Depending on the type of industry you are in, the level of the role you are interviewing for and the types of requirements needed for a particular role, you may encounter one or more of the following types of interviews. Not all interviewers are created equal, so it is crucial to be prepared for anything!
Employers are starting the interview process more and more these days with a phone interview even prior to the face-to-face interview. Time considerations and travel costs have all lead to an increase in the number of phone interviews being conducted in the earliest stages and even into later stages if there are important stake holders that are not located in the same geography as the candidate. Completing a successful interview is critical to moving to the 2nd phase of the interview so it should be approached with fervor and preparation.
Phone interviews are often pre-scheduled allowing you to prepare properly. However, sometimes they are often just spontaneous as a hiring manager may just pick up the phone in an effort to catch you off guard or just because they are excited about your background and want to catch up with you as soon as possible.
How to Prepare:
• Always be prepared! This means, practice discussing your background, experience and accomplishments to the point that is automatic for you and you can recite your prepared responses even when you do not have a scheduled phone interview. You never know when that phone will ring and you never want to ask to reschedule a hiring manager just because you don’t feel prepared. It is your background and your resume, so you should always know it inside and out.
• When possible make sure you are on a land line versus a cell phone. You do not want any distractions like a bad connection.
• Prepare specific examples, projects and demonstrated outcomes and create a bullet point list in your mind so you can easily access them during the phone interview if you are caught off guard by the hiring manager just calling your without a scheduled time. If it is scheduled, have a list written in front of you with key words so you can reference them easily during the call and you will avoid delays on the phone while you think of a response. Since you will not be in front of the person there will be no non-verbal cues you can use. You must be able to provide rapid fire answers which shows how well you communicate and think on your feet.
• Don’t let a pause or awkward silence throw you off. They’re a natural part of conversation, albeit more noticeable over the phone. Your interviewer is probably just taking notes or preparing their next question. Don’t feel the need to fill the silence with a nervous giggle or pointless comment, wait patiently for the interviewer to pick up the conversation.
Traditional or Standard Interviews
Traditional interviews are what most of us are accustomed to. They typical interview revolves around the interviewer asking basic questions such as:
“Tell me about yourself?”
“Why are you looking for a new role?”
“Tell me why I should hire you?”
This type of interview follows a basic format and is often a very generic and canned interaction between the candidate and the hiring manager. The interviewer typically will just read the steps of your resume and ask relevant questions.
How to Prepare:
• Create standard responses to the anticipated questions by writing down your responses and rehearsing them several times.
• Practice role-playing with a family member, friend or career coach to make sure you know your resume inside and out.
• Ensure you can elaborate on anything you have documented on your resume. Make sure you can provide additional information or back up to claims of accomplishments or skills you have listed.
• Prepare answers to describe what you have learned from each role you have held and all of the key experiences that support your background.
• Provide real-life examples to drive the point home.
Interviewers are becoming more highly skilled and often trained in conducting behavioral interviews which will help them predict future success and cohesiveness in their organization based on your past results and experiences. Typically, the hiring manager or team will have identified a set of key indicators or core competencies they feel are needed for the successful candidate to be hired. They may even employ technology based assessment tests to support their findings.
Behavioral interviews include:
• Open Ended Questions. For example, “Give me an example of a time when ________” or “Tell me about a situation you handled where you ______”
• Follow Up and Probing Questions. For example, “In the project you describe, how did you manage to increase sales revenue?”
How to Prepare:
• Make a list of a few stories, projects and/or examples of where you overcame a challenge, created a new process, increased revenue and efficiency, decreased time to perform, improved customer service, motivated yourself and so on.
• Structure you responses in a 3-part manner.
1. Part A – “What” was the task, duty, charter, situation
2. Part B – “How” did you accomplish it
3. Part C – “End Result” what was the measurable outcome or result?
• Research the organization and reach out to current and former employees via LinkedIn or other avenues so you can learn a little about the culture of the organization. It will help you understand some of the behaviors they seek in hiring candidates.
• Know the job description inside and out. Make sure you can provide relevant examples that speak directly to the key requirements of the job.
Case interviews are typically used for legal, investment/financial, medical or consulting type roles. In a case interview, the interviewer will present a real or hypothetical business problem, and ask you to analyze the situation and present how you might go about solving it.
The interviewer is usually trying to assess your critical thinking skills and general business knowledge. Normally, you’re not given enough information prior to the interview to prepare a response in advance. This type of interview not only will test your knowledge and business acumen, but also how quickly and effectively you think on your feet. They are also looking to evaluate the kinds of questions you ask about the business problem in order to effectively provide a solution. This will test your analytical skills. In a case interview, there really is no perfect answer. You’re going to be judged more on how you approach the problem than on the specific solutions you come up with.
How to Prepare:
• Since you will not know the subject or content of a Case Interview it is difficult to prepare pre-canned responses or examples. However, researching case studies, white papers and post-mortem consulting reports for your industry will help you identify key areas to question and the basic types of questions you should elicit from the interviewer to begin to prepare your solution.
• Start by fully understanding the situation, based on the information you’ve been given. This type of interview is a two-way conversation, so make sure you have a process for evaluating the data set and formulate thoughtful questions.
Most candidates may never experience a specific “stress” interview; they may feel all interviews are stressful. But a true “Stress” interview is designed to deliberately create a stressful and even hostile environment for the candidate and to evaluate how they cope. The interviewer may ask questions that seem to have no bearing on the role or to even create an emotional response from the candidate. They may perform actions that purposefully will set the candidate off and to evaluate how they compensate for that.
Stress Interview Tactics May Include:
• Asking off-the-wall or even absurd questions like “If you were a color, which one would you be?” or “What kind of super hero power would you like to have?”
• Making the candidate wait for extended periods of time before bringing them in.
• Having multiple people fire questions one after the other at the candidate without time for a real response.
• The interviewer may respond with indifference, rudeness, cockiness or the silent treatment.
How to Prepare:
• The first key to surviving a stress interview to stay calm and focused. Remember it is an interview and one designed to evoke a stress response, so take a deep breath.
• Do not take this treatment (or mis-treatment as it may appear) personally. It is all part of “stress” so approach it like any other business problem. Do not get flustered. Be calm and methodical in your responses.
• Do not ever get defensive, argumentative or aggressive. That is what they are hoping for and it will show the crack in your armor. You want to be the rock solid candidate they look to hire.