How to conduct a job interview: types, methods, questions
Without exaggeration, an interview is one of the most important stages of a hiring process. And a successful filling of a vacancy and a pleasant realization that the candidate is no longer a candidate, but a “person in his/her proper place” depends on how the recruiter conducts it.
So, how to conduct a job interview as efficiently as possible?
A job interview is a conversation between an employer’s representative (hiring manager, HR manager, team leader) and an applicant for a vacant position. The main goal of this meeting is to find out whether the candidate is a good fit for the company, and vice versa – whether the company attracts the candidate.
How to interview a candidate? The interview can take place offline – in the company’s office or on a neutral territory, and online – most often via Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, etc. It also happens that the recruiter contacts the candidate by phone the day before to understand in advance whether further communication makes sense – in case there are fundamental requirements on both sides and a compromise is impossible.
A job interview is an important event for everyone, so you should prepare for it carefully. Let’s take a look at the types and methods of interviews, their advantages and peculiarities, examples of basic questions, and other details that should be kept in focus.
Strategies of interviews… according to geography
There are different types of interviews with potential employee that can be used by the interviewer.
British. The hiring decision is based on a personal interview. Questions relate to both professional activities and private life. It is suitable for a wide range of positions and for obtaining generalized data.
German. Based on a package of supporting documents (letters of recommendation, certificates, diplomas). Usually, their authenticity is carefully checked, and the recruiter’s attention is focused mainly on professional skills. It is perfect for top executives, doctors and teachers.
American. Creative abilities and psychological portrait of the candidate are the priority. Formats include testing, an informal conversation, a company presentation with questions about what the candidate would do in a given situation. It is used to recruit creative managers, designers and other creative professionals.
Chinese. Much attention is paid to written “mini-exams”, tests and even… essays. This format is designed for candidates who are looking for representatives of “reflective”, intellectual professions such as engineers or publishing editors.
But, as a rule, modern recruiters and HR mix all the techniques and even create their own. The main thing is to prevent jaundice in relation to the candidate.
In this regard, even for the first interview with a candidate for a very responsible position (commercial director, chief engineer), a recruiter may additionally invite an HR manager, HRD or a representative of the company’s management team as interviewers. Or a multi-step selection is applied: recruiter – direct manager – company CEO, if necessary.
How to conduct an interview: methods
The methodology of such an interview is based on questions that form several blocks. Their sequence may be as follows: first, the recruiter asks about the candidate’s professional competencies, then about experience and management skills, and then asks about already implemented projects and their results, motivation, goals, prospects and plans for the future. The advantage of a structured interview is the ability to quickly compare several candidates by their answers to identical questions and draw first conclusions.
According to competencies
It is considered to be one of the most objective methods in recruitment for determining whether a candidate is suitable for a particular vacancy. The purpose of such an interview is to understand how competent the candidate is in his or her field and what real experience he or she has. Therefore, for each position, the key competencies that the candidate shall have are identified. The interview is based on purely professional questions or cases that will help to see the candidate’s thinking, behavior and decisions.
The principle of the interview is revealed in the name itself. It is suitable for vacancies that require independent and quick decision-making: management positions, first responders, military, etc. The candidate is offered a situation (or several completely different ones) with a specific task, when the candidate has to describe his or her plan of action and justify it; this is analyzed and evaluated, including by the future manager.
The candidate is asked to evaluate the actions of other people (real or fictional) or characters (movies, literary works). He/she has to analyze the situation and give his/her own professional assessment. The advantages of this methodology are the low probability of “desired answers” from the candidate, his or her expectations can be compared with the company’s capabilities, and the most accurate assessment of creative and motivational potential. Unlike the situational methodology, the projective methodology may allow some time for reflection. Several options are welcome from the candidate with an analysis of the best one.
The interview is suitable for positions where non-standard conflicts and situations that require endurance and balance constantly arise. These are salespeople, show business workers, sales managers, call center operators, journalists, and others who need close, constant contact with people. Stress interviews are conducted in a rather tense atmosphere with the use of non-standard and even brutal questions, cross-examination, deliberate psychological pressure, etc.
Such interviews can be conducted with or without warning about their specific nature. In the second case, the “purity” of the experiment is higher, but there is a risk that the candidate will… just leave. Therefore, in any case, this method is for experienced recruiters and HR.
It should also be borne in mind that there are no universal methods of conducting interviews for all occasions – everything depends on the specific vacancy and the requirements of the position. How to interview for a job is a challenge for a candidate. But no matter what methodology is used, a recruiter (especially a beginner) is advised to follow a conditional plan that includes the purpose of the meeting, a brief presentation of the company, a focus on the vacancy, questions about qualifications and experience, and, of course, answers to the candidate’s questions.
Meeting place: guidelines
An effective interview also requires careful organizational preparation. The recruiter should have a job description, an indicative interview plan with a list of questions, forms or a notebook/tablet to record the candidates’ answers, and of course, a well-organized meeting place.
If it is held offline, a meeting room or a separate office where no one disturbs you, tea, coffee and water; if it is held online, a stable Internet connection, a high-quality camera and a timely connection without force majeure. It is important to keep in mind that not only the company is looking for a candidate, but also the candidate 🙂. And even these seemingly small things matter.
How to conduct an interview: tips and sample questions
The list of interview questions depends on the vacancy specifics. But the first thing to remember for successful job interviewing is to create a friendly atmosphere. Candidates are usually nervous, and the recruiter’s task is to take the heat off; the more relaxed the candidate is, the more likely they are to give accurate answers. To do this, you can use a casual small talk: ask about the weather, ask if the candidate found the office easily, offer tea/coffee/water, show them where they can leave their outerwear, etc.
Below are some basic questions that can be improved, personalized and adapted to the interview plan using any method.
- Please tell us about yourself as a professional.
- Tell us about your responsibilities at your previous jobs.
- What achievements are you particularly proud of?
- Give us an example of a particularly challenging task that you have managed to solve.
- Why did you leave your previous job?
- What would your former manager/colleagues/subordinates tell about you?
- Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses. What do you particularly respect about yourself?
- What is success/failure in your understanding?
- Why do you think you are suitable for this position?
- What tasks will you set for yourself and solve during the first month of work in our company?
- Tell us about your plans for this position in our company. How do you start your project?
- Describe five qualities of your perfect manager.
- How do you think your profession and the field of work in general will develop (a good question when hiring engineers, IT specialists, or other high-tech workers).
- How do you develop yourself in professional way? What do you plan to do for your growth in the near future?
- What will you do if you need to adapt to changes in your field quickly?
- What do you know about our company?
- What attracts you to this particular job?
- Describe a case when you were unable to understand a task at the first try.
- What meetings/events (in your area of expertise) have impressed you most?
- How do you make important decisions?
- And so on 🙂
Summarizing the interview
Any interview provides summarizing the results in a report, which should contain at least basic information:
- name of the candidate
- date and time of the interview
- general conclusions (hard and soft skills, general impression of the candidate, motivation, recommendations, etc.).
It is worth recording everything that will affect the potential employee’s assessment and help form a final opinion. And it is convenient to collect and store all the necessary information on candidates in an automated recruiting ATS system – in particular, this greatly simplifies the work of comparing candidates, transferring them from stage to stage, and systematizing information if several recruiters are working on a vacancy. Here you can try it free of charge.