Recruitment and Talent Attraction: Find the best interview style for your recruitment process

As part of our recruitment and talent attraction blog series, this week we are focussing on interview styles and what style might work best for your recruitment process. Previously in this series of blogs, we have looked at employer branding and why it’s important. Click here to read the previous blog “recruitment and talent attraction: why is employer branding important?”.

So, you have a shortlist of candidates and now it’s time to interview. But we all know that interviewing can be time-consuming, costly and a logistical nightmare when you’re balancing other priorities! It’s important to think thoroughly about what you want to know about the candidate, what the required timescales are and who needs to be involved.  

In this part of the series, we are discussing what interview styles will help you get the most out of your recruitment process. There are a number of different interview styles and formats, each of which have a unique purpose. The type of interview style you choose will give you different information about the candidates, so it is important to be considered about your approach.

Before you start your interview process, you need to make sure you have the relevant internal recruitment team or line manager who can carry out the interviews. If you feel that the line manager(s) or the internal recruitment team aren’t overly confident conducting interviews, you can follow these steps to develop them: 

Training: If you are able, it might be beneficial to host group sessions on interviewing to help line managers improve their interview process, and to also give them a safe space to voice opinions and ask questions. Remember, line managers may not be trained on all legal/HR requirements of the recruitment process and should always be guided on the dos and don’ts of what can be discussed in interviews. 

Recruitment partners: If you are using a recruiter to source candidates for a vacancy, you could ask them to sit in on the interviews with the line manager. 

Recruiters are experienced in carrying out all types of interviews. You can maximise this opportunity to find out great interview techniques and get the best information required from the candidates. Your team may find this experience beneficial and may be able to learn from it. 

Feedback sessions: After the interview, have a feedback session between the line managers and the HR team to discuss candidates and how you wish to move forwards

Buddy system: Pair up line managers who are more confident with interviewing with a line manager who might not feel comfortable or is inexperienced. Get them to do interviews together, allowing the team to get coaching on interviewing techniques and make the experience more enjoyable for both parties. 


Different types of interview styles

There are several different types of interview styles that you may wish to consider. The style of interview that you decide to move forward with should be tailored to the type of position you are recruiting for. A certain amount of flexibility around the candidate may be beneficial, especially in the early stages of the process. It is important to note that there is no one size fits all approach here. Each time you recruit for a new position, your approach may need to be adapted accordingly. Here are a few things to consider:

Off-site vs On-site

This is something that can make a real difference, especially at first stage interviews. Where it is possible and practical, it might be a good idea to offer some flexibility such as having the interview at a venue closer to the candidate, or just somewhere a bit more informal so that you can meet with them in a more relaxed environment. 

However, it is also important the candidates come to site at some point to check the travel and see the facilities. Therefore, we would recommend to only do an offsite interview if you run a two-stage interview process.

Video vs Face-to-Face

Agile interviewing gives you and your candidates more flexibility when it comes to organising interviews. 

If your candidate needs to put in a holiday request in order to attend interviews, some companies require two weeks’ notice to do this. If there is no flexibility, this may mean that candidates have to pull out of the interview or the interviewing company doesn’t see them, as they can’t fit them in, which could mean missing out on potentially excellent candidates.  

To make interviewing more flexible and ensure that you don’t put prospective candidates off due to restrictions, you could consider offering out of office hours interviews or conduct video interviews via Facetime, Skype and WhatsApp. 

Competency-based Interviews/Questions 

Asking competency questions during an interview can allow you to really see how candidates think on their feet. By asking scenario-based questions the candidate is required to demonstrate strong examples from their career, rather than just reading about their experience from their CV. 

However, the competency-based questions must be tailored towards the role in order to get the desired effect and to really put the candidate to the test. Many companies have been using the same questions for a number of years and they are widely available on the internet for people to practice. It may be best to revamp your questions away from the generic “tell me a time when you have faced confrontation” to more specific questions which directly relate to the role you are interviewing for. 

Informal CV Chat

Often, conducting an informal CV chat for the first stage of your interview process might be the most appropriate approach. It will allow you to go through the candidate’s CV to check dates and discuss each role they have had in more detail. Often a CV chat also allows you to see how the candidate interacts in a more informal setting.

Exercises / Testing

For more specific roles ‘in-tray’ exercises or general exercises are a strong indicator of someone’s practical capabilities. For example, if you are hiring a copywriter, give them a grammar test or, if you are hiring a junior accountant, give them a set of excel questions to complete before the interview. 

As with competency questions, the test should be specifically tailored to the role to make sure you’re getting the most appropriate information from the candidates. Requesting a maths test from an individual that will not require this skill for their role, for example, could mean you are missing out if they fail a standardised but irrelevant company test. 


For certain roles, a presentation is often requested as part of the interview process. This can be a great way for the candidate to show you what they can do, and for you to ensure that they will be competent to do the job. 

The key things to consider when asking a candidate to prepare a presentation for their interview is to understand what the line manager is wanting to achieve by asking for one. Do they just want to see how well the candidate can present? Do they want to see how much effort they have put in? Do they want to understand their thought process around a specific topic? The underlying reason for requesting a presentation should define the topic that the candidate is being asked to present on, so this needs to be a key consideration when preparing this element of the interview process. 

Technical Questioning

If you are recruiting for a specialist role, technical questioning, using questions directly related to the candidate’s field, might be appropriate to include in your interview. This can be a great way to ensure that candidates have the appropriate skills for the role, given their qualifications and experience. For example, if you are recruiting a design engineer you could ask the candidate to solve an equation which is used frequently in design and project-based engineering. 

If you are recruiting a role that requires technical capabilities whether this is engineering or IT, we would suggest that the hiring manager should be more heavily involved in the screening process. Alternatively, use your recruiter to help screen for specific must-have technical skills.


More from this series 

Over the next couple of months, we will be sharing insights from our recruitment team to help guide your employer brand, interview process and onboarding. 

Take a look at our first blog in the Recruitment and Talent Attraction series which focuses on why employer branding is important - In the next blog in this series, we will focus on what makes an effective recruitment process.

If you would like to find out more about how our experienced, specialist recruiters can help you as part of your interview process, contact us for more information.



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