Interview Tips: Will the Real Job Candidate Please Stand Up?

As companies try to diversify their talent and round out their workforce, many find themselves looking for interview tips to help them get more out of the interview process. Even companies that have to fill an immediate opening tomorrow still keep an eye out for the ever-elusive right fit—and they’re hoping the interview gives them clarity.

It would be great to be able to ask job candidates anything that crosses your mind, but as you’re most likely aware, this isn’t possible. In fact, there are very specific limits to the type of questions you can ask, and even the kind of pre-interview research you can do before you meet your candidate face-to-face.

Tips on Interviewing While Staying Compliant

Many of these limits are no-brainers for experienced interviewers: for instance, questions that have to do with political affiliation, race, gender identity, or anything that runs directly up against protected class status are things you generally must avoid.

Does this mean you have to avoid getting to know a person? How does this align with hiring a “culture fit”?

As we’ve written previously, workplace culture, and its role in recruiting and retention, has been trending up for some time. This is especially true in today’s hiring environment, where unemployment is hovering around 4.1%.

For job seekers, the notion of culture has become even more important, especially now that they have more options to choose from. And for many of them, preparing for an interview includes doing sleuth work on your company—assuming they haven’t already. They’ll poke around your social media pages, reach out to current or former employees they know, or even call your customer service line to see how your people treat them.

In the process, they’re most likely doing three things:

  1. Building a composite for who they think you are as a company.
  2. Structuring the case for how and where they’ll fit in.
  3. Considering what professional persona will help them get what they want.

When a job candidate finally gets an interview, it’s only natural that they’ll want to stand out, leave a mark, and find their way to the next round. Our recent Spotlight, “The Interview Process,” offers tips on how to draw out the types of answers you need during an interview. Read it today.

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Interview Tips Diagram Image

These days, with so much focus on culture, companies interview in the hopes of assessing more than just a candidate’s skills, but also getting a glimpse of their personality. Ideally, the answers that a candidate gave on the job application, or during the pre-interview phase, will help you build a skills-based profile of them. However, the interview is the moment to tease other essential information out, and to do so in a way that complies with employment laws.

Interview Tips for Different Personality Types

As an interviewer, how can you accommodate the need to go beyond skills-based questions and answers to get a better sense of who the candidate is?

Having a sense of how different professional personas might play out during an interview can be just as important as following your interview agenda.

Although consistency is important during interviews, getting different types of candidates to answer your questions may require different approaches.

Job seekers can be a funny bunch, especially in today’s hiring environment. With this in mind, we’ve identified four common personality types that frequently show up during interviews. Recognizing them is one thing. Moving applicants beyond their comfort zone might help you gain the insight you need to discover other aspects of their professional personas.

  1. Poker Face

 Poker Face keeps pretty cool, and might even have more questions than answers to start. You get the sense that Poker Face either has other places to be, or might want you to believe they do. And maybe it’s true: many Poker Faces are employed, or they know where they stand in the market. Either way, they can be projecting their confidence through calm.

A few ways to draw them out and get them to let their guard down:

  • Invite a question from them, or engage them in follow-up questions.
  • Rather than answer one of their questions off the bat, offer that you’ll come back to it at the end of the meeting.
  • Challenge them to offer more details on one of their answers, especially if they seem reluctant to elaborate.
  1. Friend/Frenemy

At first, it’s easy to love Friend/Frenemy. They’re charming, cheery, and supportive with the right amount of self-effacement. You can picture them being very well liked around the workplace. But soon, some begin to stray into Frenemy territory. Their answers turn into humble brags, and every answer they give out seems intended to amplify their accomplishments.

One way to help you get a clearer picture is to move your questions toward collaboration, such as:

  • How do they acknowledge a job well-done by others?
  • Do they tend to take the lead in groups?
  • What approaches do they take to build consensus among others?
  1. Team Players

 Speaking of building consensus, Team Players like to keep things congenial and group oriented. They often defer to coworkers, and have a knack for creating big picture answers around the workplace. And while consensus builders are great, some Team Players get so caught in propping others up that they inadvertently dim their own light.

To bring them out of the dark:

  • Ask about a time when they felt isolated in their work.
  • Move the conversation toward what it means to get support from coworkers, managers, or someone in the workflow.
  • See how comfortable they are talking about a work situation where a lack of teamwork was a challenge for them, and how they overcame this situation.
  1. Drivers

Drivers are all about purpose. They come across as prepared, polished, and maybe even a little self-possessed. In a fast-moving business, Drivers may be exactly who you need: someone who knows what to say and how to say it for the best effect. But while everything that flows from their mouth seems spot on, what about their ears?

Here are a few ways to test a Driver’s listening skills:

  • Reframe a new question around something the candidate shared earlier, and see where they go with their follow-up response.
  • After an answer, give them a chance to expand their thinking, and see how far they take it. This can help you push past a soundbite.
  • Similarly, ask them to expand on something that you or another member of your interview team may have shared. See if they run with the answer, or need to loop back to get clarity.

As the interview moves on, you and your candidate will undoubtedly pass in and out of any number of conversation threads. As you get beyond any default personality type the candidate might have entered the room with, you can gain a clearer sense of what the candidate can bring to the job, as well as your company’s culture.


It’s natural for job candidates to want to stand out, especially during an interview. With myStaffingPro’s applicant tracking system as a hub of information, you can review information, and refresh your understanding of job candidates at any time.

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