How to excel in every type of interview
You can find lots of information out there about the traditional one-on-one job interview, but that’s just one way employers are interviewing people these days. Sometimes they use a different type of setting – or a combination of interview tactics – during the hiring process.
Here, we’ve laid out some of the less traditional types of job interviews and how you can excel at each one.
What they are: An informational interview is an exploratory, face-to-face meeting with professionals in your industry – or in an industry you'd like to learn more about – to help you gain insight into the their career path and experiences. These meetings aren’t considered true job interviews, so don’t expect an offer at the end of it.
How to succeed: While this type of interview is less formal than the traditional job interview, you should still prepare by doing research on the person you’re meeting with, the company he or she works for, and any big news or trends influencing the industry. Expect to be the one asking the questions, so come with a list, but don’t feel like you have to stick to it if the conversation goes in a different direction. Just as with a traditional interview, send a thank you note afterwards, but unlike a typical interview, don’t ask for a job, since that wasn’t the objective of the meeting.
What they are: Phone interviews are often conducted as a first-round screening by a recruiter or as a way to connect with someone on the team who works remotely or in a different office.
How to succeed: “Phone interviews are a critical part of the screening process that can help a job seeker land a face-to-face meeting,” says Steve Saah, Global Executive Director with Robert Half Finance & Accounting. “Showcase your interpersonal skills by listening to what's being asked, pausing and then responding. What you say and how you say it can make a big difference. It may seem obvious, but make sure you've done your homework about the company itself and the person interviewing you. It’s important to be a bit more energetic than in person, as the interviewer can’t see eye contact or body language. Let them ‘see you smile’ through the phone.”
What they are: Video interviews are also becoming more common as more employees work remotely. And since most people have capabilities on their smartphones or computers to conduct video calls, they are easy to set up and execute, and still give that “in person” feeling without actually having to be in the same room.
How to succeed: “The best way I recommend to prepare for these types of video interviews is to prepare just like you are going in for an actual in person face-to-face interview,” says Robb Hecht, adjunct professor of marketing at New York City's Baruch College, who coaches marketing executives, students, small business startups and brand clients to Get Brand Productive. “Of course, a quiet room and professional appearing background are key, as well as ensuring the computer camera [is] properly positioned.”
Hecht says that with the rise of live streaming across Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, as well as Millennials' and Gen Z's agility with video, interviewing via video is making interviewing less formal and more personality driven. “Just like brands succeeding today are purpose driven, employers are looking for candidates to show how their personalities and passions can align with company purposes in their video interviews,” he says.
What they are: During a group interview, the company interviews several job seekers at the same time. It’s a way to make the hiring process more efficient, but it’s also a way to see how job seekers react in a stressful or group situation.
How to succeed: Saah says that before going into the interview, be sure to have an elevator pitch ready. “How you introduce yourself and the impression you make will matter. At least once during the interview, try to be the first person to answer the interviewer's question. You don't want to dominate the group by answering every question first.”
What they are: Panel interviews is another type of group setting, but this time there are multiple decision makers from the company in the room. While intimidating, prepare yourself by asking who will be attending in advance; that way you can do your research and tailor your responses appropriately.
How to succeed: “For a panel interview, maintaining eye contact with each person as they speak is important,” Saah recommends. “This is typically an opportunity to meet different people at the same time, from senior executives and HR contacts to potential co-workers. Remember that it's a two-way street, so have questions in mind to ask the hiring manager or panel.”
Check out this infographic with the top 5 questions to ask in your next job interview.