Types of Job Interview
There are many different types of interviews. Once you are
selected for an interview, you may experience one or more
of the situations described below. When you schedule an interview,
try to get as much information about whom you will be meeting.
It is rare to have only one interview prior to a job offer.
Most employers will bring back a candidate a number of times
to be sure a potential employee will fit into the company
Job-seekers going on job interviews can basically
expect one of two styles of interviewing. While the styles
differ, there are some basic activities job-seekers need to
do both before and after the interview in order to succeed.
The key to preparing for an interview is to
find out before the interview how the interview will be conducted.
You can do this by asking the following questions when the
interview is being scheduled:
- How many people will be interviewing me?
- Will I be the only person interviewed at one time?
- What kind of questions will be asked?
- How can I best prepare for this interview?
Becoming familiar with different types of interviews will
give you a chance to be better prepared.
The Screening Interview
A screening interview is meant to weed out unqualified candidates.
Providing facts about your skills is more important than establishing
rapport. Interviewers will work from an outline of points
they want to cover, looking for inconsistencies in your resume
and challenging your qualifications. Provide answers to their
questions, and never volunteer any additional information.
That information could work against you. One type of screening
interview is the telephone interview.
Some tips for maintaining confidence
during screening interviews:
- Highlight your accomplishments and
- Get into the straightforward groove.
Personality is not as important to the screener as verifying
your qualifications. Answer questions directly and succinctly.
Save your winning personality for the person making hiring
- Be tactful about addressing income
requirements. Give a range, and try to avoid giving specifics
by replying, "I would be willing to consider your best offer."
- If the interview is conducted by
phone, it is helpful to have note cards with your vital
information sitting next to the phone. That way, whether
the interviewer catches you sleeping or vacuuming the floor,
you will be able to switch gears quickly.
Committee interviews are a common practice. You will face
several members of the company who have a say in whether you
are hired. When answering questions from several people, speak
directly to the person asking the question; it is not necessary
to answer to the group. In some committee interviews, you
may be asked to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. The
committee will outline a situation and ask you to formulate
a plan that deals with the problem. You don't have to come
up with the ultimate solution. The interviewers are looking
for how you apply your knowledge and skills to a real-life
- In this situation, there is more than one interviewer.
Typically, three to ten members of a panel may conduct this
part of the selection process. This is your chance to put
your group management and group presentation skills on display.
- As quickly as possible, try to “read” the
various personality types of each interviewer and adjust
to them. Find a way to connect with each interviewer.•Remember
to take your time in responding to questions. Maintain eye
contact with the panel member who asked the question, but
also seek eye contact with other members of the panel as
you give your response
- In some committee interviews you may be asked to demonstrate
your problem solving skills. The committee will outline
a situation and ask you to formulate a plan that deals with
the problem. You don’t have to come up with the ultimate
solution. The interviewers are looking for how you apply
your knowledge and skills to a real life situation
The Directive Style
In this style of interview, the interviewer
has a clear agenda that he or she follows unflinchingly. Sometimes
companies use this rigid format to ensure parity between interviews;
when interviewers ask each candidate the same series of questions,
they can more readily compare the results. Directive interviewers
rely upon their own questions and methods to tease from you
what they wish to know. You might feel like you are being
steam-rolled, or you might find the conversation develops
naturally. Their style does not necessarily mean that they
have dominance issues, although you should keep an eye open
for these if the interviewer would be your supervisor.
Either way, remember:
- Flex with the interviewer, following
his or her lead.
- Do not relinquish complete control
of the interview. If the interviewer does not ask you for
information that you think is important to proving your
superiority as a candidate, politely interject it.
The Meandering Style
This interview type, usually used by
inexperienced interviewers, relies on you to lead the discussion.
It might begin with a statement like "tell me about yourself,"
which you can use to your advantage. The interviewer might
ask you another broad, open-ended question before falling
into silence. This interview style allows you tactfully to
guide the discussion in a way that best serves you.
The following strategies, which are helpful for any interview,
are particularly important when interviewers use a non-directive
- Come to the interview prepared with
highlights and anecdotes of your skills, qualities and experiences.
Do not rely on the interviewer to spark your memory-jot
down some notes that you can reference throughout the interview.
- Remain alert to the interviewer.
