Traditional Interview Structures

In the world of job interviewing, many companies rely on several traditional types of interviews to assess candidate suitability for a position. Here are some of the more common types of interview structures, and how to handle each approach.

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Unscheduled Telephone Interview: A company calls when you are not expecting it, perhaps to schedule an in-person interview or to ask several follow-up questions about your rsum and cover letter.

  • Prepare a few go-to answers to common interview questions ahead of time so that you have some material ready to go at a moments notice. Put an interview packet together with your rsum and general interview questions/responses that you can reference while on the phone.
  • If you get a phone call at a bad time, request a scheduled call-back time. This will allow you to clear distractions and be better prepared for a telephone-screening interview. The potential employer will appreciate your desire to focus your full attention on the interview.

Scheduled Telephone Interview: Companies often use these to pre-screen candidates, especially those who live out of town. Because this format lacks the opportunity for face-to-face rapport, some people regard this as one of the more difficult interview types.

  • Sit at a desk or table during the interview, if possible.
  • Have your rsum and important conversation points nearby for easy reference.
  • You may wish to dress as if it's a professional interview to help you maintain the proper mindset.
  • Before the interview, locate lists of common interview questions or create your own. Practice your answers using a tape recorder to hear how you sound to others. Speak clearly and confidently.

Skype/Web Video Interview: Web-based interviews allow companies to combine elements of a telephone and an in-person interview. Theyre also useful for pre-screening, or to interview candidates who are not yet in the office location. Face-to-face rapport is possible, which gives you more communication tools than a telephone interview.

  • Familiarize yourself with the software being used, so that you aren't worried about hitting the right buttons during the actual interview. If you can't access the exact software to practice, use Skype or another free service with a friend, so that you can both practice the format and tell your interviewer that you're generally familiar with web video software, and just need a little guidance for the specific program they're using.
  • Practice making eye contact with your webcams lens, not the displays on your computer screen.
  • Remember that the interviewer can see most of your movements. Dont fidget or move around a great deal; the video quality will become jerky and distracting for both of you.
  • Clean up the room where you'll be sitting for the interview. Look at the overall view from your webcam: does it present you as an organized, prepared candidate? Are there any items that you should temporarily clear or decorations you should take down?
  • Alert your household of the day and time of the interview, so that they know to keep noise at a minimum and not to enter the interview room during that time.
  • Dress as you would for an in-person interview.
  • At the time of your interview, shut the interview rooms doors and windows so that pets, noises from outdoors, and other distractions are eliminated as much as possible.
  • Turn off any other programs that might distract you during the interview, such as email popup notifications.
  • If anything *does* go wrong with your setup, despite your best preparations, show off how well you can deal with the unexpected. Keep calm, handle it professionally, then get back on track.

Behavioral Interview: The interviewer uses your previous actions and accomplishments to assess probable future behavior and potential success in the position. Questions ask you to prove the skills you have included in your resume or in a previous interview. You may be asked to describe a particular situation or example that illustrates your skills.

  • Use a Condition, Action, Benefit (CAB) approach: Briefly describe the condition/problem, overview the action you took in response, and highlight your benefit to the company.
  • Review your rsum: for each skill stated, reflect on professional, volunteer, or educational experiences and develop a CAB story to highlight that skill.
  • Write these CAB stories in advance and be comfortable relating specific facts and details.
  • Quantify benefits and results. Instead of saying an action saved the company money, name a specific amount or percentage.

Stress Interview: This type of interview may be used for positions in fast-paced, high-stress environments and industries. In this format, an interviewer exposes you to stressful elements intentionally to assess your response. This may include long waits, abrupt questions with cold stares, spilling something on you, or requiring you to complete a task and answer questions simultaneously. Unless you have inside information from the contact, you will probably not know in advance if the interview will be in this format.

  • Remember, a stress interview is not personal. It is designed to test your ability to handle a stressful environment.
  • Prepare as you would for any other interview: memorize your main points and go into the interview as relaxed as possible.
  • If you are well-prepared to discuss your strengths, accomplishment, and potential benefit to the employer, you will be less flustered if the interviewer introduces intentional stressors.


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Posted in Business Other Post Date 11/27/2015