Common types of interviewing strategies
There are dozens of interview techniques for employers that you can use when interviewing potential hires.
Some of the most common techniques used by job interviewers include:
- Structure-based interviewing
- Rapport-based interviewing
- Information-based interviewing
Structure-based interviewing strategies
Structure-based employer interview techniques adhere to a predetermined time frame or schedule. Interviewers use this strategy to help with preplanning and overall preparation. Before a structure-based interview, the interviewer prepares a list of the questions they intend to ask and topics they want to cover.
After meeting and exchanging pleasantries with the interviewee, the interviewer provides a brief overview explaining how the interview will proceed. This helps to manage the interviewee’s expectations and puts them at ease by eliminating any chance of surprises.
A pitfall of this strategy is the possibility of the interview seeming rigid or overly formal, so it’s important to tailor the questions to fit the specific interviewee and encourage honest answers. If the interview operates on a time limit, it’s also important to set aside a few minutes at the end of the meeting to allow the interviewee to ask questions.
Rapport-based interview techniques make use of casual conversation, instead of following a strict format. This type of interview often begins with the interviewer making an effort to get to know the interviewee by asking friendly questions concerning their career goals, background or hobbies.
After establishing a relaxed atmosphere, the interviewer then transitions into asking questions related to education, experience and skills. The goal of rapport-based interviewing is to acquire an accurate understanding of who the interviewee is as an individual.
Rapport-based interview strategies require two-sided conversation. Interviewees are often nervous, so building rapport can help to encourage confidence and eliminate any awkwardness. One drawback of this technique is the possibility of the conversation drifting off-topic.
Sometimes friendly conversation can lead to both parties sharing personal stories and anecdotes. While a little casual conversation allows the interviewer to get an idea of the candidate’s personality, it’s important to stay on point. The interviewer can keep a list of questions or talking points on their desk to ensure they stay on track and don’t accidentally skip any crucial topics.
An information-based interview is structured as an exchange of information. The purpose of this strategy is to trade pieces of information back and forth between the interviewer and interviewee. To accomplish this, the interviewer begins by asking broad, general questions.
Asking general questions encourages the interviewee to provide lengthy answers, usually packed with relevant information. If their answers aren’t specific enough, the interviewer can ask clarifying questions as a follow-up. Once the interviewee has answered thoroughly, the interviewer can then respond by sharing relevant information about the company or themselves.
This facilitates a continuous exchange of information between the two parties, putting them on equal footing and promoting two-sided communication. As the interview progresses, the interviewer can ask increasingly specific questions until they have all the information they need to make a hiring decision.
Things to try
There are several tips and tricks you can use to increase the efficiency of your interviewing process.
Here are some suggestions for your next round of interviews:
- Read the resume and cover letter
- Prepare creative questions
- Choose your interviewer carefully
Read the resume and cover letter
Before conducting an interview, be sure to read the applicant’s cover letter and resume thoroughly. Take note of their education, experience level and skills, and use the information to guide your line of questioning.
Look for gaps in their employment history, unusual job titles, atypical skills or anything else that you would like them to explain or clarify in person. Write down their career goals or objectives, their salary requirements and other key topics that you’d like to discuss during the interview.
Prepare creative questions
One of the best ways to keep an interview from feeling stale or repetitive is to ask creative and dynamic questions. Asking common questions, such as questions about their personal strengths, will likely prompt a rehearsed and unoriginal answer. To facilitate an interesting and meaningful conversation, try asking questions that catch the interviewee off-guard.
Here are some examples of thought-provoking interview questions:
- Tell me about the last time you learned something new.
- How would your previous coworkers describe you?
- How do you think our product/service could be improved?
Choose your interviewer carefully
Deciding who should conduct your company’s interviews is a crucial part of setting up the interview process. If possible, it’s often a good idea for the new hire’s direct supervisor to conduct the interviews. Since they’ll work alongside the employee in their new role, they’re likely the best judge of who would best fit the position.
Another option is to have a small team of employees conduct the interviews and then compare notes. Involving multiple personalities and perspectives can lead to more informed decisions.
Questions to avoid when conducting interviews
While it’s important to be thorough when conducting an interview, so you can learn as much as possible about a potential candidate, there are certain topics and questions that should be avoided or carefully worded. This is to ensure that you don’t unintentionally discriminate against an interviewee or infringe on a candidate’s right to privacy.
Some areas where you might want to tread lightly during an interview include:
- Age: While it’s okay to verify whether an applicant meets the minimum age requirements for a job, individuals aged 40 and older are protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prevents employers from discriminating against both potential and current employees based on their age. A better question to ask is whether the interview meets the minimum age requirements for the job if it’s not clearly apparent, without asking for an exact number.
- Disabilities: Individuals with disabilities are protected against discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Asking an applicant directly whether they’re disabled can lead to complaints later on if that worker is terminated or feels discriminated against in the workplace. While certain disabilities may be visibly obvious, such as an applicant using a mobility device, it’s best to simply ask whether the applicant possesses the capabilities needed to perform the job at hand.
- Religious topics: Inquiring about someone’s religious beliefs should always be avoided unless the job in question is for a faith-based organization. However, in some situations, an applicant may require additional accommodations due to their religion. In this case, it would be the responsibility of the applicant to advise the employer of their needs once they’re hired.
Interviewing strategies FAQs
The answers to the following frequently asked questions about interviewing can provide you with more information about employer interview techniques.
How do I prepare to conduct an interview?
Interviewers should dedicate time and effort to preparing for every interview. This often includes reading the applicant’s resume, conducting an internet search for their name and contacting any professional references. Interviewers should formulate questions that are specifically relevant to the interviewee and the position they’re applying for. Interviewers can also anticipate questions that the interviewee might ask and prepare answers in advance.
What structure should a job interview follow?
There are several formats that a job interview can take, but most follow a similar structure. Typically, an interview begins with introductions and the exchange of pleasantries. Next, the interviewer begins asking questions about the interviewee’s work history and professional capabilities. Then, the interviewer may provide information about the role, its responsibilities and the next steps of the hiring process. Finally, the interviewee is encouraged to ask questions before the interview comes to a close.
How long should a typical job interview take?
Generally speaking, in-person job interviews typically last between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the specific industry and the number of questions asked. Telephone and video interviews are usually shorter in nature, as they are often pre-interviews prior to in-person meetings.
What is the purpose of a second or third interview?
Follow-up or subsequent interviews are sometimes required prior to onboarding new hires when an applicant initially meets with an HR representative or an assistant manager who doesn’t have the final say in hiring. When a second interview is requested, it’s usually conducted by the initial interviewer’s supervisor or additional team members. However, this can vary depending on the company.