Interview Methods

by Ruth Mayhew ; Updated September 26, 2017

An employer's recruitment and selection process is the first stage in attracting and retaining qualified applicants and productive employees. Varied interview methods can simplify the hiring process and identify the most suitable candidates. Recruiters and employment specialists use numerous interview methods such as prescreening, behavioral and situational questioning as well as panel interviews and selection.

Preliminary Screening

Recruiters generally conduct preliminary screening interviews via telephone. Preliminary screening streamlines the employment process by saving the time and expense of conducting face-to-face interviews with dozens, hundreds or perhaps thousands of applicants who may not all have the requisite qualifications for each job. During a telephone interview, the recruiter or employment specialist typically asks if the applicant has a continued interest in the job and, if so, follows basic questions that verify work history, expertise and qualifications. Recruiters use the results from preliminary interviews to narrow the field of qualified candidates to invite for a personal interview.

Behavioral Interview Methods

Behavioral interview question methods provide insight into a candidate's ability to manage workplace issues that require job competency, problem-solving and negotiation skills. Examples of behavioral interview questions are: "Describe a time when you had to improve employee motivation to reduce your department's turnover percentage" and "How would you resolve interpersonal conflict between two high-performing employees who have to work together on a team project?" Recruiters use behavioral interview questions as a guide to predicting future performance because past practices can be indicators of future performance. In addition, behavioral interview questions require that candidates demonstrate their verbal communication skills.

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Situational Interview Methods

Situational interview questions are reserved for jobs that require functional expertise. Clinical health care and technology jobs are among those best suited for this type of interview method. Recruiters develop questions that require candidates to demonstrate their functional expertise through describing the process they'd use in certain job situations. For example, the situational interview method for a registered nurse candidate might require him to explain the process for diagnosing patient conditions using telemetry analysis. Telemetry analysis is a technologically advanced method for cardiology patient care.

Panel Interview Method

Generally, a group of managers or supervisors who are well-versed in interview practices participate on a panel for interviewing candidates. They are provided a set of questions they ask in round-robin fashion. For every response the candidate provides, panel members note their individual perceptions. Some panel interviews use a scoring process to determine the most suitable candidate. The candidate with the highest average score is selected to receive the job offer. Panel interviews that combine scoring with panel discussions are most effective.

Stress Interview Method

Stress interviews aren't the most commonly used interview methods; however, they can be helpful in some job selection processes. Candidates are asked to perform a task as they would in the regular performance of the job duties. An example of a stress interview is delivering a speech or presentation. For stress interviews, recruiters or hiring managers provide a candidate with a scenario or set of circumstances and require that candidate perform with or without preparation. Performing without the benefit of preparation adds to the stress factor of this interview method.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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