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Interviewing candidates allows you to gather the necessary information to make a hiring decision. It is one of the most important steps in the hiring process.

Continue reading to learn what interviewing is, why it’s so important, what different types of interviews there are, how to conduct an interview and tips on conducting a strong interview.

What Is Interviewing?

Interviewing is the process of communicating with applicants to collect information regarding their ability to successfully complete the demands of the position you’re hiring. Interviewing provides insight into a candidate’s experience, skills and cultural fit — the information necessary to make a hiring decision.

Why Interviewing Is So Important

Interviewing is one of the most important steps of the hiring process. By gathering information about the candidate’s previous experience and cultural fit, interviews directly lead to hiring decisions. There are a few other reasons why interviewing is so important, including:

  • Assessing KSAs. By asking behavioral interview questions, you are able to assess the knowledge, skills and abilities of each candidate.
  • Clarifying a position’s responsibilities. Interviews are beneficial to candidates as well, allowing you to clarify any lingering questions about the responsibilities of the role.
  • Identifying salary requirements. In the interviewing process, you learn about the candidate’s salary requirements and gauge whether the position’s starting salary is within their range.
  • Creating relationships for future openings. Even if a candidate doesn’t make it past the interviewing stage, you can establish a relationship and contact them for open positions in the future.

The Eight Types of Interviews You Might Conduct

Interviewing is a broad term and there are several types of interviews you may conduct throughout the hiring process. Listed below are some of the most common types of interviews.

1. Screening Interview

Typically conducted over phone, video conference or questionnaire, a screening interview is used to screen applicants that meet the minimum requirements on their application and resume.

Conduct this type of interview immediately after reviewing applications and selecting all candidates who meet the minimum requirements.

2. Second Round Interviews

Also referred to as face-to-face interviews, second-round interviews are the official interview for the most qualified candidates that pass the screening interview. Second round interviews are typically held on site, though they can be held virtually using a video conferencing system.

In this type of interview, you ask a series of questions — often using behavioral interviewing techniques — to better assess a candidate’s past experiences and likelihood to succeed in the position you’re hiring for.

This type of interview should be conducted after narrowing down a list of top candidates for the position, before making a hiring decision.

3. Testing Interviews

Testing interviews are interviews where you have the candidate demonstrate the skills and abilities required for the job.

This type of interview should be conducted when you’ve narrowed down a list of top candidates. It can be conducted as the second round interview.

4. Panel Interviews

Panel interviews occur when multiple people from your organization interview one candidate at the same time. This allows multiple stakeholders to ask relevant questions and provide input for the final hiring decision.

Panel interviews are often held after screening interviews and can be conducted as a second round interview.

5. Group Interviews

Group interviews are when two or more candidates interview for a position at the same time. It can often be used as an interview between screening and second round interviews to help narrow down a top list of candidates.

You can also gather information about how candidates will relate to and work with other people on the job.

6. Information Interviews

Information interviews are typically conducted when there are no current openings but the candidate is exploring opportunities in the field. This is an opportunity to find potential candidates for future job openings and can be conducted at any period in time.

7. Meal Interviews

A meal interview is when the interviewer and other stakeholders take the candidate out to lunch or dinner for the interview. Meal interviews are casual but also allow you to gather information about a candidate’s personality.

This type of interview should be conducted when you’ve narrowed down your final list of candidates, as it is more expensive than other interviews.

8. Nondirective Interviews

Nondirective interviews are interviews where the candidate leads the discussion and spends more time talking than the interviewer. The interviewer prepares open-ended questions and the candidate talks.

This type of interview is a good way for the candidate to showcase their ability but lacks the structure to make a quantitative-based decision and leads to more of a “gut feeling” decision.

Nondirective interviews should be conducted as one of the final steps in the hiring process.

How to Conduct an Interview

The way you conduct each interview depends on the specific type and at what stage of the hiring process it takes place. In general, you can take the following steps to conduct a successful interview at any stage.

1. Ease Into The Conversation

Candidates are often nervous about interviews. If you start intense questioning right away, you may intimidate the candidate, not get their best answers and give them a bad candidate experience.

