhaps even a potential coworker in the board interview.
- Stress Interview – The stress interview involves creating a stressful situation for a candidate to gauge his or her reaction and ability to work under stress. This is usually a portion of an interview, as opposed to an entire interview, and works best when the position for which the candidate is interviewing involves a significant level of stress or pressure. During a stress interview, an interviewer may act very cold or unresponsive, make a candidate wait a long time before the interview even begins, or ask a candidate to persuade the interviewer to do something obscure or bizarre to see how he or she will handle the situation. Stress interviews should only be used when truly necessary.
- Dinner Interview – This type of interview involves taking a candidate out to lunch or dinner. These interviews can be formal or informal, and are usually done to try to put a candidate at ease.
- One-on-One Interview – This type of interview involves one interviewer and one candidate. Interviewers usually have their own style of interviewing and ask their own questions. This type of interview is usually conversational in nature, therefore more informal and less intimidating for the candidate.
- Nondirective or Meandering Interview – In nondirective interviews, interviewers ask open-ended questions, allowing the candidate to do most of the talking and lead the discussion. This type of interview usually occurs when an interviewer is inexperienced or when an interviewer wants to get an impression of a candidate’s personality.
- “Audition” Interview – In an “audition” interview, a candidate is asked to perform a task or assignment as part of the interview. For example, a computer programmer may be asked to write a series of code or a salesperson may be asked to enact a mock sale. This can be done as part of an interview and provides a useful picture of the quality and style of a candidate’s work.
6 Steps to the Ideal Hiring
- Introduce yourself clearly.
- Confirm pronunciation of interviewee’s name and how he or she prefers to be addressed. Don’t make assumptions, for example, about nicknames.
- Make a little “small talk.” This helps ease transition into business and establish a rapport with the candidate. Pleasant chatting may also give parties a preliminary sense of each other. For example, even a comment about weather can suggest whether a person is an optimist or a pessimist!
- Give interviewee the basic outline/procedure you have in mind for the interview. Mention the sequence of topics and expected total time.
- Start by asking questions on familiar topics. Listen to how the candidate speaks and thinks. For example, you could ask about:
- Interest in the business: What, how, why.
- Interviewee’s area of professional interest: What, how, why.
- Classes and activities: (Note: don’t ask specifically about activities that may make stereotypical assumptions or seem to be filtering for some sort of political, religious, or social leanings. Ask the question in a totally open, nonthreatening way.) What, how, why.
- Job search: How it is going, etc.
- Ask about interviewee’s experiences, including:
- Work experiences: Details on work performed, feelings and attitudes toward past job(s), reasons for leaving or interviewing, reasons for interest in new job
- Education: Favorite/least favorite studies or activities, special knowledge/skills not visible in school records
- Ask about goals or desires. For example:
- What interviewee is looking for in a job
- What interviewee is looking for in an employer
- Career goals
- Development needs/desires
- Ask about interviewee’s receptiveness to basic conditions. For example:
- Willingness to relocate, if applicable
- Salary range
- Availability/preferred starting date
This is the point of the interview at which you are likely to have the information you need to decide whether to pursue the candidate. Consider whether the interviewee is a promising candidate.
- If not, end the interview as quickly as possible. Never be abrupt or rude, just avoid wasting time trying to “sell” the job; it may mislead the candidate.
- If so, proceed to Step 4 and make your best effort to present the company and position in the best possible light. Be careful not to make any promises you can’t keep.
Once you’ve decided that the candidate is promising, give him or her the information they need by talking about:
- The company: Company strengths, future plans, organizational climate
- Opportunities for growth and development, without promising “advancement” in so many words.
- The position: Duties and responsibilities, future developments, a “typical day,” characteristic interactions. Try to relate these details to candidate’s goals, experiences, and strengths.
- The benefits: Present basic information on benefit package, emphasizing benefits that may be of particular interest.
Then, ask interviewee for questions. It is easy to field such inquiries by preparing in advance. Typical questions are about:
- The company atmosphere, dynamics, future, and problems.
- You and your feelings as an employee, your style as a supervisor, how long you’ve been here and how long you plan to stay.
- The job, turnover, problems, why the position is open.
- Policies, raises, vacation and personal time, performance review, promotion opportunities, etc.
- Miscellaneous personal needs and issues.
If you can’t answer a question, say you’ll research it and get back to candidate. Be sure to follow up.
- Tell the candidate what the next step(s) will be. For example, will there be reference checks?Interviews with others in the company? Job-related skill tests, physical exams?
- Convey your positive response without overdoing it. You don’t want to imply that the candidate will be hired at this early stage.
- Thank candidate for time and interest and escort him or her to the door
- Record your impressions, observations, and ratings of the candidate. Consider using a standardized form for this.
