Past Issues

October 03, 2011

Job Interview Types You
Need To Know About

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Different Types of Job Interviews...

By Leslie Ayres, The Job Search Guru

It's a great moment when the phone rings or you get that email responding to your resume, asking to set up an interview with you.

But what's next? All interviews are not created equal.

Understanding the different styles of interviews can help you prepare and do your best in any situation.

First, know that it's perfectly fine to ask whoever is scheduling you what you can expect at the interview.

Ask them:

  • how long you should allow for it;
  • the names and titles of the people you'll be meeting with;
  • if your meetings will be one-on-one, or if there will be a panel;
  • if there are any particular questions they'd like you to be prepared for.
Chances are that your interview will fall into one (or more) of these categories.

1. Telephone Screening

The phone screen is used to narrow down the candidate list as efficiently as possible, and is aimed at confirming details of your experience, salary level or other qualifying criteria. Often the first screen is with a recruiter.
  • Don't underestimate the importance of a phone interview.
  • Treat it as importantly as a face-to-face meeting.
  • Take the call in a private place free from distractions.
  • Have your resume, the job description and your notes in front of you.
  • If possible, use a landline.
  • Remember, they can't see you, so make sure your voice conveys your interest.
2. Personal / Face-to-Face

This is a one-on-one conversation. It is usually in person, but in today's virtual world, many times this in-depth interview will happen over the phone.

You can often get more input about the job from one-on-one conversations. Remember, your goal is to have them like you, and to think that your experience and skills are what they're looking for.
  • Make eye contact and smile.
  • Listen to the whole question before you answer.
  • If different people ask you the same question, answer each time as if it's the first time.
3. Group Interview

Some companies like to bring in several candidates together and interview them simultaneously. Or it could be a call for candidates, with many applicants in the room. How you handle it will show how you interact with peers and if you are able to engage or persuade others to your point of view.
  • Stay friendly and engaged; if you're too quiet, you won't make an impression, and if you're too talkative or dominant, you'll be annoying.
  • Make sure your confidence and personality show through.
4. Committee or Panel Interview

Many companies include a team interview with multiple people who all have some say in the hiring decision. This might include the manager, supervisor, HR person as well as key people on the team and sometimes the person who is leaving the job. This can be intimidating, but just remember to connect with each person as an individual.
  • Get each person's business card before you begin, or jot down their names, titles and where they're sitting, so you remember who's who.
  • Focus on the person who asked the question, and make eye contact, but also make sure to look at the others.
  • Don't assume who the decision-makers are. Sometimes that quiet person in the corner is actually the one who will have the final say.
5. Directive or Structured Interview

With this interview, the interviewer has a preset list of questions, and asks each candidate the same questions in the same order. This can be helpful for inexperienced interviewers, and some feel that it is more fair to candidates when they stick to a specific agenda or question list.
  • Stay on topic and be succinct so they clearly understand your answers.
  • If there is something you want them to know but that they haven't asked about, go ahead and politely share it, or ask if they'd like you to tell them more about that topic.
6. Restaurant Interview

Sales people and senior executives are often interviewed over a meal. Unless you're interviewing for a job as a food critic, this meal is not about the food. The interviewer will be looking at your social skills and etiquette, how you handle yourself and how you interact with other guests and the serving staff.
  • Follow your host's lead for ordering extras like appetizers, drinks or dessert. Do not get tipsy whatever you do.
  • Skip the messy ribs and spaghetti and order something simple (and not too expensive) that you can easily cut into small bites.
7. Behavioral Interview

Based on the belief that past performance predicts future success, behavioral interviews go more in depth to look for specific instances of times you have had to solve a problem, take initiative or do something challenging. Behavioral interview questions will be open-ended such as, "Give me an example of a time when..."
  • Prepare by knowing what the company is looking for, and have your examples and stories ready.
8. Problem-solving / Task-Oriented Interview

The interviewer wants to know how you think, so questions are more process focused, such as "Tell me what you would do if you answered a call from an angry customer" or "Describe how you'd go about designing a new logo."
  • Take a moment to think about your response before you begin speaking.
  • Give them a few sentences as an answer, and then ask if they'd like you to go into more detail.
  • If you're interviewing at a company known for its tough questions, do some online research about what you might expect.
9. Stress Interview

This kind of interview is designed to test how you react under pressure. You may be asked difficult or offensive questions that are meant to make you uncomfortable. You could be made to wait a long time, or the interviewer may be sarcastic and argumentative, or fill time with long silences and cold stares.
  • Try to stay cool, calm and collected. Keep smiling, and think of it as a game, because it is.
10. Second or Third Interview

By the second meeting with a hiring manager, you've already covered your skills and past experience. Now is the time to focus on developing rapport and to talk about a future with you in that job. The goal is to be the one they want to hire.
  • Ask them where they are in the decision process, and tell them if you want the job and why.
  • Offers are often presented in second or third interviews, so if you definitely want it, be prepared to negotiate salary or set a start date.
Leslie Ayres is The Job Search Guru. A staffing expert and executive recruiter for more than 20 years, she currently places senior executives for cutting-edge technology startups. When the dotcom crash shook the job market and many people found themselves out of work, Leslie also became a job search coach and speaker, sharing her expertise in how to get a job that fits, even in a very competitive market. To learn more, visit Leslie at:

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