Have you ever thought about why you interview the way you do? Is it because of training you received. Maybe it is a result of the comfort level you felt while on the other side of the interview table. Very few hiring managers have ever received formal training on how to successfully conduct interviews. Since hiring the right people is an essential part of company success, choosing the right interview style is also essential.
There are many different ways to conduct an interview. But fundamentally, you will use either a conversational or structured format.
Interview style: Structured
The structured interview is more formal, and as it sounds – structured in format. For this type of interview, you will have a prepared list of questions for the interviewee. To the candidate, this type of interview may feel like they are a contestant on a quiz show. The structured interview is great for digging into technical skills, subject matter knowledge, and details on prior work experience. At times, this interview can be more stressful for the candidate. On a positive note, that can provide you with some insight into how candidates perform under pressure. On the flip side, this method often offers limited ability to get insight into the candidate’s personality. This also makes it challenging to feel for cultural fit.
Interview style: Conversational
The conversational format is typically more free-flowing, informal. It may feel more like a conversation with a friend over a cup of coffee. Usually, the interview starts with reviewing the resume. Follow-up questions naturally flow based upon the answers provided. This type of interview is typically more comfortable for the interviewee. It allows them to open up and share more of their personality. Naturally, this allows you some insight into a potential team fit.
Conversational things to keep in mind
Sometimes the candidate may overshare and tell you things you need to disregard as part of the hiring decision process because the topics are off-limits from a legal standpoint. Examples include health issues, marital and family status, age, etc. As a possible downside, you may realize after the interview you didn’t ask some key questions you intended to ask because the conversation took a different direction. This can make the decision how to proceed forward with the candidate more challenging.
Which is right for me?
How should you pick which method to use? Well, it depends on a few things. First, the method that appeals most to your personality might be the most comfortable for you and therefore yield the best results. Sometimes it may be situational. If you want to really learn more about their technical skills, knowledge and experience, you may need to default to a structured interview. On the other hand, maybe you are on the second interview and feel confident the skills are there and need to determine cultural fit, so a conversational format may be ideal.
Preparing for an interview requires some preplanning and choosing your interview style is one key ingredient in the recipe for hiring the right talent.
Written by Tiffany Appleton, Director, Accounting & Finance Division