- Evaluate your own performance as interviewer: What went well, what went wrong, any information you failed to get or give, and how will may do better next time.
Interviewing Dos and Donts
- Discuss realistic job requirements.
- Ask open-ended questions to get the candidate talking.
- Avoid judging by your “gut reaction” to an employee.
- Perform the interview in a quiet place and give the candidate your full attention.
- Ask follow-up questions to get more information on certain topics.
- Outline the essential functions of the job.
- Take notes.
- Follow up with the candidate, regardless of the hiring decision.
- Discuss challenges associated with the position.
- Maintain control of the conversation.
- Make the candidate feel comfortable
- Ask questions unrelated to the job.
- Misrepresent the job or its duties in any way.
- Ask impermissible questions.
- Prejudge or form an opinion on a candidate before getting all of the facts.
- Ask closed-ended (“yes” or “no”) questions.
- Keep the candidate waiting.
- Make or imply promises that you may not be able to keep.
- Do all of the talking; give the candidate time to respond to your questions.
- Rush the candidate; make sure you have allotted enough time to perform the interview.
Interviewing and hiring are high-risk areas where the law is concerned. Your best defense is a good offense. In other words, protect yourself by knowing the law and your limitations under it. Look over some examples of legal interview questions that are likely to provoke quality responses. Then review your legal limitations regarding interview questions. Finally, get information onthe importance of documenting the interviewing process.
Helpful Sample Questions
Ask questions that will give you the most detail about the person’s experiences and skill level, such as:
- What made you apply for this position?
- How did you hear about this job opening?
- Tell me about yourself.
- In a brief statement, would you summarize your work history and education for me?
- Why are you leaving your present (or last) job?
- What kinds of co-workers/management do you like best and why? Least?
- How does this job fit in with your overall career plan?
- Can you describe for me one or two of the most important accomplishments (or biggest disappointments) of your career?
- What might make you leave this job?
- How do your talents or skills relate to this job?
- How many days did you miss during the last year? What were the reasons?
- How would you describe your relationship with your last (present) supervisor?
Your Limitations When Asking Questions
You cannot ask questions regarding an applicant’s race, national origin, family history, marital status, age (or date of birth). You may feel that questions in some sensitive areas are, indeed relevant to the position for which you are interviewing. When in doubt, don’t ask.
Here is a list of some sensitive areas, and how you should handle them:
Regarding age/date of birth:
Do not ask: “How old are you?” or “When were you born?”
You may ask: “Are you over___(state minimum age or the minimum age for the job)?“
Regarding arrest records:
Do not ask: “Have you ever been arrested? For what?”
You may ask: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” and “Please give details.” (For positions such as daycare worker, security guard, bank teller, cashier, etc.)
Regarding citizenship/country of birth:
Do not ask: “Of what country are you a citizen?” or “Where were you born? Your parents?”
You may ask: “Are you legally eligible to work in this country?”
Regarding citizenship/country of birth:
Do not ask: “List clubs, social organizations, etc. to which you belong.” (This could indicate membership in a protected class.)
You may ask: “List professional or trade groups, unions or other organizations that you consider relevant to your ability to perform this work. Omit those indicating race, creed, sex, age, disability, national origin, or other protected group.”
Do not ask: “Do you have any disabilities?”, “Have you ever been treated for any of the following diseases?”, “Do you have any physical, mental, or medical disabilities that would interfere with your ability to perform the job for which you have applied?”
You may ask: “Are you able to __________ [specify each essential job function]?”
Do not ask: “How tall are you?” or “How much do you weigh?”
You may ask: Substitute physical tests if relevant to job performance requirements.
Regarding language(s) spoken:
Do not ask: “What is your ‘native tongue’?”, “What is your first language?”, “What language is spoken at home?”, or “How did you learn a foreign language?”
You may ask: (If job-related) “What language(s) do you speak and/or write fluently?” or “What is your degree of fluency?”
Regarding marital status, children, or child care arrangements:
Do not ask: “Do you wish to be addressed as Mr., Mrs., or Ms.?”, “How many children do you have? Their ages?”, “Do you plan to have children?” or “What is your marital status?”
You may ask: State company policy on attendance and leaves and/or the travel or overtime requirements of the job, if any, and ask if candidate would be able to meet these conditions.
Regarding personal finances:
Do not ask: “Do you have any overdue bills?” or “Tell me about your credit history.”
You may ask: (If job-related) Perform a credit check after obtaining written consent and in accordance with the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
You may not make any inquiries into these areas.
The Importance of Documentation
You are likely to deal with a number of incumbents during the interviewing process, from screening to selection. Protect yourself from potential lawsuits by making hiring decisions based on legally defensible factors and documenting decisions well. You may be called upon to support your decision to reject a candidate and such documentation will assist you in both recalling the details of the situation and defending your choice.