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There are many ways to conduct interviews today- and plenty of available "proof" of why you should use each. There are semi-structured, structured, and unstructured (or non-directive) interviews. There are also behavioral, technical, group, and panel interviews. Let's not forget face-to-face (in-person) and remote (online) interviews. But the question is which one will get the best results?
There are also hundreds of competitors in the recruitment marketplace. Each one with its own favored interview style- and, most rely on different datasets to prove that their option is "the best."
So how do you know which one is right for you? The answer- it depends.
As a recruiter or hiring manager, you need to consider many factors such as the role, the industry, and your company culture when determining the best interview approach. However, one thing that can consistently improve your interviews is using an interview template.
An interview template is a structured process or guide that helps ensure consistency and efficiency in your interviews. It also creates equity and objectivity... but more on that later. The interview template can be tailored to fit your open roles and specific needs, but its purpose remains the same- to help you ask the right questions and make informed hiring decisions.
To get the best results, it's helpful for the candidate to understand your expectations for the interview before they join your meeting room or jump on a call with you. This means sending them an interview invitation. A great invitation for an interview template would be:
Interview Invitation Template:
Hi [Candidate Name],
My name is [Name], and I'm excited to invite you for an interview. I reviewed your resume, LinkedIn profile, and application and believe you have the skills we need for the [Position].
As part of our hiring process, we use an interview template to ensure consistency and efficiency in our interviews. This also helps us make objective and fair hiring decisions for all of our applicants.
During this interview, we'll discuss:
- Specifics about the company and the role
- How your experience has prepared you for the role
- Insights into the company culture and compensation
Finally, I will be glad to address any questions you may have. The interview is expected to last approximately [insert time] and will be conducted via [insert platform].
Please choose one of the following options:
- Option 1: [Day, Date, Time]
- Option 2: [Day, Date, Time]
- Option 3: [Day, Date, Time]
Once you've selected a day and time, please reply to this email with your choice and we'll send you an official calendar invite with the final details.
I am looking forward to speaking with you and learning more about how your skills and experiences could contribute to our team. If you have any questions or concerns before the interview, don't hesitate to reach out.
[Your Contact Information]
This is a very simple job interview template email that you can send to your candidates to prepare them for a screening or interview. If you're a Pillar customer, our interview intelligence software does this for you. Automating candidate/ interviewer introduction emails and interview scheduling so you can focus on relationships with the candidates not handling mundane tasks.
Before we get into a structured interview template, let's talk about the three types of interviews, structured, semi-structured, and unstructured. Structured interviews are pre-planned and have a set list of questions. These interviews provide consistency in the questions asked and allow for easier comparison of candidates. A structured interview template includes:
- Introduction: This is the opening of the interview, where you introduce yourself and set a positive tone.
- Company and role overview: Give a brief overview of your company, its culture, and the specific role the candidate is interviewing for.
- Skills assessment: Ask questions related to the required skills for the role and how the candidate's experience aligns with them.
- Behavioral questions: These questions aim to understand how the candidate has handled certain situations in past roles, providing insight into their behavior and problem-solving skills.
- Cultural fit assessment: It's important to assess if the candidate will fit in with your company culture. Ask questions about their values and work style to determine if they align with your company's.
- Time for candidate questions: Give the candidate time to ask any questions they have about the role or the company. This allows you to gauge their level of interest and address any concerns they may have.
As you can see, there is a defined structure to follow at each step so it's a great interview template for managers who are being pulled in many directions.
Semi-structured interviews have some planned questions but also allow for far more flexibility in the conversation. A semi-structured interview would look more like:
- Introduction, company, and role.
- Skills assessment: Ask a few key questions related to the role's required skills.
- Behavioral questions: Ask for specific examples of past experiences that relate to the role.
- Time for candidate questions.
Unstructured interviews have no set plan or list of questions. They rely heavily on conversation and allow for a more relaxed and fluid interview experience. While this may be a more natural way of building relationships, it's far from the best way to conduct an interview. Unstructured interviews can lead to inconsistent evaluation and subjective decision-making.
The best way to ensure fairness and objectivity in your interviews is by using either a semi-structured or a structured interview template, like the one we outlined above. This approach allows you to ask all candidates the same questions, making it easier to compare their answers and make informed hiring decisions based on objective data rather than subjective opinions.
Phone screens are much the same way. A good phone screen interview template follows the same structured principles but there's a bit less pressure since you're not face to face with the candidate. A benefit of using phone screens for your initial interview is that you can use an interview questions template with scoring next to each question without the candidate being distracted by you writing things down.
Phone screen interview template questions could differ slightly from structured interview questions since you're just making a pre-qualification decision. What are the 1- 3 characteristics or skills this candidate must possess to be effective in the role? Introduce yourself, the company, and the role, and ask a few questions related to their skills and experience- if they qualify, then inquire about their availability for an in-person or virtual interview at a later date.
This simplifies the process and gives you time and bandwidth to focus on building relationships with the candidates who make it to the next round of interviews. Using an interview template for managers ensures consistency, efficiency, and better hiring decisions.
Once they've arrived at the first official interview, hopefully, they've done their research, been qualified by HR or a recruiter for the role, and they're excited to meet your team. Now it's time for you, as the hiring manager, to showcase your skills and expertise in conducting an effective interview.
Using a structured or semi-structured interview template can help you stay organized and focused during the interview and ensure that all candidates are given equal opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. This is especially important when interviewing for a high-level or specialized role, as you want to make sure that all candidates are evaluated fairly and accurately.
An interview template for hiring managers would follow the same structure as mentioned previously, but may also include additional sections such as:
- Technical skills assessment: For roles that require specific technical skills, it can be helpful to include a section in the interview template specifically for assessing these skills. This allows you to gather more data on the candidate's technical abilities and make a more informed decision.
- Team fit evaluation: In addition to cultural fit, it's important to assess how well a candidate will fit into your team dynamic. This can be done through questions about their communication style, conflict resolution skills, and ability to work collaboratively with others.
- Compensation discussion: If appropriate, you may want to include a section in your interview template for discussing compensation expectations and negotiating a fair salary for the candidate. This can help avoid any misunderstandings or surprises later on in the hiring process.
By using an interview template for hiring managers, you can ensure that all candidates are given equal opportunity, make more informed decisions based on objective data, and ultimately hire the best fit for your team and company.
So, whether you're conducting phone screens or in-person interviews, using a structured or semi-structured interview template is the best way to conduct efficient, fair, and effective interviews.
If you'd like to see more interview templates for employers check out our blog. It's full of resources to help you make better hires, faster, and for less. Our interview intelligence software is helping companies cut hiring costs, lower turnover, and hire great teams! But don't just take our word for it—see it in action by booking your demo of Pillar today.