Which Interview Style Yields the Best Results?

Structured or Conversational Interview? Which yields the best results?

If you’re not a seasoned interviewer (or sometimes even if you are), it can be hard to decide on the right interview approach to gain the most (or most useful) knowledge from prospective candidates.

Here at Sprint HQ we interview a number of candidates on a weekly basis and each and every interview is different. The style of interview depends largely on the role that we are recruiting for, and the style of the company that we are interviewing the candidate for.

I personally like to make my interviews more conversational as I feel as though I really get to know my candidates that way. After honing my interview technique over the last 6 or so years in the industry I have found that candidates tend to be more truthful about their future plans and objectives when I take this approach. They open up about their personal lives, and I feel that I get a true insight into what company cultures they would perform well in.

This being said, while I like to keep it fairly conversational, that’s not to say that behavioural questioning doesn’t have its place. Asking candidates to provide detailed examples of their experiences is essential to find out if they are simply “talking the talk” or if they actually have the experience that they claim to.

I do like to ask candidates about, their strengths, personality etc. However, I find that that most candidates have pre-rehearsed answers for these questions (and let’s face it, every candidate thinks they have great communication, presentation and time management skills). To avoid this, I often make a slight adjustment to the question by asking the candidate to see themselves through someone else’s eyes. E.g. “What do you think your last manager would say your strengths are?” Or
“How do you think your current work colleagues would describe your personality, and why?” It can sometimes be easier for candidates to critique themselves by putting themselves in others shoes.

However, with this in mind, there are times when a more structured formal interview is more appropriate. This has a lot to do with the style of environment that I am interviewing, for example if I am recruiting for a corporate business, where the manager has a more formal style, then it can be misleading to take an informal approach with the candidate.

As an interviewer it is always our role to make sure the candidate leaves excited about the prospect of the role that they are interviewing for. However, it is important to ensure they have realistic expectations about the process to come and the environment that they could be working in.

So as a professional interviewer, what do I recommend…?

Ultimately you need to find a style that you are comfortable with, and that most encourages candidates to be open and honest in the recruitment process. Two people can ask the same question of a candidate, but receive a very different response due to the way that they phrase the question, the tone they use and or the body language they are showing. So don’t copy your colleagues, or follow a strict template. Do what yields the best results for you!

If you would like to chat more about perfecting your interview technique, please get in touch with either myself or Naomi – we’d be delighted to help. Alternatively, we have plenty more tips on our website at Sprint Coach.


Entry Level Candidates Rarely Stay in their First Role….

Employers take note! A quick explanation as to why entry level candidates rarely stay in their first roles for 2 years anymore….

Young candidates (code for entry level or those who have very little office experience – or none at all) are simply NOT going to sit at your front desk for 2 years as your Receptionist, unpacking dishwashers, organising couriers and filing for months on end waiting for someone to notice them and promote them to their next job. Nor are they going to be in customer service roles with repetitive tasks, nor are they going to handle mundane or routine tasks over and over…and over for years on end.

This doesn’t mean that the days of ‘earning your stripes’ or ‘starting at the bottom’ are over. It’s simply to say that young candidates today CRAVE new tasks, new information and new experiences. They have access to so much more information than we ever did at school. They’re naturally tech savvy and are connected to the world in ways that we never were.

They’re prepared to do their time in the junior roles but they want recognition and attention – and they want it now!

Often clients say to me: “I need a Receptionist to sit on front desk for a minimum of 2 years before I can promote them”. Or, “I don’t want to have to keep re-recruiting that role.” And “Why don’t they stay long term anymore?”

Employers wonder why after 6/7 months she/he has left and found a job at the place down the road with their friend – with a salary increase and with a slightly pumped up job description.

In my opinion, and from my observations and experience, the days of finding a ‘stable’ job out of school or uni, staying in it for years and working your way up are over and gone. If Company A won’t coach/train/promote then guess what? They’ll just go to Company B to find it. Simple as that.

I hear employers crying out “Young people don’t stick at anything, they’re fickle, they’re just chasing the $$$”. And I am sorry, I sympathise, however I’m just here to state the facts from years and years of seeing this pattern (and it’s getting worse).

Now there is the flipside to this of course – Accept it – Don’t fight it – And come up with innovative ways to keep them engaged.

So… To The solution! What can you do?

• Knowing and understanding that they crave new tasks and new experiences, try to add in new tasks every few months (or even weeks if your new starter can handle it).
• Quite simply if they are unpacking dishwashers, running errands, filing and cleaning up the meeting rooms you can hardly expect a young, bright spark to want to do that for years on end. Even 6-12 months can feel like an eternity to a young person when they have a super sharp mind. Maybe that role is best suited to a traveler who can work a maximum of 6 months, maybe the job simply has a ‘lifespan’ of 6 months?
• If the tasks are simple and you’re consistently having turn over maybe you just need to accept that the job is boring and you won’t keep anyone there for longer than 6 months anyway.
• Discuss small salary increases on a quarterly basis, or even a small bonus. It doesn’t have to be massive. At that level every dollar is being watched so if it’s the extra that pays for their weekly travel pass or a few sandwiches in the city each week then trust me, they’ll be appreciative.
• Or consider shopping vouchers, $150-$250 Westfield vouchers can feel like gold to a young employee. They simply do not have access to surplus cash to spend on themselves when they are on minimum wages.

The short end of the story is that Sydney is a very expensive place to live. Travel is costly, food is expense, don’t even get me started on the cost of living out of home when they’re first setting up a flat.

If that young employee is truly a valued member of your team then start working ‘with them’ and not against them otherwise company B, C, D and E will happy snap them up then you’ll be back to square on training the next junior on how to book a courier……

Naomi Marshall – Director
P: (02) 9271 0011
M: 0422 139 910
E: naomi@sprintpeople.com.au