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Job interviews can occur in many different formats. Interviews can be conducted in-person, over the phone, or via video chat (Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.). For in-person interviews, there are a number of formats that can be used – panel, group, one-on-one, and multiple one-on-one interviews. Some companies also conduct working interviews.

In addition to differing formats, job interviews can be conducted at many different times and locations. A company that runs on shifts, for example, may find that the best time to conduct an interview is midnight if they are hiring for the night shift. A company hiring for a position that is currently filled by an employee being let go may want to do the interview at a location other than the home office to preserve confidentiality.

The optimal interview format, along with the best interview time and location, will depend on a wide variety of factors – your business, the candidate, the job duties and/or work environment for the position being filled, how much you want to learn about the candidate during the interview, availability of interviewers, timeframe for the hiring process, number of stakeholders involved in the hiring decision, etc. Given that each business, job position and candidate is different, there really is no one-size-fits-all strategy for interviewing prospective employees. Most companies, in fact, use multiple interviews and multiple formats in their hiring process. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each interview format in order to help you decide which approach is right for your business in any given situation.

Phone Interviews

The candidate and interviewer conduct the interview over the phone. This type of interview is usually just the first step in the hiring process and typically does not result in a job offer.

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Video Interviews

The candidate and the interviewer conduct the interview over video chat (Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.). This type of interview is usually just the first step in the hiring process and typically does not result in a job offer.

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In-Person One-On-One Interviews

The candidate is interviewed by a single interviewer. A single one-on-one interview may be too limited in scope for a company to make a proper hiring decision. Companies often perform multiple one-on-one interviews so that the perspectives of all those who have a vesting interest in making a good hire can be included in the decision-making process.

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In-Person Panel Interviews

The candidate is interviewed by a panel containing those company members who have a vested interest in making a good hiring decision. When using this format, make sure to introduce each one of the interviewers to the candidate at the beginning of the interview. Each interviewer on the panel typically takes their turn to ask a question, with the opportunity to dig a little deeper with follow up questions. A section of time towards the end of the interview is typically allotted for interviewers to ask any questions which have been inspired by the interview dialog.

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In-Person Group Interviews

Multiple candidates are interviewed at the same time. Often, a group interview will begin with a short presentation about the company, allowing candidates to get a better feel for whether they want to work there. This type of interview is often used as a screening tool to quickly thin down a large applicant pool to a smaller group of promising candidates.

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Working Interviews

In some cases, an employer may feel that a verbal interview does not provide all the information they need to make a decision on a candidate. An employer interviewing for a technical position, for example, may want to see first-hand if the candidate can perform the job duties for the position successfully. In such a situation, the employer may ask the candidate to do a working interview. A working interview is like a candidate’s first day on the job – the employer has the candidate perform actual job duties for several hours, or even an entire day.

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Conclusion

No one interview format is necessarily any better than another. It is really just a matter of choosing the best format to meet your needs in a given situation. As such, you should carefully consider the pros and cons of each of the different interview formats before deciding how to interview candidates. No matter which format you choose, it is important that the interview is carefully planned, and that all interviewers understand the position they are hiring for inside and out. The work you do to plan and conduct an effective interview is a critical part of selecting the best person for the job, and ultimately the success of your company.

Astrix Technology Group is a technical consulting and staffing firm focused on serving the scientific community.  With offices throughout the United States, Astrix is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality and service.