How to Handle Different Types of Interviews

How to be prepared for all phases of a Job Interview

How to Handle Different Types of Interviews

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.” 

  • If you are asked, “What are your career goals and future plans” the interviewer may want to know if your plans are consistent with those of their organization. You should let them know that you are an ambitious person and want to advance within their company.
  • Another question that may be asked is “What are your salary expectations?” This is a delicate question and should be handled carefully. Always wait for the interviewer to ask this question, and if you have to give a number, give a range or say the salary is negotiable.


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:

  • Personality can go a long way, but it’s not as important to the screener as verifying your qualifications. Answer their questions clearly and directly.
  • Be tactful about addressing income requirements. Give a range, and try to avoid giving specifics. You don’t want to lose your leverage this early in the interview process.
  • If the interview is conducted by phone, it is helpful to have your resume and a few notes highlighting your strengths ready.


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.

  • You should be able to pinpoint prospective employers. Through your interview you’ll develop an understanding of what it’s like to work for specific companies or individuals, and you’ll be able to make informed decisions about what employer would be a good match for you.
  • You will expand your list of contacts by collecting names from the employer with whom you interview.
  • You will gather information from your interviewers that, during your later job interviews, will help you show prospective employers that you’ve done your homework.

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:

  • Pay attention to the interviewer. Even if you feel like you can take the interview in any direction you wish, remain respectful of the interviewer’s role. If he or she becomes more directive during the interview, acknowledge their move and adjust accordingly.
  • Come to the interview prepared with highlights of your skills, achievements and experiences. Do not rely on the interviewer to spark your memory. Jot down some notes that you can reference throughout the interview.
  • Ask well-placed questions. Although the open format allows you to shape the interview, you don’t want to run the risk of missing important information about the company and its core needs.


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.

  • Even if the interviewer is rude, remain calm and tactful.
  • Remember that this is a game. It is not personal.
  • 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 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:

  • Any of the qualities and skills you have included in your resume are potential probing points for the interviewer.
  • Anticipate the transferable skills and personal qualities that are required for the job.
  • Keep in mind the situations you have been in, and identify the results of your actions. Present them in less than a couple minutes.
  • 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 stories for each of the competencies on your resume as well as those you anticipate the job will require.


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:

  • Be professional and take responsibility for the task before you.
  • Get a clear understanding of the instructions and expectations for the exercise, and if there’s a time limit to complete it. 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.
  • Do some role playing and brush up on your skills before an interview if you think they might be tested.


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.


  • Follow the interviewer’s lead.
  • Maintain 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.
How to Handle Different Types of Interviews

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:

  • Treat others with respect while exerting influence over others.
  • Observe the dynamics and the interviewer’s rules of the game. If you are unsure of what is expected from you, ask for clarification from the interviewer.
  • Keep an eye on the interviewer throughout the process so that you do not miss important cues.
  • Use this 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 or her to compromise confidentiality or loyalty.
  • Treat each person as an important individual. Get 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 want to jot 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 as you ask each question.

Multiple Interviews

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:

  • If your interviewer wants to talk business, do so. If he or she and the other guests discuss their upcoming weekend plans or their families, do not launch into business just yet.
  • Avoid foods that have been historically known to be messy, such as barbeque ribs and spaghetti.
  • 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 insists you try a particular dish, oblige him unless it conflicts with your diet or religious beliefs. Do not begin eating until he does. If he orders coffee and dessert, do not leave him eating alone.
  • Practice eating and discussing something important simultaneously.
  • Thank your interviewer for the meal.
  • Who pays for the meal? Traditionally, the interviewer will pay for the meal.



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:

  • Elaborate on what you have to offer and your interest in the position.

Be tactful with probing questions. You want to learn more about the internal company dynamics and culture.

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at


Tough Interview Questions and How to Overcome Them

Tough Interview Questions and How to Overcome Them

Tough Interview Questions and How to Overcome Them

Chances are you’ll be presented with tough interview questions. How you answer them might determine whether or not you get the job. Here’s a guide to help you overcome them.  

The interviewer has a vested interest in protecting their company. Don’t lose sight of why he or she asks the questions he asks. He or she will ask you questions to identify discrepancies in your employment history, red flags, or limitations in your skills or abilities to do the job. Let’s say, for example, you took time off of work to open a business or took maternity leave to raise a child. That gap in employment on your resume might raise a red flag.  

