Interviews: an overview of the methods | staff

Recruitment interview is one of the most popular tools for selecting personnel. Due to ongoing digitization and events such as the coronation pandemic, there has been a sharp increase in the number of technology interviews in recent years, which can provide an economical and flexible alternative to traditional face-to-face interviews.

As Kanning (2018) concludes in his standard work on personnel diagnostics, a general distinction can be made between structured and unstructured interviews. Structured interviews are characterized by their standardization and systematization in terms of content, implementation and evaluation. Therefore, each candidate is asked the same questions that were formulated prior to the interview on the basis of the requirements analysis. The evaluation is then done for each question separately using an evaluation key that has been previously uniformly defined (e.g. behavior-based rating scales).

Structured interviews are much more meaningful than unstructured interviews

By using the interview guide and uniform assessment criteria, structured interviews allow for comparable interviews with different applicants. In turn, unstructured interviews give the interviewer complete freedom in terms of the formal process, questions and assessment criteria. As a result, unstructured interviews are more like an interview and it is difficult to objectively compare candidates. Accordingly, they are particularly susceptible to misconceptions and self-portrait tactics on the part of the applicants.

Not surprisingly, structured interviews are a much more meaningful alternative to the quality criteria of objectivity, integrity and validity compared to their unstructured counterparts. Structured interviews allow for a good prediction of professional performance and, along with work samples and cognitive performance tests, are among the most accurate methods of personnel selection. Additionally, in order to increase reliability and accuracy, it is advisable to use several interviewers who evaluate the interviewees independently of each other.

Video interviews: clear advantages over face-to-face interviews

In the course of digitization, the diffusion of interview formats through technology has increased significantly. Synchronous formats in which the interaction takes place simultaneously via a technical medium (e.g. telephone interview or videoconference) are particularly popular. On the other hand, asynchronous interview variants have been used less frequently so far.

In delayed video interviews, applicants are asked questions via the online platform. Candidates then have the option of answering the questions themselves at any time by recording their responses on video and submitting them to the company. The advantages of technology-based interviews compared to their traditional counterparts are obvious: reducing the time and costs of organization and travel, increased flexibility, widening the pool of candidates to groups of candidates that would otherwise be difficult to reach and – at least for asynchronous interviews – a high level of standardization.

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Interview formats: Comparability must be guaranteed

However, the comparability of the course of the interview between the different variants of the interview is limited. As Blacksmith and colleagues (2016) show, applicants generally perform worse in telephone and video conferencing than in face-to-face interviews. On the other hand, the preparation time in asynchronous interviews can help achieve better outcomes compared to synchronic interview formats, as reported by Basch et al (2021).

Overall, it can be said that structured technology interviews can provide an economical, flexible and important alternative to traditional interviews. However, in order to be able to compare respondents, it is recommended that the same interview format be used for all applicants.

Also read:

Alternatives to Personal Interview

Data protection: what to consider in video interviews (Personalmagazin digital)

All interview posts can be found on this topic page.


Basch, JM, Brenner, F, Melchers, KG, Krumm, S, Dräger, L, Herzer, H and Schuwerk, E (2021). A good thing takes time: the role of preparation time in asynchronous video interviews. International Journal of Selection and Evaluation, 29, 378-392.

Kowal N, Wilford JC and Behrend TS (2016). Technology in the interview: meta-analysis and future research plan. Staff evaluation and decisions, 2 (1), 12-20.

Kanning, UP (2018). Standards of personal diagnostics. Hogrefe

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