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Formal vs. Informal Interviews

In-person interviews are a valuable tool in assessing a candidate’s communication skills, ability to handle pressure, and most importantly the ability to perform the essential job functions. Regardless of the interview format, the main objectives of the interview process are to make sure the candidate has the proper skill set and to determine whether this person will fit within the team and Company culture on a long-term basis. While there are a variety of methods and interview styles, it most often boils down to two styles – Formal and Informal.

A formal interview is a more traditional approach to in-person interviews. Employers typically use a list of predetermined questions and do not stray from them. Hiring managers may use topgrading questions, which are designed to piece together a candidate’s experiences, or may focus on posing situational questions to clarify how a candidate thinks.  In some cases, scripted interviews prove to be the best option for determining which candidate to hire. An example of this may include a situation where there are a significant number of candidates being interviewed in-person, which requires a more comparative evaluation, versus a singular candidate evaluation. Another example where a formal interview structure may work best is with individual practitioner roles that are highly technical in nature and therefore require specific hard skills, versus soft skills.

EctoHR often utilizes an informal approach during the interview process both for clients and internally. This approach facilitates an open conversation instead of one party asking a majority of the questions. Informal interviews encourage candidates to let their guard down and show their true personality, which helps ensure culture fit. Typically, informal interviews are more appropriate for positions where the skills and job duties may be less defined or technical in nature and for which on-the-job training can provide the necessary hard skills.  Additionally, a less-structured interview format works well for management positions where an individual may need to lead and facilitate meaningful conversations on his or her own. With informal interview styles, the EctoHR team makes sure to include situational questions and to poses a few consistent questions to all candidates.

Both interview styles have advantages and disadvantages, but companies who focus heavily on culture fit benefit more from an informal interview. It is important in both formats to remain relatively consistent in the questions being asked and follow a similar process with each individual. Candidates appreciate the opportunity to have a real conversation and are more likely to feel comfortable with the Company and position as a result. It is also important to note that the interview process is an opportunity for the candidate to interview the Company. Employees are conscious about choosing the career and Company that is the best fit for them, so ensuring they feel comfortable enough to ask questions and bring up any concerns could be a determining factor.

A good interview process contributes to retention efforts, impacts Company culture and confirms candidates are the right fit for the position. When combined with formal tools, such as candidate assessments, employers can utilize a style that works best for them and helps them combine the subjective with the objective perspective of candidates.

To learn more about how EctoHR, Inc. supports clients’ recruiting process through interviews, please reach out to a team member at or 810-534-0170.

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