Tips for Different Types of Job Interviews

To be successful in different types of job interviews, job seekers must prepare differently. There are several key interview types. In this article, I will define these for you, help you understand what to expect in each, and make your presentation sharper with valuable tips.

Job Interview Coaching

The Telephone Screening

This is the preliminary interview. Your telephone screen will enable an employer to quickly identify whether you meet basic criteria. Often, these interviews are run by human resources. They can focus on your motivations and resume, and your understanding of the job and organization.  You probably have less than thirty minutes to prove your case.

Phone Screening Tip:

Before this interview, make sure you can articulate the key experiences and skills on your resume that make you a good fit for this job. Have your resume in front of you for this open-book test. (Find out other situations where you will experience a phone interview.

The Live Screening

Like the phone screen, this is an initial interview to evaluate your professional style and the accuracy of your resume. This interview is again often run by human resources or someone besides the final decision maker. There is a critical exception. Occasionally, these live screens turn into a final multi-round interview: “Oh, while you’re here, let me introduce you to…”

Live Screening Tip:

Because of this potential surprise, you’ll have to be ready with the full gamut of preparation. Otherwise, you may end up in a meeting with the decision maker and be caught off-guard. Even if you end up over prepared, your work will help you in a later selection interview.

Selection Interview

The selection interview is the real deal. You’ll likely be meeting with several different types of people including the hiring manager, prospective team members, and a representative from human resources or management. Expect in-depth questions on your job qualifications and for this interview to last up to several hours.

Selection Tip:

In this interview, you will not only be judged by the quality of your answers. You will also be evaluated based on your ability to work well with other team members. Make sure you have powerful examples to prove your skills and establish rapport with everyone by being friendly, asking questions, and showing some personality.

Work Sample Interview

For these interviews, you will be asked to demonstrate specific job skills. In design fields, journalism and a few others, will  share your portfolio of past work. In other, more business focused fields, you may be given a sample case then be given some time to prepare, and give a presentation of your related work.

Work Sample Tip:

Review your portfolio to make sure that it’s up to date. Practice presenting material until it runs smoothly. If you can ask, others in the field for feedback before the real event.

Peer Group Interview

In this more informal meeting, your potential peers want to evaluate how well you fit in.  This interview may be held at the conference room, at a cocktail reception for potential candidates or at the lunch table.

Peer Group Tip:

Turn on your best charm without being phony. Smile and show enthusiasm. Talk about things that get you excited. Ask questions. Seek out similar interests between you and your interviewers. Do your best to remember individual names and use those names over the course of the conversation.

The Panel (or Group) Interview:

In a panel interview, three or more people will ask you questions on your qualifications and evaluate how you fit in. This is sometimes called a group interview, though group interviews may also have multiple candidates in the same room at the same time. If you aren’t sure which one you will face, just ask.

Panel Tip:

These interviews are not that different from the others you experienced.

Direct each answer to the person who asked that question, but try to maintain eye contact with all group members. Also, ask questions of the various group members. Be sure to send each of them a separate thank you note -so ask for individual business cards. (Get more advice on the panel interview)

The Stress Interview         

No your interview is not always so mean. That person is intentionally asking you questions that make you uncomfortable. The purpose of this interview is test of how you will handle stress on the job. These interviews are more common for high pressure jobs with pushy clients.

Stress Interview Tip:

Don’t take anything personally. Recognize that you are just being tested. Maintain your calm and take your time answering questions. (Learn more about preparing for stress interviews)

Video Interview

To reduce the costs of travel, many organizations have started using video interviews. While some will use an automated virtual interviewer, more often these interviews are hosted by a live person seated on the far side of a webcam. They are sometimes used as a replacement for both the screening interview and the final selection interview.

Video Tip:

It may feel a little uncomfortable for you to speak with a webcam. Do a couple practice runs so that you realize how the experience is different from a live interview. For instance nearly any hand gestures can be distracting, and if you look at the person on screen instead of looking at the camera, you won’t make eye contact. (Get more insights on preparing for virtual job interviews)

Which of these interview types will you face?

The type of interview you will encounter does not have to be a mystery. During the scheduling process, simply ask the coordinator what type of interview you can expect. That way, you focus your preparation accordingly.