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Types of Interviews

The Screening Interview

The screening job interview can sometimes sneak up on people. We often think it is not as important as the actual interview; however, it can be the most important, as it is the gateway to the first step in the process. The employer could be screening your computer skills, typing skills, and general knowledge as they relate to specific requirements of the job. Always be professional in voice and tone, dress and appearance, and mindful of how you treat others.

The Traditional Interview

The traditional job interview uses broad-based questions such as, "why do you want to work for this company," and "tell me about your strengths and weaknesses." Interviewing success or failure are more often based on the ability of the job-seeker to communicate than on the truthfulness or content of their answers. Employers are looking for the answer to three questions:

  • does the job-seeker have the skills and abilities to perform the job
  • does the job-seeker possess the enthusiasm and work ethic that the employer expects
  • will the job-seeker be a team player and fit into the organization


The Behavioral Interview

The behavioral job interview is based on the theory that past performance is the best indicator of future behavior, and uses questions that probe specific past behaviors, such as: "tell me about a time where you confronted an unexpected problem," "tell me about an experience when you failed to achieve a goal," and "give me a specific example of a time when you managed several projects at once. Employers use the behavioral interview technique to evaluate a candidate's experiences and behaviors so they can determine the applicant's potential for success.

Key desired behaviors:

  • Critical thinking
  • Being a self-starter
  • Willingness to learn
  • Willingness to travel
  • Self-confidence
  • Teamwork
  • Professionalism


It’s one thing to put these bullet points on your resume, but do you have past experiences (behaviors) that support or prove the statements?

Phone Interview

When being interviewed by phone, make sure you are in a place where you can read notes, take notes and concentrate. Ensure that you can hear and are being clearly heard. The dining room table works if you are in the house alone. You can use all the space to have all your papers laying flat – you don’t want them to hear you rustling through a bunch of papers to find what you are looking for. You don’t want children, pets or other outside noises to become a distraction to the person on the other end of the phone. Don't feel you have to fill in the silences. If you've completed a response, but the interviewer hasn't asked his or her next question, don't start babbling just to fill in airtime. Instead, ask a question of your own related to your last response.

The Case Interview

The case interview is an interview in which you are presented with a specific business dilemma. You are asked to analyze the situation, identify key business issues, and discuss how you would address the problems involved. Case interviews are designed to scrutinize the skills that are especially important in management consulting and related fields.

The Panel or Group Interview

This method of interviewing is often attractive for companies that rely heavily on team cooperation. The panel usually consists of the hiring manager or supervisor and other members of the team or peer managers. Not only does the company want to know whether your skills balance that of the company, but also whether you can get along with the other workers. In some companies, multiple people will interview you simultaneously. In other companies, you will proceed through a series of one-on-one interviews. In some cases you may be asked the same question in different ways from different members of the group. Don’t act put off by this repetition, and don’t say, “I’ve already answered that when Bob asked me.” Remember that each interviewer may have a different function in the company, and they each have a unique perspective. When asking questions, be sensitive not to place anyone in a position that invites him to compromise confidentiality or loyalty. Treat each person as an important individual.

The Mealtime Interview

For many, interviewing over a meal sounds like a professional and digestive catastrophe in the making. If you have difficulty chewing gum while walking, this could be a challenge. With some preparation and psychological readjustment, you can enjoy the process. Meals often have a cementing social effect – breaking bread together tends to facilitate deals, marriages, friendships and religious communion. Mealtime interviews rely on this logic and expand on it. Particularly when your job requires interpersonal acuity, companies want to know what you are like in a social setting. Are you relaxed and charming or awkward and evasive? Companies want to observe not only how you handle a fork, but also how you treat your host, any other guests and the serving staff.

Some basic social tips help ease the complexity of mixing food with business:

  • Take cues from your interviewer, remembering that you are the guest. Do not sit down until your host does. Order something slightly less extravagant than your interviewer. If he or she badly wants you to try a particular dish, oblige. If he or she recommends an appetizer to you, he or she likely intends to order one. Do not begin eating until your host does. If he or she orders coffee and dessert, do not let him or her eat alone.
  • If your interviewer wants to talk business, do so. If your host and the other guests discuss their upcoming travel plans or their families, do not launch into business.
  • Try to set aside dietary restrictions and preferences. Remember, the interviewer is your host. It is rude to be finicky unless you absolutely must. If you must, be as tactful as you can. Avoid phrases like: "I do not eat mammals," or "Shrimp makes my eyes swell and water."
  • Choose manageable food items, if possible. Avoid barbeque ribs and spaghetti.
  • Find a discrete way to check your teeth after eating. Excuse yourself from the table for a moment.
  • Practice eating and discussing something important simultaneously.
  • Thank your interviewer for the meal.


Situational Interview

Situational interviews are similar to behavioral interviews, except that situational interviews focus on a hypothetical situation. For example, in a behavioral interview, the interviewer might start a question with, "Tell me about a time you had to deal with..." In a situational interview, the interviewer asks, "How would you handle..." The key to preparation and success in situational interviews is simply to review your past work experiences and review the steps you took to resolve problems and make corrections. You should also have short stories of some of these past experiences so you can incorporate them into your answers to show that you have experience handling similar situations.

Stress Job Interviews

The stress interviewing technique is typically used only for positions in which the job seeker will be facing stress on the job, and the interviewer wants to see how well candidates can handle the pressure. The key to surviving stress interviews is to remain calm, keep a sense of humor and avoid getting angry or defensive.

The interviewer may try to stress you in one of several ways, such as asking four or five questions in a row, acting rude or sarcastic, disagreeing with you, or simply keeping you waiting for a long period. Don't take any of these actions personally. Simply stick to your agenda and showcase your skills and accomplishments calmly. Better, try taking back control of the interview by ignoring the stress. Some experts suggest even getting up and walking around the room so that you take control by being the only person standing. If there is a board or flip chart in the room, another option is to get up and draw or diagram parts of your answers.

Most job-seekers will not encounter such interviews, but it is important to know they exist, and know how to handle yourself if you are faced with such an interview style.