In this post, we’ll examine the different types of job interviews. A few of the most common types of interviews are: One-on-one interviews, panel interviews, group interviews, video interviews, phone interviews, and dining interviews. Let’s take a quick look at each type of interview.
Most interviews are traditional interviews, conducted one-on-one, in person. In a one-on-one interview, the interviewer is likely to be the manager of the department to which you are applying—again, your future boss. Most one-on-one interviews take place at the job site, or at least in the same building. One-on-one interviewing is what most job candidates are most comfortable with, and what most people have experience with. During a one-on-one interview, the best tips are easy to follow: Stay focused on the interviewer, pay close attention to what he or she is saying, and make sure to maintain good eye contact.
In a panel interview, the job candidate is interviewed by several people from the company at once. Panel interviews are conducted to save time and gain collective opinions from different employees in the company. Typically, a panel interview will include a representative from human resources, as well as a manager or department head from the division to which you are applying. Sometimes the panel will include employees from the company who will be working alongside the new employee, or even representatives from the legal department, PR department, or payroll department. During a panel interview, keep two things in mind: First, it’s not important to figure out who is the “most in charge” of the interview. Imagine that every person on the panel is in an equal position of power, and don’t spend too much time trying to figure out “who they are” at the company. Second, be mindful of your eye contact. Members of the panel will ask questions relevant to their departments. Keep your eyes on the person asking the question, and answer that person directly—but also maintain secondary eye contact with the other members of the panel by looking at each of them briefly while you are formulating your answers, or while you’re waiting for the next question.
In a group interview, several job candidates are interviewed at once. If you are scheduled for a group interview, it is a good indication that many candidates have applied for the position. Group interviews are typically divided into two or three parts: First, the group of candidates will be given a brief presentation about the company, during which the main points of the job and other general details will be given to the entire group. After the presentation, there is often a group question-and-answer session, and then each candidate is given a few minutes for a one-on-one interview. During a group interview, company representatives are often watching to see how candidates interact with each other. If you take part in a group interview, try to demonstrate leadership without being a bully. Don’t ask too many questions or dominate the conversation. But don’t stay too quiet, or you may get lost in the crowd. After a group interview, be sure to follow-up thoroughly.
In a videoconferencing interview, job candidates are interviewed via video camera. This is usually done when the candidate lives a long way from the job location. If you are scheduled for a video interview, keep a few things in mind: First, be mindful of the background that the interviewer will see during your interview. If it’s a webcam interview, try to set yourself up so that you are sitting in front of a solid background, facing a light source. If the light is coming from behind you, your face will look dark to your interviewer. Practice for a video interview in front of a camera if you find the experience uncomfortable. And keep your answers short and your voice up when participating in a video interview.
Telephone interviews are similar to videoconference interviews, in that they are usually conducted when the parties are geographically far from each other. There is one really great benefit to a phone interview, which is that you can keep notes in front of you to reference during the interview. If you are scheduled for a phone interview, keep these things in mind: First, make sure that the interviewer is done asking the question before you begin your answer. Over the phone, it’s harder to pick up on cues about when a person is done speaking. To avoid talking over the interviewer, leave a short pause after the question before beginning your answer. Second, if you’re able to schedule your phone interview for a “landline” rather than using a cell phone, you’ll have a clearer connection. Third, make sure that you’re someplace quiet during your phone interview. Turn off any music, fans, or other devices that might contribute background noise. Finally, smile when you speak. It really makes a difference when you’re answering questions. Speaking while you smile conveys a sense of enthusiasm and approachability.
Finally, let’s look at dining interviews. Dining interviews are sometimes scheduled as second interviews, and they are mainly designed to see how you behave under pressure. If you are scheduled for a dining interview, keep a few things in mind: First, don’t be too casual. Even though you are eating together, this is still a business exchange. Second, if your interview is at a restaurant, research the menu in advance. That way, you can plan what you will order beforehand, which will reduce your anxiety. When your interviewer is looking at his or her menu, you can pretend to look over yours, which will give you a few extra moments to gather your thoughts and adjust to your surroundings. Third, order something that’s not too expensive, and not too messy. Choose something that you can eat without paying a lot of attention, so that you can stay focused on the conversation, not the food. Unless your interviewer is doing so, avoid ordering food that is eaten with the hands—choose something that requires the use of a fork and knife. Finally, mind your manners. Put a napkin on your lap, be kind to the staff at the restaurant, and always project an image of confidence and friendliness.