Creative Job Search
On-line Job Search Guide

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Types of Interviews

The purpose of an interview is to get acquainted and to learn about one another. Employers evaluate your qualifications for the job. You help them with this evaluation by coming prepared to sell your skills and experience. It is also an opportunity for you to evaluate the employer. As this learning process takes place, both parties develop expectations.

You may experience different kinds of interviews during your job search. It is important that you understand the purpose of each. Three very common types of interviews are: telephone screening, in-person screening and the selection interview. No matter which type of interview, your goal is to present your qualifications to the final decision maker (the person who makes the decision to hire). Not everyone you come into contact with will be the decision maker. However, you should treat each person as though they have the authority to hire you.

Telephone Screening Interview

This interview saves the employer time by eliminating candidates based on essential criteria such as employment objective, education or required skills. Since these interviews will often occur unexpectedly, it is important that your job search records are organized and kept where you can reach them at a moment's notice.

In-Person Screening Interview

This interview is used to verify the candidate's qualifications for the position and to establish a preliminary impression of the candidate's attitude, interest and professional "style." This interview is most often conducted by a professional screener from the company's Human Resources department. At this stage, the goal is to select candidates to meet with the decision maker.

Selection Interview

Conducted by the decision maker, the purpose of this interview is to probe the candidate's qualifications and to assess the "comfort level" with which the candidate might establish working relationships. There may be numerous interviews at this stage. As the number of candidates is "whittled down," you may be invited back to speak with the same person and/or with other managers or members of the work group. Each time, your ability to establish rapport and present yourself as the right person for the position is critical to achieving the next step.

Even if there is only one decision maker, the opinions of the others will be sought and will probably have an effect on the outcome. When you are invited to interview with a number of people it is important that you present yourself effectively to each one of them. Remember, they will be evaluating your skills and ability to "fit in." As always, be yourself, but "sell" to each person's individual concerns.

Other types of interviews include:

Work Sample Interview

This interview is done to allow the applicant an opportunity to "show their wares." It could be the place for a graphic artist to display his/her portfolio. A salesperson will be allowed to make a sales presentation. Word processing a business letter may be an appropriate work sample for an office worker.

Peer Group Interview

This interview is an opportunity for you to meet and talk with your prospective coworkers. Just as in other interviews, the peer group will be evaluating you, determining how you "fit."

Group Interview

Sometimes referred to as a panel interview, it usually consists of three or more people, all firing questions at you. Direct your answer to the individual asking the question, but strive to maintain some eye contact with the other members of the group.

Luncheon Interview

"The Meal" - This type of interview assesses how well you can handle yourself in a social situation. Company representatives may include the hiring manager, a Human Resource Department member, and one or more peer employees. Choose your meal selection carefully. Will it be easy to eat? Spilling on your blouse or tie is not likely to make a favorable impression.

Stress Interview

A stress interview introduces you not to an interviewer, but to an interrogator. The interview is one in which you're treated as though you're the enemy. The "interrogator" asks you a number of offensive questions that are designed to deliberately make you uncomfortable. Keep your cool, take your time in responding to the questions, and when its all over, reward yourself.

Video Conference Interview

Some companies today use video conferences to conduct meetings or carry out other aspects of their business. Conducting an interview via video conference enables a company to save travel costs and still have, in effect, a "person-to-person" interview. If the thought of facing a camera during an interview frightens you, practice before a video camera or a mirror.

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This page was last updated on April 17, 1997
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