Engage in small talk about the weather, the candidate’s travel to get to the interview or any other relevant topic. This gives the candidate an opportunity to relax and feel more comfortable about the interview.

2. Provide the Interview Agenda

Once the candidate is settled, provide a clear agenda for how the interview will be conducted. This often consists of asking prepared questions, discussing the position and organization, and allowing the candidate to ask any questions they have.

Depending on the type of interview and the industry, you may have additional items on the agenda.

3. Ask Prepared Interview Questions

After providing an overview of the agenda, begin asking your prepared interview questions. Behavioral interviewing questions are often the best way to gauge whether a candidate is likely to succeed in the position. Pay close attention the candidate’s answers, and take good notes.

While the candidate’s answers are important, the way they present those answers can also give you insights into what type of employee they’d be. Abby Olson, VP of training at Crumbl Cookies HQ, recommends, “Pay close attention to their soft skills. What was their body language like when you asked them a difficult question? Did they have an answer immediately, or did they take time to think about how to respond? Did they ask questions back to you in their interview process? What kind of vocabulary did they use?” 

4. Discuss the Position and Organization

Upon the completion of your prepared questions, discuss specific information about the position you’re hiring for and about the organization. This gives the candidate an opportunity to learn more about the position than was included in the job description and get a better idea of the company culture.

Remember that it’s important to find a balance when deciding what to share in an interview setting. Your goal is to be transparent, but you don’t want to overload candidates with unnecessary information.

“You may want to identify specific deal breakers that you want to disclose up front so it doesn’t waste anyone’s time (for example, compensation) and disclose those early. But you may want to hold back on aspects that could scare someone away too early (for example, having conflict on a team that’s being addressed) until later in the interview.” – Tatiyana Cure

5. Allow the Candidate to Ask Questions

When you conclude your portion of the interview, allow the candidate to ask any questions they have. Not only will you clarify any concerns and uncertainties that remain for the candidate, but you can also assess their preparedness and thoroughness through the questions they ask.

6. Provide Clear Next Steps for the Candidate

You don’t want to leave the candidate wondering if and when they will hear back from you. Clearly outline the next steps in the process so they understand what to expect in the days following their interview.

7. Thank the Candidate for Their Time

Even if the candidate doesn’t make it past the interview, you want to create a positive experience for them. Be sure to thank the candidate for their time and let them know you appreciate their interest in the company.

Four Extra Tips for Great Interviewing

Aside from the steps outlined above, here are a few tips that can help you conduct a strong interview.

1. Prepare questions based on hiring criteria. Construct your interview questions around the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) that you want to assess to ensure that you get the most useful information out of the interview.

2. Prepare an agenda for the interview. You don’t want to appear disorganized when conducting an interview with a candidate. Make sure you prepare an agenda that outlines each step of the interview so you get the most out of your time with the candidate.

3. Use the STAR method. The STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It requires candidates to walk you through a past experience, explaining the situation, the tasks involved in their approach to the situation, the actions they took to complete the task and the results of the action they took.

This is one of the most common ways to structure behavioral interviewing questions and assess a candidate’s ability to succeed in the role you’re hiring for.

4. Create an applicant evaluation form. To standardize your evaluation of each candidate, create an applicant evaluation form that you can use when determining the best fit for the position.

Read our Interviewing Techniques article to learn more about how to make your interview process effective.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Interviewing

There are several stakeholders who should be involved in the interviewing process, depending on each unique circumstance. At a minimum, the hiring manager should conduct the interview as they will ultimately make the hiring decision.
There is no set amount of times that you should interview a candidate. However, avoid having them return several times before making a decision.
“This number can vary from position to position and type of interview, but it is always good to have a set standard of questions to pull from in interviews. I like to keep it around 15-20 questions, knowing that candidates may not answer all questions or if we skip some questions based on time. This number is primarily for our final interview with a panel of people. Every person has about 3 or 4 questions to ask based on the role, expectations, and critical thinking abilities. One of my teams even has a set list of questions when there is still time left in the interview. I loved this idea as the answers some candidates give can sometimes be so short, and we can complete the entire interview quickly, if we still want to know more, we have those questions to help in that situation.” – Kelly Loudermilk

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