Using the Interview Linking Approach to Assess Candidate Fit

March 28, 2016 in HR Best Practices, Interview Tips


The following blog appeared in our parent company e-newsletter, HR Insights. It was written by Cecilia Rae, a content writer at iCIMS, Inc

Quality interviews are crucial for the success of your company during the hiring process. As you continue to hire new people, asking the right questions in an interview will help ensure you get a clear snapshot of who your candidates are right from the start. So, how do you know if you are asking the right questions to best identify if a candidate is a proper fit? A good strategy I like to use to help uncover information about candidates is what I like to call the “linking approach.” The linking approach refers to the way the questions are posed to the candidate by having questions build off each other to form a grander story about the candidate’s previous experiences.

Taking the time to ask hard-hitting questions in each interview will increase the likelihood you’ll uncover any potential issues with a candidate early. For example, how the candidate chooses to respond to questions that require an in-depth response will provide a better understanding of who they are and, therefore, make it easier to make the best decision in choosing your next employee. Furthermore, this will also help save time and money by possibly uncovering any problems that would arise down the line.

For example, to best use this method, the interviewer begins with a generalized and open question, such as identifying a specific item on the candidate’s resume and asking them to talk about it. Depending on how the candidate chooses to respond to the initial open-ended question, this opens up a wonderful opportunity to ask more detail-oriented questions related to the one initially asked, such as:

  • How did you do that?

  • What was the result?

  • Were you solely responsible or did you work with a team?

  • What were some challenges you ran into and what did you do to overcome them?

Although each interview process ranges based on position, industry, and level of experience, using the aforementioned method during an interview offers a conversational approach and challenges each candidate to be as specific as possible. Furthermore, inviting a candidate to elaborate on examples of successful and difficult situations in their professional life will provide you, the employer, with valuable insight to their previous experience and illustrate how well they may perform in your current job opening.

While it can be tough to identify weaknesses in potential candidates, it is extremely important to differentiate a qualified candidate from just an average candidate. In an article written by Joe Konop of Forbes, he states how difficult it can be to determine whether or not a candidate possesses certain intangible values over the course of a traditional interview. Konop explains, “The trick is asking the right questions and then reflecting on both the content and delivery of their answers.” In other words, Konop suggests that it is just as important for interviewers to listen for how each candidate approaches their response.

To do this, pay close attention to how the candidate responds to each question. While someone may be appealing on paper, how they articulate themselves will truly differentiate them from the pack and confirm their qualification for the job. Using the linking approach to ask follow-up questions also forces the candidates to think of a response on the spot, which is another great quality to assess.

Incorporating the linking approach provides the interviewer creative liberty to take the conversation in any direction necessary while uncovering crucial points about a candidate. Interviews are the gateway to quality hires and, hopefully by using this approach in your next interview, you will be better prepared to hire the best talent.

Visit the HR Best Practices section of the Kinsa blog for more tips on interviewing, employee retention, and managing staff.