Interviews may be the most critical part of the hiring process. They will not only help the prospective employer evaluate the candidate but set the tone for how the company is viewed by the potential employee.
We generally recommend more than one person interview the candidate and that there be a series of interviews. Some like to interview a candidate as a committee, others feel they learn more by having the various interviewers meet individually with the candidate. Important decisions should not be made quickly. There is insight to be gained by meeting the same person on several different occasions.
To ensure a properly executed interview, meet and define the questions and styles to be used by all interviewers prior to starting the interview process. Be strategic with both the questions and styles used by each person conducting an interview.
Here are four key interview styles that can be leveraged to obtain valid answers and insight about your potential candidates. These techniques will reveal the true strengths, weaknesses and personalities of your candidates.
1. Relaxed Interviewing
Greet the candidate, ask if you can get them a drink and have a casual conversation before actually starting the interview. Sit at a round table not across a desk. Look relaxed. Room lighting can also have an influence. Natural or incandescent light is the best, whereas florescent lights can often make for a more stressful environment. When you begin to ask questions, do so in a calm voice. Phrase your questions so they do not sound harsh. This comfortable environment and style of asking questions should help the candidate to feel more comfortable, often resulting in better dialogue.
2. Intimidating Interview
Create an intimidating atmosphere. Position yourself at the opposite end of a large table, or across a large desk. Bright florescent lighting is ideal. Raise your chair higher than the candidate’s chair so you appear rigid and in a more powerful stance. The goal is to create the image of an “all-business” interviewer who does not want to engage in small talk. It is best to start with extremely difficult and uncomfortable questions. Maintain eye contact while showing little expression on your face as the candidate answers your questions. Challenge the answers provided when possible to see if your candidate can handle on-the-spot pressure. This style is an effective tool to evaluate a candidate’s ability to handles stress, overcome hostile communication, and work under pressure.
3. “Friend” Interviewing
Current employees conduct the interview and approach the candidate as a friend and future co-worker, trying to bring out the true nature of the candidate. Some candidates are very effective at putting on the “interview face” and may seem like the perfect fit when interviewed by a manager or supervisor. However, an interview with potential co-workers could bring out his or her true personality. It is important to make this interview feel like a friendly discussion so that the candidate will be relaxed enough to reveal character traits that may otherwise be unseen.
4. Panel Interviewing
When implementing this technique, you create a team of several members, each with a different interviewing style. The team then interviews the candidate as a group, freely asking questions from a preplanned list. Panel interviewing forces the candidate to react to a variety of questions and personalities, and will show if the candidate can handle a situation in which diversity is a factor. Be sure to predefine a leader when doing panel interviews. After the interview, team members will have differing opinions about the candidate. Engage in open debate about the pros and cons of each candidate shortly after the interview.