Even if you feel like you can take the driver's seat and
go in any direction you wish, remain respectful of the interviewer's
role. If he or she becomes more directive during the interview,
- Ask well-placed questions. Although
the open format allows you significantly to shape the interview,
running with your own agenda and dominating the conversation
means that you run the risk of missing important information
about the company and its needs.
The Stress Interview
The stress interview intentionally creates and promotes discomfort.
The interviewer may have an abrupt or brash attitude. Alternately,
the interviewer may stare, be silent, and spend time taking
notes. The purpose of this type of interview is to test the
candidate's ability to be assertive and handle difficult situations.
Besides wearing a strong anti-perspirant,
you will do well to:
- Remember that this is a game. It
is not personal. View it as the surreal interaction that
- Prepare and memorize your main message
before walking through the door. If you are flustered, you
will better maintain clarity of mind if you do not have
to wing your responses.
- Even if the interviewer is rude,
remain calm and tactful.
- Go into the interview relaxed and
rested. If you go into it feeling stressed, you will have
a more difficult time keeping a cool perspective.
The Behavioral Interview
In behavioural interviews, candidates are asked to respond
to questions that require examples of previous activities
undertaken and behaviours performed. To succeed at this type
of interview, be prepared to give accounts of how you have
dealt with difficulties on the job. The purpose of this type
of interview is to predict future performance based on past
Become familiar with various types of interviews, as you
may encounter interviewers who blend styles to suit the interview
objectives and to test for employment readiness.
Your responses require not only reflection,
but also organization. To maximize your responses in the behavioral
- Anticipate the transferable skills
and personal qualities that are required for the job.
- Review your resume. Any of the qualities
and skills you have included in your resume are fair game
for an interviewer to press.
- Reflect on your own professional,
volunteer, educational and personal experience to develop
brief stories that highlight these skills and qualities
in you. You should have a story for each of the competencies
on your resume as well as those you anticipate the job requires.
- Prepare stories by identifying the
context, logically highlighting your actions in the situation,
and identifying the results of your actions. Keep your responses
concise and present them in less than two minutes.
Traditional Face to Face Interview
- Most interviews are face-to-face. The most traditional
is a one-on-one conversation
- Your focus should be on the person asking questions. Maintain
eye contact, listen and respond once a question has been
- Your goal is to establish rapport with the interviewer
and show them that your qualifications will benefit their
The Audition or
For some positions, such as computer
programmers or trainers, companies want to see you in action
before they make their decision. For this reason, they might
take you through a simulation or brief exercise in order to
evaluate your skills. An audition can be enormously useful
to you as well, since it allows you to demonstrate your abilities
in interactive ways that are likely familiar to you. The simulations
and exercises should also give you a simplified sense of what
the job would be like. If you sense that other candidates
have an edge on you in terms of experience or other qualifications,
requesting an audition can help level the playing field.
To maximize on auditions, remember
- Clearly understand the instructions
and expectations for the exercise. Communication is half
the battle in real life, and you should demonstrate to the
prospective employer that you make the effort to do things
right the first time by minimizing confusion.
- Treat the situation as if you are
a professional with responsibility for the task laid before
you. Take ownership of your work.
- Brush up on your skills before an
interview if you think they might be tested.
The Group Interview
A group interview is usually designed
to uncover the leadership potential of prospective managers
and employees who will be dealing with the public. The front-runner
candidates are gathered together in an informal, discussion-type
interview. A subject is introduced and the interviewer will
start off the discussion. The goal of the group interview
is to see how you interact with others and how you use your
knowledge and reasoning powers to win others over. If you
do well in the group interview, you can expect to be asked
back for a more extensive interview.
This environment might seem overwhelming or hard to control,
but there are a few tips that will help you navigate the group
- Observe to determine the dynamics
the interviewer establishes and try to discern the rules
of the game. If you are unsure of what is expected from
you, ask for clarification from the interviewer.
- Treat others with respect while
exerting influence over others.
- Avoid overt power conflicts, which
will make you look uncooperative and immature.
- Keep an eye on the interviewer throughout
the process so that you do not miss important cues.
The Tag-Team Interview
Expecting to meet with Ms. Glenn, you
might find yourself in a room with four other people: Ms.
