Common interview methods don’t highlight the right person for the job; they highlight the best and most enthusiastic storyteller, and storytelling isn’t always the job employers are looking to fill.
As career development professionals, when we prepare jobseekers for interviews, we prepare them for behavioural interviews – reminding them to tell stories and use specific examples of previous experiences and outcomes. This method paints a beautiful picture of the candidates’ thought process, decision-making and problem-solving skills.
However, this structure doesn’t assess technical skills. Rather, it exposes a jobseeker’s ability to think on the spot and effectively articulate and communicate under pressure. There are many roles that require this style of thinking and communication such as customer service, human resources and leadership. There are many other roles, however, that don’t require such intense social and interpersonal skills, meaning interviewers are filtering candidates based on a skillset that doesn’t represent the role itself.
This blog highlights alternative interview methods to help find the best person for the job and create a more equitable interview process.
Skill or competency-based interviews provide a case study or performance piece so candidates can display the practical skills they will perform in the role daily. For example, if an employer is holding interviews for a data analyst position, they may present the candidate with raw data and ask them to analyze aspects of the data with relevant software in a timed exercise.
This type of assessment not only highlights the interviewee’s competency with the technology, it tests problem solving, adaptability, stress and time management, understanding the value of the company’s work, thought processes toward asking clarification questions and the presentation of final data. This type of interview delivers far more valuable insights into the candidate’s capabilities with technology than having them give a rehearsed answer about their strengths.
This method is particularly beneficial to create equity for neurodiverse candidates and candidates who possess the technical knowledge but lack the English language skills to articulate high-level concepts. Creating more inclusive interview practices helps meet the skills gap many industries are facing.
Pre-recorded (or asynchronous) video interviews are still behavioural interviews, but without the pressure of on-the-spot social communication. In this style of interview, candidates receive the questions beforehand, so they have time to craft a suitable answer and rehearse and submit a recorded video of their responses. This provides the interviewer with more thoughtful and thorough responses to the questions, rather than a test of the candidates’ ability to think on their feet. For roles that have a heavy emphasis on written communication and/or public speaking skills, this format allows those skills to shine through.
“This provides the interviewer with more thoughtful and thorough responses to the questions, rather than a test of the candidates’ ability to think on their feet.”
For neurodiverse candidates and other equity-deserving groups, this method creates a less nerve-wracking environment that can incorporate any needed accommodations and better represents the candidate in a space where they are thriving. Pre-recorded interview videos give candidates the space to rehearse, regulate sensory needs in their environment, and not be limited to social and cultural constructs such as making eye contact with the interviewer. This interview method removes some of the nerves and anxiety associated with interviews for all candidates and is an excellent way for employers to elicit more meaningful and thorough responses.
There is no one right interviewing method. The best practice is to incorporate Universal Design to ensure inclusive interactions that support a spectrum of individual needs. The goal of any interview is to connect with people on a human level to find the best candidate for the role. This means identifying the specific skills needed for the position, aligning the interview process with the operational needs of the role and allowing flexibility by presenting interview options to the candidate when their application is submitted. This method supports the needs of neurodiverse candidates, but also many others; that’s how Universal Design works. For example, some candidates may not have access to reliable internet and may prefer an in-person interview. Others may prefer an online interview so that they don’t have to find childcare for the interview.
The key is to be open-minded to adapting interviews to give candidates the opportunity to showcase their strengths, perform in a way that emulates what will be expected of them in the role and make space to disclose their disability if they so choose. These changes will help build opportunities for self-advocacy and create an inclusive environment early on to support employees of all types.
Ways to implement
The best way to promote equity and meet candidates where they’re at is to give them the choice regarding how they want to showcase themselves by letting them choose between an in-person, virtual or recorded interview video. By giving candidates the autonomy to choose, the organization immediately indicates their authentic EDI commitment to qualified candidates; this may lead to a greater number and breadth of applicants.
As career development professionals, we can support this work by sharing the variety of interview options with employers, so that they can still meet their goals – just in different ways. Ultimately, giving candidates more choice and making them more comfortable in the interview process leads to benefits for everyone.