Interview Styles: Help or Hinder

by EdgeLink on April 1, 2013 in Candidate Interviewing

When it comes to the personal interview, there are a variety of techniques and styles that can be successfully utilized. For the IT candidate marketplace, interviewing can become repetitive and grueling, as very few interviewers effectively discriminate themselves above the masses. The interviewer’s style and technique can significantly influence a candidate’s decision, as the experience is typically their first impression. The technique and style of the interview can make or break a candidate’s decision.

A successful recruiting experience begins with an effective interview. Here are some of the more common interview styles:

Traditional Interview
Most hiring managers employ the traditional interviewing technique at some point in the process. In its most basic form, the interviewer asks the candidate questions about his or her background, and assesses the response to determine qualification for the position. Employers may also incorporate behavioral interviewing strategies into the traditional interview as well to get deeper insight into the candidate’s decision making processes. Open-ended, situational-type questions can elicit responses that reflect leadership, analytical, and problem solving skills. Usually traditional interviews are structured very similar to one another so that the interviewer can easily compare candidates’ responses.

The traditional interview style can be further broken down into sub-categories, and can vary in effectiveness depending on the interviewer’s style.

  • The Menacing Interviewer. Some interviewers prefer to be in the driver’s seat at all times, and want the candidate to know who’s in charge. The intimidating interviewer can intentionally pose difficult or threatening questions to elicit the candidate’s response under stressful situations. This type of interview can be cold and to the point, and are the most likely to scare candidates off.
  • The Junior Interviewer. Many times the recruiter is also the individual responsible for the interview. Junior level recruiters may be nervous and repetitive, and are more likely to flounder when getting into the technical aspects of the questioning. While junior recruiters are effective at bringing the candidate in, let a more experienced member of the team drive the interview.
  • The Relaxed Interviewer. Some interviewers like to fly by the seat of their pants when interviewing candidates, preferring less structure and more improvisation. They tend to create a friendly environment, trying to create camaraderie by gauging candidate’s personal interests. As long as the skills and qualifications are effectively assessed, the candidate will feel relaxed and reflect positively on a more relaxed, personable interview.

The traditional interview is well-received and expected within the IT consulting community as it provides an open exchange between candidate and interviewer, providing information gathering opportunity for both parties.

Telephone Interview
Widely employed as the gateway interview, the phone meeting provides the recruiter an opportunity to flesh out the candidate’s skill, interest, and personality. Again, ensure the phone interview is structured to a tightly managed agenda, and provide the candidate enough time to openly discuss his or her background. Phone interviews should be conducted in a quiet and predictable environment so that the candidate isn’t hit with unexpected distractions. Don’t conduct phone interviews while driving or in the evenings at home if there are too many distractions, such as kids or pets. If done professionally, the phone interview is effective in assessing interest, fit, and whether or not to move to the next phase of the process.

Video Interview
Technology has advanced to the point where people all over the world can easily communicate via videoconferencing. A Skype interview is the most cost effective method for a first “face to face” meeting if the candidate is in another state or country. Before incurring the expense of bringing a candidate in for a personal interview, the video interview is an excellent way to flesh out skill and fit. The video interview presents challenges its own, however, as it’s dependent on technology and is at the mercy of the individual’s Internet connection. Additionally, a teleconference may bring in some unwelcome distractions that exist within the candidate’s environment, such as phones ringing, dogs barking, or birds chirping, to name a few. As with a traditional interview, make sure the meeting is structured to an agenda and that it provides the candidate a sense of professionalism and comfort.

Regardless of the type of interview, candidates should be treated with the highest level of respect and professionalism. Most companies use a combination of interview styles and techniques to create an effective and overall positive experience for everyone involved.