Tips for Interviewing Different Types of Candidates

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Back in August, we discussed different candidate types one might encounter during both the recruitment and interview process. Like I said then, there is no ideal candidate personality perfect for every position across the board. Each job requires someone different and each company should look for personality diversity in its employees.

A common misconception many small businesses or companies have is the desire to hire like-minded employees who act and perform similarly to the owner or other employees. However, CEO and founder of Steven Step Recruiting, Beth Gilfeather, warns against this saying, “while it might seem like a good thing…it can hamper growth.”

With that in mind, a recruiter and potential interviewer not only needs to be aware of different candidate types, but also techniques and strategies to use for these different types of people during the interview process.

And you don’t want to hire the wrong person for the job. Research from CareerBuilder says 41 percent of companies say a bad hire costs an average of $25,000. It doesn’t take a genius to realize you can’t afford that sticker price.

We’ll use the five candidate types I broke down in the past: analytic/detailed-oriented, flexible/amiable, confident and outgoing, driven people and quiet/shy. Along with pros and cons of each of these types of people, there are also types of questions and techniques you should consider using to get the most out of your interview.


Because these candidates often enjoy working alone rather than with a group, it is important to gauge how receptive they are to working with a team — especially if that is the culture of your company. Ask about a time they had to work with a team to accomplish a goal and what his or her role was. You can also ask why they took that role in the group as well as how he or she thinks the team would describe their performance. Additionally, you may want to measure how well these candidates really retain knowledge, by asking them to summarize information you talked about earlier in the interview.


These candidates are very easy going and are able to “go with the flow” if plans change. And while that is great in a fast-paced work environment, you need to understand why they are that way and how they will respond in situations that may require he or she to act with authority and be decisive. Ask about a time they faced stress at work and how they handled it. Another great question is to ask the candidate to describe a time the candidate had to speak up to make sure his or her opinion or thought was heard with authority.

Confident and Outgoing

We all know these people. They go into the interview extremely confident, have done their research, have questions ready and also have responses for almost every type of question scripted out. One of the greatest interview techniques for these types of candidates is what the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism called the “silent probe.” After the interviewee answers a question, do not respond right away. Instead, count to five. You will be amazed at how many people will continue answering the question with more detail or go in another direction just to end the awkward silence. This way you can see the candidate think and expand outside of the box.


Every successful company has this type of candidate. He or she is results-oriented and will without a doubt gets the job done. However, because these candidates can often be difficult to work with, you need an understanding of how he or she acts with potential co-workers. One interview technique is to bring in other employees to the interview room and leave them with the candidate for 10-15 minutes. See how they interact with people. You can get a very clear picture of a person by how he or she acts around other people. Or if you would rather, have the candidate sit down next to other people in the office for a few minutes before the interview and see how they interact with possible future co-workers.

Quiet and Shy

It can be difficult to interview these types of candidates. Because they are generally shy, they may answer questions with only one or two sentences, leaving you wanting more. A good way to remedy this is by asking open-ended questions that require the interviewee to expand in detail. Questions that aren’t specifically-related to the job or his or her past work experience could really get the candidate talking. Try asking them about their hobbies, what they do in their free time, or when was the last time they lost track of time working on a project they were passionate about. This can break the tension in the room that sometimes comes with a formal interview.

As your company continues to grow and you hire more employees, remember that not all candidates are alike, and therefore, not all interviews should be the same. By understanding the type of person your candidate is, you can tailor the interview to his or her personality and wind up with a the best candidate for the job.


4 Replies to Tips for Interviewing Different Types of Candidates

  1. You done a impressive work.. I like the wok because it contain lots of good info.. It is useful to not only me, It's to all..

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