Many types of interviews are used by hiring managers. In this section, we outline the many types of interviews that you could be exposed to during the interview process. It is commonplace to experience many different interview types in the same interview session. For example, someone might ask behavioral questions as well as functional questions.
The Telephone Interview
This interview is extremely significant, as it is most likely your first verbal contact with the employer. Your goal in a telephone interview is to interest the employer enough that they invite you to come in for a face-to-face interview. An employer’s job is to assess your skills and to see if you would be a good culture fit. When asked a question, answer thoroughly but succinctly. Sometimes telephone interviewers can talk too much. If not given the opportunity, take it upon yourself to sell yourself every chance you have to speak. Make sure, however, that you show interest in the interviewer and the company/organization. Ask questions about the skills and experiences they are looking for. Listen carefully to their responses and reiterate that you match their needs perfectly through related examples of experiences in your background. Do not ask about salary! Do ask when you can expect to hear back and inquire whether you can follow up with them if you do not hear back.
The Behavioral Interview
This interview method is the most common one in use. You can expect to answer at least a few behavioral questions in any interview. The theory behind behavioral interviewing is that your past performance is indicative of future performance on the job. Therefore, interviewers will query you on specific situations you have dealt with previously. To be successful, your job is to tell stories of your relevant past accomplishments in a way that demonstrates the skills you possess and the ones the employer is seeking.
Common Behavioral Interview questions are:
- Tell me about a particular time that you didn’t get along with someone and how you handled it.
- Describe for me your process for writing press releases.
- Describe a difficult situation you have had to work with.
Your preparation will enable you to demonstrate the skills you think the employer is seeking. Behavioral questions must always be answered in the past tense utilizing the Problem – Action – Result method.
- Problem: Describe the context in which the behavior or action took place.
- Action: Logically take the interviewer through the steps you took to handle the situation or resolve the problem. Keep your answer clear and concise.
- Result: Illustrate the outcome or results of your actions. Even if you are not as successful as you would hope, it is important to make it clear that you understand the implications of the outcome and why it happened.
The Stress Interview
Some interviewers prefer to employ an interviewing style that rattles the candidate. Their intent is to see how you can handle pressure. It is difficult to adequately prepare for these types of interviews, as you most likely will not know in advance. If faced with a stress interview, employ relaxation techniques during the interview to calm yourself down. Be aware that the questions are intended to trigger a defensive response from you. Do your best to squelch the urge to react defensively and take a reasonable amount of time to answer the questions. It is not just okay, but essential that you pause before answering, taking a moment to breathe and gather your thoughts.
Some examples of stress interview questions are:
- Why is your GPA so low?
- Why were you fired from company X?
- Why are you here?
Often stress interview questions are actually presented as statements that demand a response. For example:
- I do not think you are the right person for the job.
- Sell me this pen.
Remember, stay calm, and respond with qualified and well-thought out statements.
The Technical Interview
Technical interviews are more common in the engineering and technical-related fields, where it is critical that the interviewers determine if you possess the technical skills and knowledge to do the job. To prepare, study class material, schematics, professional journals, and other relevant materials you utilize in your current job. Questions tend to be about on-the-job situations. Interviewers want to understand how you think and how you solve problems. It is not uncommon for an engineer to be asked to diagram something on the board or to work out a formula.
Some suggestions from technical interviewers for candidates include:
- Do not lie if you do not know the answer; it is okay to say you do not know.
- Your method and process is often more important than getting the right answer. Explain how you think as you work out a problem.
- Stay cool if you make a mistake.
- Show enthusiasm and passion about the subject material. This enthusiasm is contagious. If there is a particular technical aspect you are excited about and skilled in, take the interview that way to show off your talents.
- Watch your attitude. Some individuals in technical fields can present an attitude of arrogance.
The Panel Interview
Although intimidating to the candidate, some employers enjoy this method due to its efficiency. It enables each of the interviewers to hear your responses to other interviewers’ questions. The benefits to you are that you will not be asked the same question multiple times and the interview will be over much faster. It also allows you to observe the group dynamics, something that you can not observe in individual interviews. When answering a question, respond to the entire panel, not just the interviewer. Scan the audience and make eye contact with everyone as you speak.