When and How to Use Different Interviewing Formats

It’s costly to hire the wrong person—specifically, it costs companies one-fifth of an employee’s salary to replace a person when they leave. And that doesn’t include the loss in productivity, or the decline in company morale, when churn increases. In their attempt to avoid making a bad hire, organizations have created longer interview processes, with more meetings and steps along the way. If you’re part of the hiring decision, this recruiting process may seem daunting, so we’ve created a guide for what interview practices work best, and when to use them.

When To Use Different Interviewing Formats

Video Interviews

More and more companies are replacing the traditional phone screen with literal and figurative face-time. Video interviews feel closer to in-person meetings and give you more insight into a candidate’s personality. That said, audio and video quality can vary depending on your Internet connection, so make sure to conduct interviews in a room that’s quiet, with good lighting and a good Internet connection.

  • When To Use It: Use Google Hangout or Skype screens early in the recruiting process if you want fewer surprises during your in-person or in-office interviews.
  • Watch Out: Any face-to-face interview raises the possibility of bias, so be especially conscious to focus on the candidate’s qualifications, not appearance.

Cross-Functional Interviews

With the rise of cross-functional teams and roles, hiring is becoming a much more collaborative process. Interviews with multiple managers or team members help both your company and the candidate get a feel for the role and how they’ll work together in practice. This also helps the candidate get beyond the job description and understand the business requirements tied to the role.

  • When To Use It: After you’ve vetted the candidate with at least one interview—there’s no point in wasting your colleagues’ time with early-stage candidates.
  • Watch Out: Cross-functional interviews can be time-consuming to schedule and organize. Be sure to have someone on your team own interview logistics.

Test Scenarios

Whether it’s a test or sample project, more companies are testing a candidate’s creativity and capability in real or hypothetical situations.

  • When To Use It: After at least one interview: If candidates aren’t willing to do their homework, they’ll bow out of the interviewing process now. This is a helpful filter for hard workers and good fits for the team. If a candidate is game to complete a scenario, this will give you and your team a glimpse into how a person works. Is their work immediately useful to the team?
  • Watch Out: Test scenarios do require more thought and effort. Your team will need to create a scenario that feels applicable to the team’s daily work, and creates the necessary rubric to evaluate the many projects you’ll receive from candidates. Also make sure that you respect the candidate’s time—they should be able to complete the task in under an hour.

Trial Periods

Congrats! You’ve hired a candidate, but nothing is for certain. Put them to the test with a trial period to make sure they fit the role requirements and work well with the team.

  • When To Use It: Give your team 30 to 60 days to work with a new hire—any major issues should crop up by then.
  • Watch Out: If a new hire turns out to be the wrong fit for the team, it’ll be even more daunting to let a person go and start the recruiting process all over again. The key is to be honest with yourself and your team. Remember that you now have a pipeline of candidates you can likely still reach out to.

Takeaway: A longer vetting process gives candidates more exposure to company culture and ways of working. Use a variety of interviews as a toolkit for assessing your team’s needs and finding the right person to serve them.

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