The interview is one of the most important steps in the talent acquisition process. It’s where you determine whether or not a candidate is a solid fit for your organization and the position you’re trying to fill. But how do you ensure that you are conducting an effective interview?
Talking to a candidate one-on-one isn’t the only way to interview, after all. There are a ton of different interview techniques, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Today, we’re going to briefly discuss each one.
Before we do, however, there are a few caveats. First, we won’t be covering informational interviews, as that technique is primarily interviewee-focused. Second, we’re going to be focused on interview techniques rather than interview formats—for the most part, the types of interviews discussed here can be applied equally to in-person, virtual, and phone interviews.
So with all that established, here are the pros and cons of each main interview style.
1. Panel Interviews
In a panel interview, there’s more than one interviewer. Typically, the panel will consist of the hiring manager alongside several decision-makers connected to the role being filled. Although they may occasionally be led by a single person, normally it’s a group effort.
Pros of Panel Interviews:
- Each interviewer can cover a different aspect of the candidate assessment.
- Diverse panels reduce the likelihood of a hire being influenced by personal bias.
- Candidates are given a more complete picture of the company and its culture, as they get to meet multiple decision-makers.
- For positions where multiple interviews are required, this technique can save time by bundling them together.
Cons of Panel Interviews:
- One person may dominate the interview, meaning others don’t get to ask their questions.
- Panel interviews can be intimidating to prospective candidates.
- Because there are more people involved, they’re more difficult to coordinate and schedule.
- May cause a decrease in overall productivity, as multiple leaders are not at their usual place of work.
2. One-on-One Interviews
An individual interview is one of the most tried-and-true techniques, and also one of the simplest. The candidate meets with a single interviewer, usually for up to an hour, during which they’re asked a series of questions about their background, experience and what they’ll bring to the new job.
Pros of One-on-One Interviews:
- More efficient than other styles.
- Highly flexible—the interviewer has total freedom to conduct the interview as they see fit.
- Tend to be cost-effective, as they don’t require many stakeholders to participate.
Cons of One-on-One Interviews:
- Subject to individual bias.
- An inexperienced interviewer may find it difficult to glean an accurate assessment.
- Not well-suited for a hiring process that requires input for multiple stakeholders.
3. Competency-Based Interviews
A competency-based interview consists of a structured series of questions intended to determine whether or not a candidate has the necessary skills for a position.
Pros of Competency-Based Interviews:
- Allows interviewers to directly assess candidates based on skill set.
- Reduces personal bias through objective comparisons.
Cons of Competency-Based Interviews:
- May make it difficult to get to know a candidate on a personal level.
- Often overemphasizes past performance.
- Can favor candidates that overstate their own performance, while being unnecessarily challenging to those without high self-confidence.
4. Technical Interviews
Technical interviews are similar to competency-based interviews in that they measure a candidate’s knowledge and skill set. The main difference is that technical interviews are more focused on problem-solving. Instead of answering questions, candidates may be required to complete an assignment, assessment, or series of tasks.
Pros of Technical Interviews:
- Can be easily automated.
- Removes human bias from the interview process.
- Can be easily combined with other interview types for a more comprehensive and holistic approach.
Cons of Technical Interviews:
- Don’t generally account for real-world environments and scenarios.
- Only applicable to certain industries and roles (IT, engineering, software development, design, etc.).
5. Behavioral Interviews
A behavioral interview is like a less-structured competency-based interview. It’s intended to help an organization assess a candidate based on who they are in a professional context—how they think, act, and react.
Pros of Behavioral Interviews:
- More comfortable and approachable for candidates.
- Allows interviewers to gain a better idea of a candidate’s personality.
- Helps determine whether a candidate will be a good cultural add for an organization.
Cons of Behavioral Interviews:
- Requires extensive training time and preparation for interviewers.
- Easy for candidates to prepare for in advance, which may impact the authenticity of the interview.
- Questions are highly detailed and open-ended, and the interview can take much longer as a result.
6. Group Interview
While a panel interview consists of multiple interviewers, a group interview typically consists of multiple candidates with a single interviewer.
Pros of Group Interviews:
- Efficient, allowing the assessment of multiple candidates at the same time.
- Allows interviewers to see which candidates work well with others.
- Provide insight into who’s a decent fit for a company’s culture.
- Shows who performs well under stress.
Cons of Group Interviews:
- May create a sense of competition that mars the accuracy of the interview process.
- Can be easy to lose control of the discussion.
- Certain candidates may dominate the interview in spite of being less qualified.
- Limited in the questions one can ask.
7. Assessment Days
An assessment day is a highly involved, multi-stage interview process with multiple interviewers and candidates. It typically consists of a series of exercises, tasks and presentations, often followed by an interview at the end.
Pros of Assessment Days:
- Provides a more accurate, reliable assessment of candidates.
- Differentiates between similar candidates.
- Gives candidates insight into the company and the role.
- Allows interviewers to judge employee performance “in the wild.”
Cons of Assessment Days:
- Costly and time-consuming.
- Can alienate candidates with less dominant personalities, who may find themselves drowned out or overlooked.
- Incredibly challenging to administer, requiring extensive training and expertise.
Which Interviewing Technique Should You Use?
Ultimately, there’s no universally “best” interview style. Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks, and an interview that works in one scenario might not work in another. The best advice we can give is to choose the technique that will give you the most well-rounded idea of each candidate’s skills, abilities and personality. Remember, you don’t need to choose just one style.
Lastly, you should always be open to reassessing how you interview. If you need any assistance in that regard, we can help—check out SocialTalent’s interviewing training to see how.
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