5 Types of Interviews to Help You Find the Right Hire

Recruiting and hiring is one of the most important, if not THE most important part, of running a business. The significance of the right hire compounds in a hyper-growth environment. An advisor once told me, “90% of all venture-backed startups fail. Companies fail not because of the hires they didn’t make, but because of the hires they did make.”

And the cost of a bad hire is significant, with some estimates putting the figure at nearly $240,000. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, has even said that bad hires have cumulatively cost his business over $100 million. I’ve found that having a structured interview laid out in advance helps make interviews more efficient, gets answers from the candidate that are relevant and insightful, and makes the time invested more productive. 

And luckily, there are several different types of interviews that we choose from to ensure we’re getting the information we need from the candidate. Here, I’ll share some of the most common types. 

Phone or Video Interview

This type of interview generally serves as a first pass or screening opportunity. It’s a useful way to gauge a candidate’s interest and verify information like their availability or salary expectations. This way, you can identify which candidates you want to bring in for in-person interviews and narrow your pool to only the most qualified candidates, saving your team time down the road. 

Leveraging technology can also help you minimize expenses involved in interviewing candidates who may be from out of town. 

Phone Interview Tips: 

  • Schedule the interview in advance — don’t just call the candidate out of the blue. Give them time to prepare and present their best to you. 
  • Be prepared to give the candidate information about the role, including potential start date, salary range, and high-level tasks and deliverables. 
  • If possible, default to a video interview so you can make eye contact with the candidate and read their body language (and they can read yours).

Technical Interview

Types of interviews: Man supervises interviewee working on computer

As the name suggests, a technical interview is a way for the candidate to demonstrate their mastery of specific technical skills. This type of interview is typically a rigorous one, requiring the candidate to show their coding skills, knowledge of technical languages, or understanding of specific tools or systems. It will give you a sense of their problem-solving skills and thought process. It also allows you to see how they translate your requirements in a technical way.

Technical Interview Tips:

  • Provide the candidate with the tools they need to adequately perform the tasks. You could provide them with a whiteboard to use, or a spare laptop.
  • Allow a realistic amount of time for the candidate to complete the task. Don’t use this as a way to push them to see how quickly they can code, or overload them with unrealistic tasks. 
  • Provide feedback on their final product. If there are problems with the code, or their responses weren’t what you were looking for, be honest and let them know where they missed the mark. This helps them to improve their work in the future, but also helps you to remain focused on precisely what you’re looking for in a candidate. 

Behavioral Interview 

Past performance is typically the best indicator of future performance. For that reason, behavioral interviews are among the most common. And for good reason — this type of interview can often feel like a normal conversation, but the questions you ask will give you specific insight into the candidate’s experience, success, strengths, and weaknesses. 

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, the answers to “behavioral interview questions should provide verifiable, concrete evidence as to how a candidate has dealt with issues in the past. This information often reveals a candidate’s actual level of experience and his or her potential to handle similar situations in your organization.” 

The best behavioral interview questions are ones that ask the candidates to tell you a story. Instead of letting them answer with a simple “yes” or “no,” they have to give you more details about the situation they faced, the steps and action they took, and the results of those actions.This type of answer will give you insight into their past successes and struggles, providing you with a well-balanced view of the candidate.

Behavioral Interview Tips:

  • Identify the skills, knowledge, and competencies that are needed to be successful in this position, then create questions that will demonstrate if the candidate has those. 
  • In answering these types of questions, the candidate should ideally give you real-life examples from their experiences. Be prepared to ask follow-up questions or do a bit more probing for candidates who may not be as open as others. 

Panel Interview

Four people interviewing one man

If your team is highly collaborative, or if this new position will involve working across functions, you may want to consider a panel interview. A panel interview will allow you to get several different people in the room at the same time.

The benefit of this type of interview is that you’ll have a chance to see how the candidate presents themselves in a group situation. You’ll also reduce the risk of personal biases creeping into your decision-making process, as each panelist will observe different characteristics and strengths in each candidate. 

This type of interview is always part of our own process!

Panel Interview Tips:

  • Recognize that these types of interviews can add a level of anxiety for many candidates. Do what you can to make the experience as welcoming as possible to put the candidate at ease. 
  • Decide in advance who will lead the discussion, what questions will be asked, and who will ask them. 

Case Interview

The case interview is becoming more and more common. It was originally used in professional service firms or for partner-track positions. A case interview would be ideal for a position with broad impact, one that is more consultative or analytical in nature, or one that provides support to upper management. 

In this type of interview, you’ll present the candidate with a business scenario and ask them to either solve it or provide their insight. There’s no right or wrong answer to case interview questions. Focus on the candidate’s ability to analyze and understand the situation.

Case Interview Tips:

  • Give the candidate the scenario and question in advance so they can adequately research, prepare, and write their case response. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask probing or follow-up questions after hearing their response. This will give you a chance to dig into any lingering questions you might have, or draw out some more depth in their answers.

Conduct the Best Types of Interviews

Types of interviews: Woman shakes hands with man

With a little bit of thought, preparation, and planning, you can ensure that your interview process is efficient and fair. As a recruiter or hiring manager, you may do all of these types of interviews in the search for the best candidate. Whether you conduct a face-to-face interview or stick to Skype, these interview types will provide helpful structure for your conversation.

Part of the search includes relying on partners like Searchlight to reduce bias, validate the predictive data you gathered in the interview, and conduct strategic background checks. Armed with this, you’ll have a greater chance of making the strongest possible hire.

Want to hire more high performers and increase retention?

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