Most interviews can be categorized into three main buckets: traditional interviews, conversational interviews and behavioral-based interviews. Which one is right for you?

Typically, an interviewer’s style can be categorized into three main buckets: traditional interviews, conversational interviews and behavioral-based interviews. It’s important to be familiar with all types of interviews so as the interviewer you can determine your interview style and as the candidate, you can be better prepared for any interview situation. Each can be beneficial in different scenarios, but for a lot of positions, behavioral-based interviews work best.

Traditional Interviews

Traditional interviews typically consist of a resume read followed by a Q&A session. The first part of the discussion is focused on the candidate’s experience and background, and then the applicant is allowed to ask any questions about the position, company, and culture. While beneficial, traditional interviews don’t allow hiring managers to fully grasp the candidate’s thought process and decision-making abilities.

Conversational Interviews

Conversational interviews allow an interviewer and candidate the opportunity to have more fluid, less structured discussions. In theory, this allows both parties to get to know the other in a more personal manner. However, while the conversation may flow well, the interviewer may not gain as much insight into the candidate’s aptitude for the position or some of his or her core competencies.

Behavioral-based Interviews

Behavioral-based interviews are focused around situational questions. These questions, often called STAR questions, short for Situational, Task, Action, Result; allow the interviewer to learn about a candidate’s past “behaviors” in specific work situations, rather than just his or her experience. By gaining this valuable type of information, a hiring manager can make a more strategic decision and ensure they’re choosing the ideal candidate for the role. If you are conducting a behavioral- or STAR-based interview or if you find yourself in a situational interview, the following is a list of major competencies that should be assessed:

  • Acts strategically
  • Drives excellence
  • Builds relationships
  • Excels in customer service
  • Creates inclusion
  • Inspires achievement
  • Delivers results
  • Lives with integrity

For example, to assess “Acts strategically,” an interviewer could ask, “Tell me about a time when you recognized an opportunity to increase your internal or external customer base. What was the situation? What did you do? How did the business benefit from this customer expansion?” By focusing questions around these competencies, both the interviewer and the interviewee can have a better idea of whether or not the role would be a good fit.

In my nearly two decades in recruiting for Lucas Group, I have helped thousands of hiring managers and candidates prepare for interviews. In most instances, conducting and being prepared for a behavioral-based interview leads to long-term hiring decisions that ultimately benefit both parties. For a list of steps in the behavioral-based interview process, click here.

Have you been in an interview situation recently? What type of interview was it and what was the outcome?


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