Interview Formats to Prepare For
There aren’t many things that can give you sweaty palms during your job search like an interview. No other part of your journey is so public.
So close to your goal; however, you can’t give up. You have to power through, impressing the hiring officer to secure that job.
Though reaching the summit of this long journey isn’t easy, there are many things you can do to be ready. You can practice the different questions you’ll expect. You can research the company and learn about their culture. You can even create your own questions to suss out those last few pieces of the puzzle.
There is one more thing you should be prepared for that many people don’t think about. With today’s fast-paced world, many hiring officers are busy. In fact, some of them may not be in the same city as you are and the job may require relocation. Because of these factors and the advance of technology, we may not be faced with the traditional interview, that one-on-one conversation.
Here are the most common interview formats
The Face-to-Face Interview
The traditional interview with question and answer is what everyone expects when they get an invitation. The interview may additionally involve a skill-based test. The questions may range from how you would react to a situation to how you’ve reacted in the past. There are a few unique elements that you want to keep mindful of as your approach your interview.
Though the work environment may be relaxed, you want to look professional. It may not require a suit and tie, but you should be clean and tidy.
It’s a delicate balance to ensure you aren’t too late or too early. You don’t want to keep anyone waiting as they stare at the clock, nor do you want to be the person in the lobby waiting for hours as sweat pours down your forehead.
Check your foul language at the door and make sure you remember how to say please and thank you. Being professional is about showing how you will treat your fellow coworkers and any potential clients.
The great thing about a face-to-face interview is that you can see the body language of the interviewer. The same can be said about you though so be mindful about what your body is saying on your behalf.
The Panel Interview
A panel interview is often reserved for a second interview after you’ve shown at least one person that you were up to the job. The format is very similar to the traditional one-on-one conversation, but you will be presented with two or more interviewers.
It is said that two heads are better than one. When you’re speaking to more than one interviewer, you need to build rapport with both. Be mindful that they will likely have two different perspectives on the position so you need to sound well rounded and not mechanical.
Could be more intimidating
Don’t get intimidated when there is more than one person. They are still human and have the same fallacies. Slow down and take your time answering everyone’s questions thoroughly.
Who’s talking now?
You may find that one person takes the lead. Though it doesn’t necessarily imply who is the boss, it does show you who to direct your questions to. Steer clear of any internal strife if you find the interviewers are all trying to take the lead. You don’t want to get into the middle of a personal-struggle.
The Telephone Interview
Seen as less important than a traditional interview, a phone call may be used to reduce the number of candidates. As far as you are concerned; however, treat it with the same respect as any other.
When it’s time for your interview, you’ll want to find a location that has decent service. Make sure your battery is charged and the notifications are turned off so nothing interrupts you.
You will thank yourself if you can find a quiet room. Whether it’s coworkers, friends or family, you don’t need the distractions, nor do you want anyone screaming in your ear when you’re trying to answer questions.
No body language
Without someone to see, you won’t have the benefit of body language to adjust your conversations. You will need to keep focused on the interviewers tone of voice and don’t worry if the whole process feels cold.
Pro Tip: Have your resume in hand during the interview for crib notes.
Like the telephone interview, video conferencing is more of an option with the advance of technology. You have various options such as Skype, Facebook live chat, and many more. This format may be used if the job requires relocation.
It doesn’t matter that you CAN do the interview in your pj’s from the waist down. If you treat the interview as if you were face-to-face then you will give the whole process more respect. It also saves you in case you have to inadvertently stand up or if you forgot the mirror in the corner that shows everything on your backside.
Though a little muted compared to if you were face-to-face, you can still watch for body language cues. They may show more interest in certain topics that you can elaborate on.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have enough lighting so your interviewer can see you.
Like the telephone interview, make sure you don’t have any distractions. Some people may think it’s cute for your toddler to suddenly show up, but others won’t.
You May Need an Account
If you’re using a new platform that you have not used before, make sure you understand it and it will run. You don’t want to be left on a blank loading screen because your computer wasn’t updated.
If you don’t have enough bandwidth to get a clear signal then find somewhere that does.
Pro Tip: Look around the room for anything you don’t want an interviewer to see.
The Group Interview
Though not common, you may have a group interview for a company that is hiring multiple similar positions. The group format works well to show a candidate’s technical and teamwork skills
Rapport works differently
Though you will have more time to get to know people, many of them will be your competition. Be courteous and professional, but remember who is the hiring officer and who is the competition.
Competition is good for some people, while not for others. Remember that the interview is as much for you to assess them. If you aren’t comfortable with the interview format, you can question whether the work environment is going to be a good fit.
Be mindful of anyone who can be overpowering. This holds true for both interviewers and interviewees. Some people can become too aggressive.
Formal / Informal Interviews
Some hiring officers do things differently and may invite you to lunch instead of a formal interview. Remember that it’s still an interview. While some of the rules may be relaxed a little so you can build a better rapport, you don’t want to relax them too much and lose control. One of the important things to keep in mind is whether to have an alcoholic drink during the meeting. The general rule is not to, even if the interviewer is. Keep the conversation professional and don’t let the distractions of a restaurant keep you from focusing on the end goal. The interviewer may someday become your friend, but until you get hired, they are the next step in you achieving your goal.
Preparation is key
Always remember that you’re also interviewing the company. If something doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to take a job offer. This is your journey and no one will fault you for staying true to your principles and understanding that you won’t be the right fit.
On the other hand, you’ve made it this far. An interview is the last step before getting that job offer. There are some universal elements you can keep in mind during the process, but each interview style and format has its own pros and cons. As you are the job seeker, you have very little control over the format, but by controlling your actions and general decorum, you can achieve your goals.
Practice your interview questions at every opportunity and if you find out that your interview is going to be non-standard, keep these tips in mind.