Do you have a good reason for it? Do you know how to answer these types of questions? Questions such as these are difficult to answer for most people, and many candidates respond by rambling on. Know how to respond to these critical questions.

There are three steps involved in answering typical interview questions:


1) Understand what the interviewer wants to find out. He or she might have an agenda for the interview. They might be wondering if you are dependable, able to adapt, or a team player.


2) Don’t give too much information. Saying less is actually better. Only answer questions you are asked. Present the answer in a way that is to your “best” advantage.


3) Take your time and respond to questions asked. If you know what they are looking for, you can respond by selling the skills and accomplishments that are relevant to the employee’s concerns.

Here are some tough questions:

  • Why are you looking for a new position?
  • Your education does not match with the requirements of the position. Why did you apply for the position?
  • What are your compensation expectations?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • Why were you fired from your last job?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • There appears to be a gap in employment from X date to Y date, is there a reason for that?
  • Your background doesn’t exactly match the job description, why did you apply for this job?

Having answers to these questions is going to be important. You don’t want to come across in the interview as ill prepared, or hesitate to find answers to these questions.

It’s important to know that some employers are more likely to hire someone who presents him or herself well, rather than a candidate with extensive credentials. The safest way to answer questions is to emphasize your strongest personal strengths, backing them up with examples that demonstrate your value to the company.


Establishing Rapport with the Interviewer

Establishing Rapport with the Interviewer

Establishing Rapport With the Interviewer

Making a positive impression on the interviewer will go a long way, in some ways it can help you get the job.

So, connecting with the interviewer is important. This requires more than just smooth talking, dressing sharply, dropping names of high-profile contacts in the industry, or just plain being polite. It helps if your personalities click and you both have some common interests. But you don’t need to rely on mutual interests to establish a good rapport with the interviewer. A way to generate good vibes is to listen attentively. However, this does not mean that you need to ask them about their personal likes and dislikes.  


Use empathetic body language.

HANDSHAKE: Your handshake should be firm but not too aggressive. Extend your hand so it is perpendicular to the floor. If you extend your hand with your palm facing down, you indicate that you need to be in control. If you extend your hand with your palm facing up, you can appear overly docile. Try extending your hand with your palm relatively flat, so that you offer to make full contact with the other person’s hand. If you cup your hand, you indicate that you distrust the other person. Avoid a fist bump in the interview since this is reserved for someone who is close to the interviewer. Keep it professional. 

POSTURE: Leaning back shows boredom or gives the impression of insolence. It is better to sit up straight and lean forward slightly, facing the interviewer directly. Crossing your arms in front of you may indicate that you are defensive. Try to keep your arms open, even if your legs are crossed.

EYE CONTACT: Eye contact is crucial. Look the person in the eye when you are speaking and listening. To avoid giving the interviewer the impression that you are bored, look away to the left or right.

Mirror the interviewer.

If you notice the interviewer is smiling, smile back. But if the interviewer smokes, don’t light up. Mirroring works not only for behaviors, but also verbal statements. Again, this listening tool should be used with discretion. Too much can be awkward, so be alert and watch for your cue.


Ask clarifying questions.

If you do not fully understand a question, ask for clarification. Doing so signals to the interviewer that you are interested in what he or she is saying. These questions can be tricky, however If you ask questions that seek clarification on issues that are tangential to the interviewer’s communication, they derail the person’s train of thought and cause people to become defensive or withdrawn. Yet asking questions that ask for repeat information will give the interviewer the impression that you are not paying attention. Before interrupting the interviewer to clarify a point, make sure that you are listening attentively. Follow the train of thought of the speaker, and then pose a question.


Ask open-ended questions. 

Open-ended questions allow the interviewer to respond as he or she desires, and also demonstrates that you are open to what the interviewer says. The responses might challenge your assumptions, so they mitigate miscommunication. They also allow you to steer the interview in a way that gives you information about the company and job. The information you gather from these questions will assist you in evaluating the interviewer and the company.


How to Ace Telephone Job Interviews

How to Ace Telephone Job Interviews

How to Ace Telephone Job Interviews

Getting past an interview screener so you can be invited in for a face-to-face interview is what you want at this stage.


A good resume with impressive credentials may not be enough to get you the face-to-face interview that you want.

Most companies will probably have you go through an initial phone screening interview to make sure you meet the minimum qualifications and requirements that the human resources recruiter or hiring manager has specified in the job description.

