What Interview Format Will You Follow When You Bring in Your Top Job Candidates?

By the time you’re ready to interview your top job candidates, you’ve probably dedicated quite a bit of energy to reviewing their skills, and understanding how their qualifications will match up with your job opening. And if you’ve been using your applicant tracking system (ATS) as a hub of information, then it’s likely that you’ve built a solid portfolio for each top job candidate that includes their resume, their answers to your pre-interview questions, and even their ranking in your candidate scoring system.

Do you know what format your interview will take?

 Previously, we wrote about creating an interview checklist to help determine what the before, during and after phases of your interview process will look like. As part of the checklist, you’ll want to determine which interview format will help you and your team get the most valuable information out of the experience, as you make your ultimate hiring decision.

Conversational interviews can be great, but they’re not always the best choice.

If you’re hiring an outside sales associate, a trainer, or someone who will be interacting with customers or vendors a lot, then perhaps you’ll want your interview to flow in a conversational, back-and-forth style. This can happen in a one-on-one setting, or in a group.

But what happens if you’re hiring a programmer, data analyst, or any position where technical skills are a candidate’s most important asset? In this case, perhaps a skills-based interview makes more sense.

Or what if you’re working in a stressful, highly collaborative environment, and you need to get a sense of how your candidate solves challenges? It’s one thing for a job candidate to say they thrive under stress. What type of interview can help you see how they respond when things get sticky?


The candidate interview is a critical moment in your hiring workflow, and the stress can be palpable on all sides of the table. In our recent Spotlight, “Interview to Hire,” we offer suggestions designed to help you take things one step at a time, including setting up an interview checklist, prepping your team, following up with candidates and more. Read it today.

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Before you plot and plan the interview format, consider tapping your ATS once again, in order to:

  • review what you know about your candidates,
  • refresh your understanding of them as professionals, and how well you believe each will match up with the job opening, and
  • understand what you still need to uncover.

This information can help support the way you design the actual interview, and determine the format you’ll follow.

 4 Common Interview Formats

  1. One-on-one interview
  2. A one-on-one interview is a chance for a hiring manager or HR lead to sit down with each of your top candidates and build a conversation around the job, their skills, and the direction they envision their career going. While the interview may flow like a conversation, you’ll no doubt have specific questions you’ll want to address in order to gain insight into how prepared they’ll be on day one, not to mention where they’ll be on day 366. And as we’ve written about previously, during this type of interview, you’ll have an opportunity to represent your company’s culture and brand.

  3. Group or panel interview
  4. In a group interview, job candidates will meet with different members of your company. Every group will be different. Some will involve the hiring manager and HR, while others may include co-workers, managers from other departments, or even senior leaders. No matter how you construct your interview panel, one of the overall benefits is that a group interview can help teams form a collective opinion of the job candidate. This can be especially useful in collaborative environments.

  5. Skills interview
  6. Hiring managers may opt for a skills-based interview, or at least a skills portion during a conversational interview, for any number of reasons. For instance, you may want to test a candidate for an open programmer position on how quickly they’ll find an error in a sequence of code. Or you may want to quiz a copyeditor candidate on their knowledge and use of AP style. You can also pair a skills-related task in a group format to see how well a candidate works out a challenge within a team dynamic.

  7. Behavioral interviews
  8. Similar to a skills interview, you may decide to test job candidates on a specific work-related task to solve either on their own, or as part of a group. The difference here is, rather than “grading them” on their ability to solve the challenge, you’re also keeping an eye on how they solve the task. Using our programmer example, in a behavioral interview, you may be less interested in their speed, and more interested in the process they follow to find the error. Or, you may be most interested in whether or not they get flustered if they can’t find an error, the questions they ask during the process, and the confidence with which they communicate their answer.

Remember, no matter what type of interview format you follow, leave room for the candidate to have the floor before it’s over.

It’s likely that your job candidates will want to ask questions before the interview is over. In fact, many employers will gauge a candidate’s prospective fit on the types of questions they ask. It’s possible that questions will come naturally during the interview, especially if you follow a conversational format. However, if this isn’t the case, let your candidates know early on that they’ll have time at the end to ask questions. Then be sure to give them space to ask questions, offer feedback, and inquire about next steps before you wrap up.


As a hub, your applicant tracking system can make it easy to find your top candidates information including resume, score, answers to pre-interview questions, and any notes you added during your candidate search. Staying organized is just one of the many benefits of using myStaffingPro as part of your hiring workflow. Contact a myStaffingPro representative to learn more.

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