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To create a decision about whether or not to hire someone, employers should eliminate the preconceived notion that they can gain insight into an applicant’s future performance through traditional interview models. To better predict job success, recruitment teams need to look beyond referrals and applicants who have passed preliminary skills tests. The best approach is to conduct a series of four interviews that complement each other:

1. The screening interview 

Screening interviews are less formal than other types because their primary purpose is to weed out those who don’t make the cut before moving on to more qualified candidates. Screen interviews are best carried out over the phone or a video call and take no more than 30 minutes. The interview should cover questions about the candidate’s career goals, professional strengths, and perceived weaknesses. Asking the candidate to talk about the qualities they liked and didn’t like about their former bosses also helps reveal the candidate’s personality – potentially raising red flags or giving the interviewer the opportunity to probe further.

2. The Topgrading Interview 

Topgrading interviews are used to find and hire the best candidates out of a select group of competitors; these types of interviews can also be called “hiring championships.” There is usually only one interview in this process with an intense focus on candidate qualifications, past work experience, and performance ability.

The best way to conduct the topgrading interview and learn more about their experience is by asking the candidate to describe the job they were hired to do. Ask about any accomplishments that may have been the result of extraordinary performance. It’s also important to ask the candidate to describe what they felt were low points in their career. Finally, ask the candidate about their former bosses and why they’ve chosen to leave their current job. If time allows, it may prove insightful to ask why the candidate decided to leave all their previous jobs.  

To conduct the best topgrading interview possible, don’t interrupt and ask about previous performance and peers. Look for signs indicating you should probe deeper, such as the candidate suddenly becoming uncomfortable after being asked about a past professional experience.

3. The focused interview 

The focused interview, also referred to as the behavioral interview, focuses on determining the candidate’s response when exposed to certain situations. This type of interview reveals competencies that result in desired behaviors and outcomes. A great way to conduct this type of interview is to ask the candidate what they would do in a high-risk situation. You can use an actual event that has happened in the past that was resolved with a favorable outcome due to excellent decision-making skills.

4. The reference interview 

Reference Interviews should be conducted with the goal of finding references who can speak to a candidate’s performance and work ethic. This type of interview will usually only be conducted with high potential candidates. Still, it is crucial for hiring managers to check in with former employers before extending an offer or deciding whom to hire.

How many interviews does your company typically conduct before reaching a decision?  Please email me at to continue the conversation. 

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734