Human resources practices are always involving, and one of the most basic hiring tools—the interview—is undergoing a similar transformation. Many companies have been changing their recruitment and interviewing process from traditional interviews to experiential interviewing.
Conventional job interviews follow a well-worn format—candidates know the responses recruiters want to hear and can rehearse the “right” answers. The interviewer asks a series of familiar questions don’t really prompt the candidate to demonstrate their skills. While asking the candidate to talk about past job experiences can yield some good information, it does little to reveal whether the employee will fit into the company culture or actually perform well on the job.
Experiential interviewing, on the other hand, is a tool used by HR professionals and hiring managers to elicit responses that give a multi-faceted view of the candidate. The questions and tests used in experiential interviews provide a better way to assess a candidate’s skills and personality. The goal is to encourage candor and give the candidate opportunities to demonstrate how they would really perform on the job. Here, we’ll discuss the best ways to move away from traditional interviewing to experiential interviewing.
Start with a Phone Interview
One of the first steps during the experiential interview process is a phone interview. In most cases, a phone conversation between the recruiter/hiring manager and candidate can be completed in as few as 10 to 20 minutes. For recruiters, the purpose of the phone interview is to get a feel for the candidate’s communication skills and further explain the position.
The questions asked during the phone interview should give you an idea of the candidate’s familiarity with your organization and its values. Recruiters may also find it useful to ask about the candidate’s work history and why they are currently looking for a new position. Figuring out what motivates an applicant at work is another reason that phone interviews are a good idea. Once you get a feel for the interviewee, you can use the phone interview to determine if an in-person interview is the logical next step.
Ask Candidates to Do Actual Work
An experiential interview should ask the candidate to do actual work, and thus offer recruiters a more accurate way to judge how the person would really perform on the job. One example of this is having a trial week during the interviewing process. In this case, the candidate is given a project similar to what they would do if they were hired for the role. During the trial week, the candidate is paid and they spend the week working on the assigned project.
Even if there’s no budget to pay a candidate for a few days of work, an experimental interview might still include a shorter project. For example, candidates for engineering positions can be given specs and asked to write code for a certain function, while a marketing candidate could be charged with writing a press release using information about a new product or event.
Trying out different interviewing techniques like these gives hiring managers and HR professionals the chance to accurately assess the candidate’s work experience and see how they perform in real-world situations.
Top Experiential Interview Questions
Each question during an experiential interview should target a specific qualification or personality trait, such as conflict resolution, decision-making, and ethics, to name a few.
Employers who prefer experiential interviewing techniques often focus on candidates’ decision-making skills. A typical question might ask the candidate to give an example of a time when they made a professional decision that required superior problem-solving skills. The candidate describes the scenario along with possible outcomes, and then gives an account of how they resolved the situation.
Another skill that employers should focus on is a person’s willingness to adapt and compromise with others. Similar to decision-making, the ability to compromise is tremendously important in fitting in with company culture. Interview questions to assess this quality might focus on a time when the candidate faced conflicting opinions at work and was able to amicably resolve the issue. This type of questioning can also reveal a candidate’s conflict resolution skills, which are critical for positions that require a high degree of collaboration.
Some of the most important questions to ask in an experiential interview focus on ethics. A candidate’s personal ethics can have a huge impact on your organization’s reputation, as well as its bottom line. Questions should be crafted in such a way that they center on the organization’s mission and intrinsic values. Ask the candidate what they would do when faced with an ethical quandary, and see how they respond.
A candidate’s personality is almost as important as their level of education and prior work experience. HR professionals, management, and C-suite executives should work together to develop interview questions that will prompt responses that help you narrow the field of qualified candidates and meet hiring targets.