Recruitment Strategies: The Interview of Champions

Recruitment Strategies: The Interview of Champions

Samantha Badr


Join me on this HR journey as I try to navigate my way through *Recruiting* and all the fun stuff that comes with it. To provide some background – I’m not technically my company’s recruiter, rather an HR professional that wears many hats. Our interview process begins with the recruiter reading through a bazillion resumes. But luckily for me, I showed up just in time to showcase my one true talent – “chitchatting”. This last week was filled with structured panel interviews and I can’t wait to tell you ALL about it.

Interview Types

Before we dive into the good stuff, let’s educate ourselves on interviews in their entirety, because who knew there were so many different techniques? For starters, interviews can be either structured or unstructured. Structured interviews provide the interviewer with the information needed to make a hiring decision. This technique is crucial in defending an organization against allegations of discrimination because all applicants are asked the same questions. In an unstructured interview, applicants can set the stage while many open-ended questions are asked. However, a lack of structure can make it difficult to compare and rank applicants that are not asked the same set of questions.

The most widely used types of interviews are:

  • The telephone prescreen interview
  • The direct one-on-one interview
  • The panel interview

Before being hired in my current HR role, I experienced all the interview types listed above. The recruitment process started with the telephone prescreen interview. The second round included the direct one-on-one interview, and the final round was a panel interview. Now that I’m sitting on the opposite side of the table, I get to witness just how much this process can be designed in different ways.


The three most common approaches to interviews are behavioral, competency-based, and situational. These approaches are used to discover how the interviewee performs in specific situations. The logic is based on the fact that past performance can predict future behavior. In a behavioral approach, a candidate’s experience, personal attributes, and job-related skills can be determined by this style of questioning. In a competency-based approach, questions are designed to determine if the applicant possesses certain attributes or skills. The situational approach provides candidates with hypothetical scenarios and focuses on their past experiences, behaviors, knowledge, and abilities.

Some examples of interview questions are:

  • Behavioral: Give me a specific example of a time you set a goal and how you were able to achieve it.
  • Competency-based: Tell me about a situation in which your spoken communication skills made a difference in the outcome. What did you learn?
  • Situational: You have been hired as the HR director in a 300-employee company and are struggling to perform the necessary HR administrative work by yourself. The CFO tells you that you need to be more strategic. How would you handle this situation?


Now that we’ve discussed interview types and approaches, it’s time to figure out an interview style. Interviews can be either one-on-one or conducted in a group setting. The most common style is the traditional one-on-one interview, where just the interviewer and interviewee are present. As for group interviews, there are two types – a panel group and a candidate group. In a panel group interview, a candidate is interviewed individually by a panel of two or more people. Panel interviews can create a broader picture of the candidate given that there are differing perspectives amongst the interviewers. The less common option, a candidate group interview, is when a candidate is interviewed alongside other job applicants who may be applying for the same position. Each candidate listens to information about the company and position then may be asked to answer questions or participate in group exercises.

Formatting Interview Questions

Most interviews will consist of a combination of open/closed-ended questions and some follow-up questions. Open-ended questions encourage candidates to provide longer answers and expand on their knowledge, strengths, and job experiences. Closed-ended questions can enable the employer to receive direct responses and specific information from the candidate. Follow-up questions are needed if an interviewer does not fully comprehend a response, if answers are vague, or if more specific information is required. Understanding the different styles of questions can help interviewers be creative during the interview design phase.

Some examples of interview questions are:

  • Open-ended: What are you looking to gain from your next position?
  • Closed-ended: How many years of experience do you have as a team leader?
  • Follow-up: Could you please tell me more about . . .?

Something to note: Because interview questions can be pre-determined, it is important to not make any statements that could be misconstrued. It is best to avoid using terms such as “permanent” or “long-term” when describing the job. To minimize the risk of discrimination lawsuits, interviewers must also familiarize themselves with topics that are not permissible as interview questions.

Closing the Interview

The most popular method of closing an interview is to say that the interview is ending and to offer the candidate the opportunity to ask any questions. This enables the candidate to gain clarification on aspects of the position such as hours, salary, and benefits. The interviewer should answer the candidate’s questions as candidly as possible while avoiding compensation discussion if others are present. The interviewer may want to ask if the candidate is interested in the job based on the information provided in the interview, the time frame of the rest of the interviews, and when a decision is likely to be made.

