Formal Interviews: No Longer Relevant?

Last night I was discussing with someone about their job search. It seemed that the interview stage was hard to reach.  No responses, job postings with misinformation, or too long of applications were bogging him down. The search was coming up short, until recently, he had an interview. I asked him what questions the interview asked, and he gave me a refreshing response. “He didn’t ask me any formal interview questions. We just talked. It was nice, I wish every interview was that casual.”

He hit the nail on the head. Naturally, and rightfully so, companies want an employee that is skilled in their job, and is aware of the effort and information needed to complete tasks in a timely and efficient manner. An open position brings in hundreds of job applications, resumes, and cover letters. This is the time for the recruiting department, HR, hiring managers, or executives to find the candidates with the right skill set and experience. Before any interviews have been conducted, it is the company’s responsibility to choose which candidates they would like to bring in to speak with in person, and which candidates they need to respond with a simple “No thank you, we appreciate your time”. (This last point is so so important, every application deserves a response!!)

Before the interviews, the company should have a handful of talented job candidates that could fill the position. But skill set and experience does not show the entire picture. Employers need to assess cultural fit, which is where the interview comes into play. A few standard interview questions are necessary to determine that the candidate really is educated in this field. Employers need to make sure that the candidate and the resume are a match! Once that has been determined, the interviewer now has the chance to talk with the candidate frankly.


Cultural fit determines if the candidate will work well with the team, if he or she truly believes in the company’s voice, and whether the work and life balance of the candidate and company fits together. Employees spend much of their waking hours at their job, working with their team. The culture of the company is extremely important in deciding whether a candidate will be a good or bad hire.

Interviews are the opportunity for the hiring manager to find a cultural match amongst the job candidates. All of them are talented, but which one will work best with the team? A formal interview doesn’t determine cultural fit efficiently, the tense environment of that outdated interview style may hide the true personality of a candidate.

What do you think? Should interviews remain formal? Or should they conform to the changing work styles of employers and employees? What questions do you ask in interviews?

Tell us your thoughts in our comments!

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