Glenn, two of her staff, and the Sales Director. Companies
often want to gain the insights of various people when interviewing
candidates. This method of interviewing is often attractive
for companies that rely heavily on team cooperation. Not only
does the company want to know whether your skills balance
that of the company, but also whether you can get along with
the other workers. In some companies, multiple people will
interview you simultaneously. In other companies, you will
proceed through a series of one-on-one interviews.
Some helpful tips for maximizing on this interview format:
- Treat each person as an important
individual. Gain each person's business card at the beginning
of the meeting, if possible, and refer to each person by
name. If there are several people in the room at once, you
might wish to scribble down their names on a sheet of paper
according to where each is sitting. Make eye contact with
each person and speak directly to the person asking each
- Use the opportunity to gain as much
information about the company as you can. Just as each interviewer
has a different function in the company, they each have
a unique perspective. When asking questions, be sensitive
not to place anyone in a position that invites him to compromise
confidentiality or loyalty.
- Bring at least double the anecdotes
and sound-bites to the interview as you would for a traditional
one-on-one interview. Be ready to illustrate your main message
in a variety of ways to a variety of people.
- Prepare psychologically to expend
more energy and be more alert than you would in a one-on-one
interview. Stay focused and adjustable.
The Lunch Time Interview
For many, interviewing over a meal
sounds like a professional and digestive catastrophe in the
making. If you have difficulty chewing gum while walking,
this could be a challenge. With some preparation and psychological
readjustment, you can enjoy the process. Meals often have
a cementing social effect-breaking bread together tends to
facilitate deals, marriages, friendships, and religious communion.
Mealtime interviews rely on this logic, and expand it.
Particularly when your job requires
interpersonal acuity, companies want to know what you are
like in a social setting. Are you relaxed and charming or
awkward and evasive? Companies want to observe not only how
you handle a fork, but also how you treat your host, any other
guests, and the serving staff.
Some basic social tips help
ease the complexity of mixing food with business:
- Take cues from your interviewer,
remembering that you are the guest. Do not sit down until
your host does. Order something slightly less extravagant
than your interviewer. If he badly wants you to try a particular
dish, oblige him. If he recommends an appetizer to you,
he likely intends to order one himself. Do not begin eating
until he does. If he orders coffee and dessert, do not leave
him eating alone.
- If your interviewer wants to talk
business, do so. If she and the other guests discuss their
upcoming travel plans or their families, do not launch into
- Try to set aside dietary restrictions
and preferences. Remember, the interviewer is your host.
It is rude to be finicky unless you absolutely must. If
you must, be as tactful as you can. Avoid phrases like:
"I do not eat mammals," or "Shrimp makes my eyes swell and
- Choose manageable food items, if
possible. Avoid barbeque ribs and spaghetti.
- Find a discrete way to check your
teeth after eating. Excuse yourself from the table for a
- Practice eating and discussing something
- Thank your interviewer for the meal.
Telephone interviews are merely screening interviews meant
to eliminate poorly qualified candidates so that only a few
are left for personal interviews. You might be called out
of the blue, or a your telephone call to check on your resume
might turn into an interview. Your mission is to be invited
for a personal face-to-face interview. Some tips for telephone
Anticipate the dialogue. Write a general
script with answers to questions you might be asked. Focus
on skills, experiences, and accomplishments. Practice until
you are comfortable. Then replace the script with cue cards
that you keep by the telephone.
Keep your notes handy. Have any key information,
including your resume, notes about the company and any cue
cards you have prepared next to the phone. You will sound
prepared if you have you don't have to search for information.
Make sure you also have a notepad and pen so you can jot down
notes and any questions you would like to ask at the end of
Be prepared to think on your feet. If you are asked to participate
in a role-playing situation, give short but concise answers.
Accept any criticism with tact and grace.
Avoid salary issues. If you are asked how
much money you would expect, try to avoid the issue by using
a delaying statement or give a broad range with a $15,000
spread. At this point, you do not know how much the job is
Push for a face-to-face meeting. Sell yourself
by closing with something like: "I am very interested
in exploring the possibility of working in your company. I
would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in person
so we can both better evaluate each other. I am free either
Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. Which would be better
Try and reschedule surprise interviews.
You will not be your best with a surprise interview. If you
were called unexpectedly, try to set an appointment to call
back by saying something like: "I have a scheduling conflict
at this time. Can I call you back tomorrow after work, say