Interviews: Techniques to get the best from a candidate

How the right approach to interviews can help your business attract and retain talent

There is no single best way to interview a candidate. Ultimately, all the factors that come together depend on who is conducting the interview, who is being interviewed, and what the job role is. Preferences are entirely subjective. However, there are techniques which can be applied to the process to make it more effective for everyone involved.

So, which are the most effective interview techniques?

Recruiters conduct interviews with prospective candidates every day and, therefore, have invaluable experience in getting the best from candidates. So, we spoke to Talent Works’ own Lead Resourcing Partner, Amanda Harrison. She told us about the interview techniques she uses and how best to implement them into the process.

There are two main interview techniques Amanda discussed. These are competency-based interviews and emotional intelligence (EQ) interviews.

Competency-based Interviews

Competency-based questions are designed to test the candidates’ skills and, of course, their competency. These questions should give hiring managers an idea of the candidates’ ability to complete the role in the future and predict how they might react in certain situations. Competency-based questions ask candidates to reflect on how they’ve approached previous situations they’ve encountered in the workplace. They aim to assess their ability to work in a team, communicate and organise, amongst other things.

As a result, competency-based questions do tend to be generalised towards skills that are required for all jobs. However, they can be honed and made more specific depending on the job role.

Emotional intelligence interviews

Emotional intelligence (EQ) interview questions are designed to assess a candidates’ ability to understand themselves and the people around them. This gives the interviewer insight into whether the candidate is a cultural fit.

People with high emotional intelligence are more likely to be better team players, thus enhancing work relationships and performance. To assess this, an interviewer might ask who the candidate is inspired by. Or, what they have achieved that they are proud of and how they deal with stressful situations. For questions such as these, there is no right answer, but answers should give an insight into who the candidate really is. The candidates’ ability to self-assess should be a reliable indicator of emotional intelligence.

So, which method is best?

Both methods of interviewing have their downfalls. For example, competency-based questions can sometimes put the candidate on the spot or result in pre-thought out responses. Questions designed to assess emotional intelligence don’t gain the interviewer insight into the candidates’ skills and abilities. So, Amanda recommends a mixture of both techniques to obtain the best understanding of the candidate.

Alongside both types of interview technique, Amanda recommends an informal interview set up. Too much formality tends to put the candidate on edge. Uncomfortable candidates never perform their best or show their real personality. Unless, of course, the role is highly pressured and requires the successful candidate to be able to perform in stressful situations.

Should you be asking candidates to complete a task?

Alongside the interview process, many businesses ask the candidate to complete a task. However, Amanda recommends that tasks are only required when vital for a role. Even then, she suggests that what you ask the candidate to do is kept to a minimum.

When asking candidates to complete skilled work on behalf of your company, you are, effectively, asking them to complete work for free. It is entirely possible to ask candidates to complete a skill-based task which does not take up a significant amount of their time. By not respecting their time and capabilities, you risk putting them off the role and losing out on qualified talent.

Ultimately, the purpose of an interview is to get to know your candidate better and establish that they can undertake the job role effectively. So, utilising interview techniques that allow them to be themselves, while also gaining insight on their skill set, is the most effective way to find the best talent for your business. An interview which combines these techniques to produce the desired result is the best outcome for both your business and the applicant.

Candidates want to feel supported throughout the process. These days, businesses need to implement talent attraction techniques to secure the best people for their roles. A good or bad interview can be the deciding factor for a candidate when choosing whether to work with your company.

So, ensure your approach is both welcoming and comfortable, while also getting to the heart of who the candidate is. After all, you’re not just interviewing them. They are interviewing you.

This is the first blog in our interview series. Keep an eye out for the next blog in the series. We’ll be going into more detail about the benefits of structured, unstructured, formal and informal interviews.