Interviews will come in a variety of different formats, methods and styles. Here’s how to be ready for all types of interviews, and how to be prepared for them.
The Traditional Interview
In a traditional interview, you will be asked a series of questions which have pretty straightforward answers. For example: “What were major challenges you had, and how did you find a solution for them,” or “why are you looking to leave your current employer,” or “tell me about yourself.”
The Screening Interview
Companies use screening tools and techniques to ensure that candidates meet minimum qualification requirements. Computer software programs are often used to weed out unqualified candidates. The screening interviewers’ goal is to determine whether there is anything that might disqualify you for the position.
Screeners will dig for dirt and hone in on gaps in your employment history or pieces of information that look inconsistent. One of the first things the screener will need to find out is whether you will be too expensive for the company.
Things to watch out for during a screening interview:
The Informational Interview
This is on the opposite end of the stress spectrum from the screening interview. Job seekers secure informational meetings in order to seek the advice of someone in their current or desired field and to gain further references to people who can lend insight.
Employers that like to stay apprised of available talent even when they do not have current job openings are often open to informational interviews. These employers are especially likely to accept an informational interview with you if they like to share their knowledge, feel flattered by your interest, or thank the mutual friend that connected you to them. During an informational interview, the job seeker and employer exchange information and get to know one another better without reference to a specific job opening.
Informational interviews take off some of the performance pressure. The objective here it to gain valuable information, just as the employer is doing at their end.
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 is pretty typical, and can be used to your advantage. Interview styles such as these allow you to guide the discussion in a way that best serves your needs.
Here are some strategies which may prove helpful for any interview, particularly when interviewers use an indirect approach:
The Stress Interview
Employers view the stress interview as a legitimate way of determining a candidate’s aptness for a position. A potential employer in this case might purposely have you wait in the lobby before the interviewer greets you. You might face long silences or cold stares.
The interviewer might challenge your religious beliefs or your judgment. Be prepared because insults and miscommunication are common in this type of interview. All this is designed to see whether you can withstand the company culture, work environment, or other potential stress triggers.
The Situational Interview
In this interview, situations are set up to simulate common problems you might encounter on the job. Your responses to these situations are measured against predetermined standards. This approach is often used as one part of a traditional interview rather than as an entire interview format.
The Behavioral Interview
Companies increasingly rely on behavioral interviews because they use your previous behavior to predict your future performance. In these interviews, employers use standardized methods to gather information relevant to your competency in a particular area or position.
Depending on the responsibilities of the job and the working environment, you might be asked to describe a time that required problem-solving skills, leadership qualities, conflict resolution, multi-tasking, initiative, or stress management. You will be asked how you dealt with these situations. Your responses require not only reflection, but also organization of thought.
Here’s how to maximize your responses in the behavioral format:
The “Show Me” Interview
For some positions, such as engineers 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. This tilts the interview in your favor because it allows you to demonstrate your abilities through familiar challenges. The simulations and exercises should also give you a simplified sense of what the job would be like.
To maximize on this type of interview, remember to:
The Directive Style
In this style of interview, the interviewer has a clear agenda. Interviewers ask each candidate the same series of questions so they can readily compare the results of their interviews. Directive interviewers rely upon their own questions and methods to entice you with questions and gather what they would like to know. This style does not necessarily mean that they have dominance issues, although you should keep an eye open for these if the interviewer should end up being your supervisor.
The Group or “Tag Team” Interview
The group interview helps a company get a glimpse of how you interact with peers to let them know if you are timid or bossy, attentive or attention-seeking. Do others turn to you instinctively, or do you compete for authority? The interviewer also wants to know if you use argumentation or careful reasoning to gain support. The interviewer might call on you to discuss an issue with the other candidates, solve a problem collectively, or discuss your qualifications in front of the other candidates.
This environment might seem overwhelming at times, but here are a few tips that will help you interview successfully:
This type of interview is commonly used with professional jobs. This approach involves a series of interviews in which you meet individually with various representatives of the organization. In the initial interview, the representative usually attempts to get basic information on your skills and abilities. In subsequent interviews, the focus is on how you would perform the job in relation to the company’s goals and objectives.
After the interviews are completed, the interviewers meet and discuss your qualifications for the job. A variation on this approach involves a series of interviews in which unsuitable candidates are screened out at each succeeding level. It’s important to ask how many interviews are in the interview process, and who you would be interviewing with for each interview. For example, you might meet with someone in Human Resources, then a hiring manager, then team members you will be working with, and maybe even the president of the company, depending on the size of the company.
I would be suspicious of any company calling you in for a fourth or fifth interview. In cases like these, they typically want to get industry or competitor information out of you. I would be suspicious if the interviewers are jotting down notes to competitor information, or how you do things at your current company. That should be a giveaway.
The Lunch/Dinner Interview
Interviewing over a meal can go one of two ways. It can be a catastrophe, or it can help you get the job. An example of a lunch gone bad is if the interviewer or candidate has an allergic reaction to the dish they eat. With some preparation and psychological readjustment, you can enjoy the process. Meals often have a way of getting people comfortable so they can facilitate deals.
Here are some basic social tips to help ease mixing food with business:
How to prepare for a follow-up Interview
There are a number of reasons why companies bring candidates back for second and sometimes third or fourth interviews. Sometimes they just want to confirm that you are the worker they first thought you to be. Sometimes they are having difficulty deciding between a short-list of candidates. Other times, the interviewer’s supervisor or other decision makers in the company want to meet you before making a hiring decision. When meeting with the same person again, you do not need to be as assertive in communicating your skills. You can focus on building rapport, understanding where the company is going, and how your skills mesh with the company vision and culture.
Tips for managing second interviews:
For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at www.bls.com