Recruitment Interviews: Traditional Interview and Behavioral Interviews Discussed

Recruitment Interviews: Traditional Interview and Behavioral Interviews Discussed
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Traditional Face-to-Face Interview

The traditional face-to-face interview is the most common of the recruitment interviews. This method entails an one-to-one conversation between the candidate and the company’s representative, usually the human resource personnel. The objectives of such interviews include:

  • assessing the candidate’s personality, communication skills and test his or her basic knowledge
  • probing into achievements and accomplishments mentioned in the resume and delving in-depth into skills or experience listed in the resume relevant to the job in question
  • understanding the candidate’s outlook and orientation and evaluating if the candidate is a fit to the organizational culture

HR managers assess the candidate based on the level of knowledge displayed by the candidate, and on visual cues such as eye contact, type of speech, and the general rapport the candidate establish.

Traditional recruitment interviews are either structured or unstructured. A structured interview entails the interviewer preparing a list of questions and asking the same set of questions to all candidates to compare and rate the answers. Unstructured interview is more of the conversational type, where the interviewer asks questions based on the candidate’s background, and where one answer leads to another question.

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Screening and Follow Up Interviews

Screening interviews are a watered down form of the traditional face-to-face interview, aimed at eliminating candidates and preparing a short-list rather than selecting candidates for the job. The HR representative match the resume with the skills and experience listed in the job specification, short-listing the candidates that match the required specifications, and eliminating the one’s that do not match the required specifications.

Screening interviews serve to clarify doubts or grey areas in the resume, make a rough assessment of the genuinely of the claims, and provide candidates with an opportunity to present their case before elimination.

Follow-up recruitment interviews are the opposite of screening interviews, usually conducted to collect additional information from candidates cleared for the job. Follow up interviews focus on cross-verifying facts mentioned in the resume, verifying candidate’s education and experience, and the like. It also includes salary negotiation to fix the salary, clarification of work rules and conditions, and other similar factors.

Behavioral Interview

Behavioral interview is a specialized form of face-to-face interview conducted under the premise that past behaviors best predict future actions. The major advantage of behavioral interview is that it force candidates to answer based on facts rather than on hypothesis. For instance, a question “how will you react if…” is a hypothetical question and irrelevant in ascertaining the worth of an employee. On the other hand, “Describe how you approached a situation in the past when a customer shouted at you” help determine the behavioral orientation of the person.

The increasing dominance of the behavioral approach to human resource management has raised the status of behavioral interview as an effective selection tool in recent times.

Critical Incident Interview, Stress Interview and Lunch/Dinner Interviews are three close variants of the behavioral interview.

  • Critical incident interview is a closely related type of interview. Here, the interviewer gives the candidate a critical situation or incident concerning the job in question, and seeks from the candidate the way he or she plans to approach the situation. This gives an insight into the candidate’s analytical abilities, conceptual knowledge, thought process, and behavioral orientation.
  • Stress Interview is a type of face-to-face behavioral interview where the interviewer deliberately creates a pressure situation for the candidates to see how they cope with the pressure or react to unexpected situations. Ways by which the interviewer creates stress include by making sarcastic comments, by being argumentative, by being kept waiting, and the like.
  • Lunch or dinner interview aims at putting the candidate at ease in an informal setting and delve into their etiquettes and behaviors by studying their responses in a natural setting.

Technical Interview

Recruitment Interviews

The technical interview seeks to ascertain the candidate’s technical ability.

One popular form of technical recruitment interviews is the case interview is when the interviewer gives the candidate a specific case to solve during the interview session. This helps in ascertaining the candidate’s problem solving skills under time pressure or with limited resources.

A popular method of conducting technical interviews is over the telephone, IM, or video conferencing, primarily to cater to the convenience of the candidates at distant locations. Phone interview however faces a serious drawback of the interviewer not understanding the candidate’s pulse or visual cues. It would also not be clear who actually answers the question or whether someone nearby helps the candidate. Firms therefore usually conduct a regular face-to-face interview if the candidate passes the short-list.

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Panel of Committee Interview

A panel of committee interview serves the same purpose of a traditional face-to-face interview of any type, with the only difference being the presence of more than one interviewer to interview the candidate. The interview panel consists of anywhere from two to ten interviews, and invariably involves:

  • a human resource representative to assess the behavioral orientation of the candidate
  • a technical expert, either from the department that requires the person, or an external resource person to ascertain the technical competency of the candidate

Panel interviews allow combining different interviews such as behavioral interview, technical interview, stress interview, and others into a single session. With a multiple assessors, the chances of bias reduce considerably, allowing for a more objective candidate rating.

Group Interview

A group discussion is a different type of the recruitment interviews, and popular for positions requiring interpersonal and leadership skills

The interviewer gives a topic to a group of six to ten candidates seated in a circle. The candidates discuss the topic among themselves for a predetermined period. The interviewer is a passive observer, making observation regarding the quantity and quality of each candidate’s inputs, the ability of the candidate to seize the initiative, the ability to convince others to their point of view, and the extent to which they accommodate other’s view, or change their opinions if corrected.


USC Career Planning & Placement Center. The Interview-Different Types. Retrieved from