You can find plenty of information on how to prepare for the traditional one-on-one job interview, but these days it’s not the only way employees are getting to know candidates. Different settings, tactics and new technologies are being used more frequently to help hiring mangers compare candidates. In the end, they all serve the purpose of evaluating your skills, experience and personality to determine if you will be a fit for the position.
Before going on your interview, be sure you know which type will be conducted. All interviews require the same basic elements for success, but each type requires you to prepare slightly differently. Below are 5 common types of job interviews, and how to succeed in them.
The Pre-interview/Phone Screen
For many positions, as a first step in the process, an HR representative will contact you for an exploratory pre-screening. The purpose is to quickly weed out any unqualified candidates and pass those who are qualified further into the process. Providing facts about your skills is the most important element.
• Ensure you are in a quiet place you can take the call without interruption.
• Be flexible, friendly, and professional.
• Remain calm; answer any questions truthfully and to the best of your ability.
• This is not the place to ask questions about salary, benefits, or other job duty details, but you should ask about next steps.
The Lunch Interview
In most cases, lunch interviews are the second or third interview in the process. Any food or drink related interview can be a little more ambiguous as far as what to expect, but the most important thing is to show how your personality will fit within the company’s culture.
• Let the host lead the conversation.
• Be prepared for polite small talk and be wary of any taboo topics such as politics.
• Do not order alcohol.
• The interview is not about the food. Be careful not to order something too expensive or messy to eat. A good rule of thumb is to order something similar to the host.
• This is a good time to ask more in-depth questions about the company or position; come prepared.
Online video interviewing is becoming a popular option, mostly due to the convenience factor. For the most part, you should treat this like a traditional one-on-one interview, only you are not in the same room. It may seem more in-formal, but it is not. The hiring manger still wants to evaluate if you are a good cultural fit with the skills and experience needed to perform.
• Find a setting with good lighting and a clean background (no clutter).
• Be sure to test out your volume and the video technology beforehand, to avoid technicalities.
• Practice looking, and speaking, at the camera rather than the screen so it appears you are making eye contact.
• Keep your phone on-hand in the event of a connection fail.
A group interview consists of more than one candidate being interviewed at the same time. It can be challenging, as you are essentially competing with the person next to you for the same position. This interview is about teamwork, leadership, and self-confidence.
• Have your elevator pitch ready. How you introduce yourself and your impression is very important here.
• Be sure you are the first to answer some of the questions, but don’t over-dominate the group.
• Manage the dynamic of your interaction with the other interviewee(s). Be sure you are answering each question directly and not getting into debates with other candidates.
• If asked to comment on something another interviewee said, do not try to knock them down, simply answer the question as you typically would.
• If in disagreement, remember that what matters most is not your answer, but how you handle differences with the other candidates.
The panel interview can seem more stressful because you are being interviewed simultaneously by several team members. This is a time-saver for the company to conduct more interviews, in less time, and gather a collective opinion of each candidate. It also shows them how participants deal with conflict of differing questions and group pressure.
• Multiple decision-makers will be in the room at once. Be sure you’ve done your research in knowing who’s who in advanced.
• When responding, make eye contact with everyone in the room, not just the person asking the questions.
• With multiple departments in the room, you may be put in a situation you disagree with something that is said; do it as politely as you can.
• Before you leave, ask for business cards from all interviewers, so you have contact information to send thank you notes to everyone.