Pin Me

Interviewing Potential Employees: Which Method Works Best?

written by: •edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 9/14/2011

Asking the right questions of an applicant can mean the difference between hiring someone who has loads of experience and someone who has had a lot of jobs. Not sure which technique you should incorporate? Find out about various options and why you might --or might not-- want to use them.

  • slide 1 of 3

    Screening Potential Candidates

    Smiling Woman Busy Over Phone There are a few employer methods for interviewing that you can use prior to an actual traditional meeting. These pre-interviews help you determine whether a candidate meets at least the minimum requirements for the position for which you are hiring. Performing these screening interviews can save both you and the applicant time and frustration. Choosing the best technique depends on several factors, such as where you will perform the screening, your urgency in filling the position and the number of qualified applicants you are considering.

    Telephone interviews are somewhat lengthy phone conversations, typically lasting anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, during which the interviewer will ask questions and gather information from the candidate. While you may call an applicant and ask if he can participate in an interview immediately, setting up an agreeable time will allow you both to prepare, providing the best results. Inquire about the applicant's experience, request further details regarding information on an application or résumé and obtain any other particulars you will need to determine whether you wish to bring him in for a face-to-face interview.

    Group interviews can be beneficial if you have a large number of qualified candidates or are seeking to fill multiple positions. Interviewing applicants in a group allows you to determine those that stand out, have the best communication and leadership skills, and how well they interact with peers. You may wish to begin the interview with a presentation about your company followed by a question and answer session. If it will aid in your hiring decisions, you may also want to divide the group into smaller teams and ask them to work together to complete a task.

    Impromptu interviews are ideal to use during job fairs, when a potential candidate walks in with a résumé or any time an opportunity presents itself. Unlike telephone or group interviews, you may not be able to take many notes during these spur of the moment meetings, so ask questions with direct answers that you are likely to recall later. Remember, this type of interview is primarily intended to screen an applicant; you can delve deeper at a sit-down meeting in the future, should you choose to do so.

  • slide 2 of 3

    Get Down to Hiring

    Business People In The Meeting One-on-One interviews are traditional meetings that you hold once you determine you want to know more about an applicant. Be sure to plan ahead so that you can present details on your company and the position in question, and prepare a list of interview questions that will help you make your decision. Review the applicant's résumé or application just before the meeting, so that her experience and other information will be fresh in your memory. Jot down any questions you might have about these details, such as why an answer seemed vague or reasons for leaving a particular position.

    Panel interviews are almost the opposite of a group interview. In these meetings, a group of interested parties from your company or organization, such as someone from HR, the manager of the department with a vacancy and even a well-respected team member. Panel interviews are particularly helpful when hiring for a position in middle management, as that person must work with and report to a number of others, or any position in which the employee will need to work well under pressure and interact appropriately with others. You may wish to give each panel member an amount of time to ask questions, or simply work together, interviewing around the table.

    Structured interviews rely on a standard set of questions that are asked of all applicants in the same order every time. Interviewers rank candidate's on an established scale for the answers given. This type of interview is beneficial if you are responsible for regularly hiring numerous new employees for similar positions, such as in a retail or call center setting.

    Situational interviews enable you to discern how a candidate would handle common occurrences. For instance, you might ask the applicant how he would handle an angry customer. You can also ask the interviewee to provide an example of how he dealt with a specific type of situation in the past. Alternatively, you can integrate situational questions into any other type of interview. Read on for more types of questions that will help you hire the best candidate.

  • slide 3 of 3

    Types of Questions to Ask

    Business Women Welcomed By Her Colleague Closed-ended questions are those that someone can typically answer with a yes, no, or other brief answer. There are times when a closed-ended question is best, such as when you want to clarify the length of employment or other specific details.

    Open-ended questions encourage the candidate to provide more information. For example, you might ask an applicant, "How will our company benefit from hiring you?"

    Questions about specific skills, experience, personality traits and behaviors can help you pinpoint the best candidate for a particular position. You might ask about strengths and weaknesses to determine beneficial characteristics as well as potential issues of which you should be aware. Be sure to avoid asking any questions that could be construed as illegal, though, as this could cause more than simply a bad interview.

    Determining the types of employer methods for interviewing and preparing the questions you want to ask prior to the interview is the key to selecting the best candidate for the position and helping your company grow.

    Please be sure to check out the other tips and strategies found in Bright Hub's HR Guide for Recruiting and Retaining Employees.