Based on the way I do pre-qualifying phone screens, I normally shortlist ten to fifteen candidates who best match the job requirements, then I invite about five of those candidates in for a face-to-face interview who have exhibited the qualities and skills needed for the role.

It’s important to know that the goal of the interviewer is to gather enough information to determine whether or not they want to pursue you as a serious candidate, and take the next step in the interview process with you.

Here are some helpful tips that should help you ace the telephone interview, so you can be invited to a face-to-face interview.


Pre-Interview Preparation: You will typically have one of two phone interview scenarios. A scheduled interview and an unscheduled interview. If you have already scheduled and confirmed a phone interview, then that’s great!

The unscheduled interview might come in the form of a call to ask if you have a few minutes to talk about the job opportunity you applied for. This type of call might also come at a bad time when you can’t talk because you’re not in a place where you can talk comfortably.

In cases like these, it’s best to politely ask the phone screener if you can schedule the call for another time that works better for you and them.

Make sure you are in an environment that is comfortable to talk in, and that you have no distractions or background noise.


Do your homework and research the company: The most efficient research tool is the internet. Visit the employer’s home page, read articles written about the company, and go to forums, blogs or video stories that list the company with related articles about how they do business, etc.

A good source I would recommend is LinkedIn. It is likely that they will ask if you know anything about their company or what they do. Having relevant company information in front of you will help if they ask any questions.


Keep a positive attitude: Maintain a high level of energy throughout the phone interview. You don’t want to put the person on the other end to sleep. Start with proper posture while you’re speaking on the phone. Smile when you ask and answer questions. Keep a bottle of water handy in case you get dry mouth. Relax and take a few deep breaths before the interview starts.


Take Notes: Having notes with answers to certain questions should help you breeze through some of the recruiter’s questions. When answering their questions, make sure you don’t sound like you are reading from a script. It will sound obvious and they can pick up on things like that.



Listen carefully before you speak: Make sure you speak directly into the telephone and avoid using the speakerphone on your home phone or cell phone. You want to make sure you hear things like the persons first and last name, the company name or division they work for, their job role or title, why the position is open, and other important information that you will need to know.


Be ready to spend fifteen to thirty minutes on the phone: A typical phone interview will likely last between fifteen to thirty minutes. An interview phone screener will have a series of questions that they will ask you to determine if you are a good fit for the role.


How to address the Interviewer: Address the interviewer by their last name…..Mr. or Mrs. unless they say it is OK to call them by their first name. If you feel a connection on the phone, you can politely ask if you can address them by their first name.


Interview Focus: You should be focused on the interview. Don’t eat or chew gum, or have any other distractions that will not allow you to be laser focused on the interview. If you are near your computer or any device that gets notifications or pings of any kind, you want to turn those off, or be in a room or area where they will not distract or disrupt your call.


Ask clarifying questions: You should be able to learn the correct spelling of the interviewer’s name and everything you wanted to know about the position by the end of the interview.

Make a list of questions before the interview to make sure you fully understand the role, the position expectations, schedule and reporting times, compensation, and other related questions.


Turn off call waiting on your mobile phone: If you knew they were going to call, make sure to turn off call waiting. Distractions from other people calling your phone will give the interviewer the impression that you didn’t care enough to take this preventable step. You might want to make sure your mobile phone is fully charged as well.


If you are calling from a landline: Be sure to turn off your mobile phone. I would recommend you completely turn it off, or put it in a room where you are not able to see any calls coming in.


Give accurate and detailed contact information: This information should be clearly displayed on your cover letter and resume so your interviewers can easily connect with you.


Make sure you know which job and company you applied to: I see this all the time. I call someone to talk about a position I have open, and they mistaken my position for another one that is similar to mine. Don’t get confused between the different jobs for which you’ve applied.

Keep track of all the positions you applied to, when you applied, what was the specific title of the position, and the company name. Make sure you have the correct job description, company and contact person’s name in from of you so you know exactly who you are talking to, and the position you are talking about. It would help to do a LinkedIn search to find out a little more about the person, their title/role, etc.

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at



How to be prepared for all phases of a Job Interview

How to be prepared for all phases of a Job Interview

How to be prepared for all phases of a Job Interview

Each phase of a job interview will be different. It’s important to know where you are in the process, and how you can leverage each stage of an interview.

Job interviews are a two-way discussion between you and a prospective employer. The interviewer is attempting to determine whether you have what the company needs, and you are attempting to determine if you would accept the job if offered. Both of you will be trying to get as much information as possible in order to make those decisions.