This past week was my first time conducting interviews and I couldn’t wait to learn something new. Candidates started with a pre-screening phone interview, with rounds 2 and 3 being virtual panel interviews. As time progressed, I found that it might be beneficial to play around with different interview styles since some questions could overlap or not provide enough background. Throughout the week I altered introduction styles, interview questions, and scenarios, to observe the outcomes. The key takeaway is that people love me and I’m really good at chatting. With all jokes aside, the one thing that really stood out to me was the interview style. Although my colleagues and I had naturally inviting demeanors, some candidates were more reserved in their speech, which made it harder to judge. However, the best observations were made from the questions that produced personal responses. These last two years have shown the significance of human interaction and how we have lost that through our computer screens. At the end of the day, we are all human beings first, and the more we focus on that, the greater we can be.


Some laughs to get us through the week…

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Shifting Workforce Strategies Post COVID-19

Shifting Workforce Strategies Post COVID-19

Samantha Badr


Congratulations, you’ve survived the first four months of 2021! We’re a third of the way through the new year and yet we are still learning how to adjust to this pandemic. Vaccinations have been distributed and many businesses have begun to open their doors. Some organizations are continuing to work from home (WFH) for the remainder of the year, but what happens after? Many employees had to incorporate new daily tasks into their workday, while many have had to learn new skillsets altogether.  It is crucial that the HR department start preparing for the transition back into the office – making workforce planning the top of their to-do list.

For my audience that is not familiar with HR terminology, workforce planning is the process an organization uses to analyze its workforce and determine the steps it must take to prepare for future staffing needs. LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report reveals that 99% of learning and development executives believe if skill gaps are not closed within the next three to five years, that customer satisfaction could plummet – as well as product development and the company’s ability to innovate and grow. LinkedIn’s report also states that 57% of talent developers will focus on leadership and management skills, 42% on creative problem solving, and 40% on communication skills.

As for the HR department, you are in my thoughts and prayers. It seems like the work never ends! In 2020, safety and adjusting to WFH was the priority, now comes the best part of 2021 – putting all the broken pieces back together. Good thing the HR department is here to save the day. The first task at hand is to expand the ability to operate in a fully digital environment. All employees will need to brush up on their technological skills. This will ensure that they feel comfortable with their job tasks and maintain seamless contact with clients, partners, and suppliers. When returning to the office it is essential that employees are encouraged to seek help with any new systems – whether that includes training programs or open dialogue with co-workers or supervisors.

The next step is further developing cognitive skills for redesign and innovation. With remote work as the reality for over a year, HR managers were forced to demonstrate these skills in an autonomous environment. Keeping employees retained was a project in itself, now organizations have to re-think all their previous strategies to remain innovative. It’s imperative that companies remain creative by adjusting their problem-solving skills to manage projects if some employees or clients are still working remotely.

Social and emotional skills are next on the to-do list. Companies have to maintain their professional ties and grow new client relationships – all while supporting their employees in the process. The HR department, as well as organizational leaders, in particular, might need to develop their skills moving forward. Communication and interpersonal skills need to be worked on, making sure that empathy is at the top of the list. Our economy might be struggling, but we’re all in this together. Leading with sympathy and compassion might restore any hope lost during the pandemic.

The biggest skill to consider is the ability to adapt and be resilient during COVID-19 and beyond. Organizations should use the last year as a source for learning on building self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-reliance. Be transparent with your staff, let them know that you are aware that certain practices can be enhanced and that the company will support each other through the process. Managing time, boundaries, and mental space could use room for improvement in the upcoming year.

As for the HR department, the months to follow should focus on workforce planning strategies. Taking a look within can help companies redefine their purpose or mission, outline their future potential, and shift their perspective to move confidently into the future. The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic might be a long one, but we’re almost there!!! Challenges keep life exciting, after all. Reflect, recommit, re-engage, rethink, and reboot – let’s get through these next few months and continue to thrive. Good luck.

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