Job Search Series – Nailing the Interview – Part 1 – Types of Interviews

“Besides getting several paper cuts in the same day or receiving the news that someone in your family has betrayed you to your enemies, one of the most unpleasant experiences in life is a job interview.” ~Lemony Snicket

It is my hope that Mr. Snicket will read the next few blog posts along with you so that he, too, might gain some snippets of advice that will help smooth the way to the job interview process.

Let’s start by taking a look at the various types of interviews you can expect to come across:

The One on One Interview

This is the classic interview in which there is one interviewer for one candidate. This interview can be the first or only interview session, or a subsequent one. In some ways, this is the easiest format for both the interviewer and the candidate as they can get to know each other in a private and intimate setting. As such, the candidate can focus on establishing a rapport, one on one, with the interviewer.  I’ll be addressing the steps to prepare, conduct and follow up on this type of interview; you’ll be able to apply such steps to all types of interviews.

The Panel Interview

The panel interview is one in which multiple interviewers meet with one candidate. This type of interview is usually arranged to eliminate the need for multiple interview sessions. You will treat this as a normal interview, but in addition:

  • Bring additional copies of your resume and other documents that you intend to present so that each panel member each as a copy or set of copies.
  • Pay attention to each interviewer; make eye contact and smile, make comments to and answer and ask questions of each interviewer. Sometimes the panel will sit directly across from the candidate, sometimes everyone will sit casually around a conference table and other times everyone might be sitting in a circle of chairs. When you are seated in a configuration where interviewers are on either side of you, remember to turn and look at each one and engage with them; sometimes a candidate will forget to do this because he or she is focused on the interviewers seated directly in front or within eyesight. Be aware of the seating and be aware of everyone.
  • You’ll be presenting to an audience, in effect, none of the members of which you can afford to overlook.
  • Ask each interviewer for his/her business card so that you may send each a separate written thank-you.

The Phone Interview

The phone interview is often a preliminary conversation to determine if an in-person or more in-depth interview should be scheduled. It’s also used when conducting time sensitive or long-distance interviews. It’s important thing to remember is that although the interviewer cannot see you it is still an official interview.  Here are some tips to present yourself professionally:

  • Dress as though you were attending an in-person interview
  • Sit up straight to project your voice from your diaphragm and sound alert.
  • Smile frequently throughout the phone call; a smile will affect how your voice sounds and will allow your friendliness and positive attitude to come through.
  • Arrange all appropriate documents and notes available for reference and to answer and ask questions.
  • Ensure that you are in a private location for the conversation and that there will be no interruptions or undo noise in the background.
  • Don’t interrupt and observe all usual courtesies.
  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time and informative discussion (if it was)
  • Politely inquire when you will hear back regarding the next step (assume there will be one). If you don’t already have it, politely ask for his/her complete name, title and contact information.
  • Be sure that the interviewer has finished and you have said your good-byes before you terminate the call on your end.

The Skype Interview

This increasingly popular approach blends the convenience of interviewing long distance with a face-to-face meeting. And, precisely because the interviewer(s) and candidate can see each other it is essential that you take the following steps:

  • Select the appropriate location and backdrop to present yourself professionally. The optimal situation would be to have a quiet office, conference room or classroom space, but if you must interview from home make sure that your surroundings are neat, attractive and professional (such as a living room, parlor, foyer or home office), no children or pets will be interrupting or phones will be ringing.
  • Turn off your Smartphone; you don’t want it to sound its dulcet tone during your interview!
  • While it’s impossible to control outside noises drifting in, such as sirens and planes, try to schedule the interview at a time that you know the neighbors will have their power mowers put away and won’t be throwing a noisy barbecue.
  • Dress and groom yourself as you would for any interview situation.
  • Sit up straight, smile and make eye contact with the camera.
  • Arrange all your documents at hand just as you would for an in-person interview.
  • Call to confirm your interview the day before.
  • If you will be at home for your Skype interview, perform a dry run by testing your equipment and select where you will be seated and place your materials for ease and convenience. Check your lighting and any other details.
  • If you will be at another location, call to confirm your reservation for the space.
  • One hour before the interview is scheduled to begin set up your system and test itl
  • Notify the interviewer at once if there are any glitches that will impact the connection.
  • When you’ve checked everything, take your place 10 minutes before the interview begins. Smile and get ready for your close up!

The Second and Subsequent Interviews

If you’re called back for a second or even a third interview, depending on the nature of the position and how competitive it is, congratulations are in order. You’ve survived the first round of cuts and are in the running. But now is not the time to rest on your laurels and become over confident. Treat all subsequent interviews with the same sharpness that you displayed at the initial interview because that worked. Make sure the same person they liked in the first interview shows up for the second. If you have a second interview suit, wear it to the second interview. If not, change it up with a different blouse, accessories and/or shoes or a different shirt and tie.

The Luncheon Interview

This type of interview isn’t so much an interview as an observation session. Usually they are conducted for highly sought after professional or trainee positions. It is the final step in evaluating whether you, as the candidate, are suited to the position by observing your table manners, conversation skills, interaction with the wait staff and general comfort level in a business entertainment situation. Either a manager will take you to lunch for a one-on-one or one or more managers will take you and the other finalists for a position to observe you all side by side. They want to know if you can be trusted with clients, senior officials and important business associates. Do you know how to order, use your napkin and utensils properly, know which is your roll and butter and make appropriate small talk? Did you turn off your cell phone, wait to be seated, pay attention to what others are saying, ask good questions and treat everyone with respect? Would you be able to conduct business over a meal? In a highly competitive situation, this is the way many managers eliminate candidates.

Special Testing Sessions

These are sessions scheduled expressly to conduct testing. They may occur either before or after the interview as part of the on-site interview process. They are used either for screening purposes or to verify that a candidate being considered  possesses the required skills or traits. Sometimes a outside company that specializes in creating and conducting such testing will oversee this portion and report the results to the hiring company.

Please join me next week to learn the next steps to nailing the interview!

Until next time,


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