Traditional Format

The interview that you are most likely to face is a structured interview with a traditional format. It usually consists of three phases. The introductory phase covers the greeting, small talk, and an overview of which areas will be discussed during the interview. T

Middle Phase

The middle phase is a question-and-answer period. The interviewer asks most of the questions, but you are given an opportunity to ask questions as well. The closing phase gives you an opportunity to ask any final questions you might have, cover any important points that haven’t been discussed, and get information about the next step in the interview process.

Introductory Phase

This phase is very important. You want to make a good first impression and, if possible, get additional information you need about the job and the company.

Make a good first impression. You only have a few seconds to create a positive first impression, and that impression can influence the rest of the interview and even determine whether you get the job.

The interviewer’s first impression of you is based mainly on your body language. The interviewer is assessing your overall appearance and demeanor. When greeting the interviewer, be certain your handshake is firm and make eye contact.

Wait for the interviewer to signal you before you sit down. Once seated, find a comfortable position so that you don’t appear tense or uncomfortable. Lean forward slightly and maintain eye contact with the interviewer.

Your posture shows that you are interested in what is being said. Smile naturally and show that you are open and receptive by keeping your arms and legs uncrossed.

Avoid keeping your briefcase or handbag on your lap. Try to appear relaxed and confident.

Use your knowledge of company information. You should get this information about the company in advance. Be sure to prepare your questions in advance as well.

Ask questions. Deciding exactly when to ask your questions can be tricky. Your chance to ask questions in the traditional interview is typically late in the interview. How can you get the information you need early in the process without making the interviewer feel that you are taking control? Timing is everything.

You may have to make a decision based on intuition and your first impressions of the interviewer. Does the interviewer seem comfortable or nervous, soft spoken or forceful, formal or casual?

These signals will help you to judge the best time to ask your questions. The sooner you ask the questions, the less likely you are to disrupt the interviewer’s intent or agenda. However, if you ask questions too early, the interviewer may feel you are trying to control the interview.

Try asking questions right after the greeting and small talk. Since most interviewers like to set the tone of the interview and maintain initial control, always phrase your questions in a way that leaves control with the interviewer.

Perhaps you can say, “Would you mind telling me a little more about the job so that I can focus on the information that would be most important to you and the company?” You may want to wait until the interviewer has given an overview of what will be discussed.

This overview may answer some of your questions or may provide some details that you can use to ask additional questions later.

How to be prepared for all phases of a Job Interview

Middle Phase

During this phase of the interview, you will be asked many questions about your work experience, skills, education, activities, and interests. This is the assessment part of the interview. The interviewer wants to know how you will perform the job in relation to the company objectives.

Your responses should be clear and concise. Use specific examples to illustrate your point whenever possible. Although your responses should be well-phrased and effective, be sure they do not sound rehearsed.

Remember that your responses must always be adapted to the present interview. Incorporate any information you obtained earlier in the interview with the responses you had prepared in advance and then answer in a way that is appropriate to the question.

Below are frequently asked questions and suggested responses. Give a specific example to illustrate your point for each question.

How to be prepared for all Phases of a Job Interview

What is your weakest attribute? (A stress question)

“I’m a stickler for punctuality and promptness.” “I’m tenacious.” “I’m a perfectionist.”

What is your strongest attribute?

“I am organized and manage my time well.” “I work well under pressure.” “I am motivated and eager to learn.”

What do you hope to be doing five years from now?

“I hope to still work here and have increased my level of responsibility based on my performance and abilities.”

What do you know about our company? Why do you want to work here?

“You are a leading provider of widgets on the West Coast.” “Your company has a superior product/service.” “Your company has the largest market share for your product in the world.” “Your company is a leader in your field and growing.”

It would help if you try to get the interviewer to give you additional information about the company by saying that you are very interested in learning more about the company objectives. This will help you to focus your response on relevant areas.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Give a specific illustration from your previous or current job where you saved the company money, helped increase profits, or improved processes. If you have just graduated from college, try to find some accomplishment from your school work, part-time jobs, volunteer work, or extra-curricular activities.

Why should we hire you? (A stress question)

Highlight your background based on the company’s current needs. Recap your qualifications keeping the interviewer’s job description in mind. If you don’t have much experience, talk about how your education and training prepared you for this job.

Some Questions You Should Ask

“Could you give me a more detailed job description?” “What are the company’s current challenges?” “Why is this position open?” “Are there opportunities for advancement?” “To whom would I report?”

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at