A comprehensive interview that features thoughtful preparation, insightful questions, and a purpose-driven approach are an integral tool in finding the right candidate for a position. Even in a challenging labor market where filling positions quickly may seem more important than patiently following best practices, there are elements of the fit between a job and a candidate that cannot be evaluated using an abbreviated process.

In this article, we discuss these elements and the value they bring when conducting a comprehensive interview with a job candidate.

Assemble an Interview Team, But Avoid an Inquisition

When conducting the interview, hiring managers should consider including human resource professionals and employees from the department in which the candidate will work. It is also valuable to bring veteran employees into the mix. They have a strong sense of the company’s culture and can help offer perspectives of how well the candidate might fit within it.

While it is important to evaluate candidates from a variety of viewpoints, it is also wise to avoid overwhelming the candidate with a panel interview that loses focus and puts the candidate on the defensive. Unless that type of pressure is typical for the role, it might prove difficult to get an accurate read on how the interviewee will perform in the position.

Rely on History to Form a Hypothesis

Continuing with the theme of getting a realistic picture of how a candidate will perform in a position, an interview should include questions about how a candidate handled specific situations—such as difficult managers or toxic co-workers—in previous work experiences. For the best results, ask them to focus on “real world” situations, and provide context to help them give examples that are relevant to the position they are interviewing for. For example, if the position requires travel, ask them to share past experiences (both positive and negative) with work-related trips.

Aim to add a balance of concrete, closed-end questions with fabricated scenarios that could occur at the new position. It is also useful to formulate guided questions that ask the candidate to provide forecasts on how they see their position evolving over time, particularly if growth is expected from candidates in the role.

Supplement with Personality Testing

Pre-employment tests can provide objective information about a candidate’s personality traits and suitability for a position that can be missed during an interview. This saves time and improves accuracy in an interview process.

Further, pre-employment tests provide material for hiring managers to use during a comprehensive interview. Adding clarifying questions to an interview that are based on a candidate’s test results can reveal insights about a job seeker that could be missed in a more spontaneous, unstructured conversation.

Discuss the Job Description in Detail

Creating a detailed job description that gives candidates a clear idea of what skills a job requires, the level of experience and education required, and the role within a team the candidate will be expected to fill helps ensure that a greater percentage of applicants are right for the position.

On the front end, during the application process, it helps candidates determine whether it is worth it for them to pursue the position. On the back end, during the interview, hiring managers are able to form questions that assess the fit between the role and the candidate which can highlight whether a job seeker is qualified early in the interview process.

Remember: It is worthwhile to make sure your job descriptions aren’t outdated, that they effectively convey the company culture, and that they include both hard skills such as strong knowledge of particular software programs and soft skills such as an ability to work under pressure on short deadlines—both of which might be required for the job seeker to be successful at the position and are vital to determining a candidate’s job fit.

Prepare a List Of Questions with Possible Alternatives

Preparing a list of questions helps ensure that an interview doesn’t become too casually conversational and veer off track. This helps the interviewer cover all of the main points related to the position with each of the candidates. Avoid being too rigid, however. Strictly adhering to only the prepared questions may cause a missed opportunity to dive into a topic of interest or concern that could add important insight to the hiring decision.

Making (and maintaining) a list of general questions for all candidates, a second list of position-specific questions for a variety of different roles, and a short list of alternatives to use in special circumstances can help hiring managers have more effective comprehensive interviews.

Comprehensive Equates to Quality

The time and expense of a thorough and well-conceived interview can provide immense value. Three or four hours might seem like a sizable investment for a candidate that might not make the final cut. If that time is cut from the selection process, however, a bad hire could result, which can be much more costly.

In the end, a well-considered, comprehensive approach saves time and expense while providing insights that shortcuts won’t allow.