Tips for Job Interview: How to Ace Any Type of Interview

You’ve heard it before: you need to be prepared when entering into an interview.  This is the perfect opportunity to show your personal brand. As you know, there are many items you should watch out for before going into an interview (see our post a few weeks ago, 43 Tips Before, During and After the Interview), but here are some specific tips for the different interview types and settings that you might have the pleasure of partaking in:

  • Telephone Interviews
    • Many employers do telephone interviews because they are convenient and allow them to pre-screen candidates before bringing them in for an in-person interview. It is important to realize that just because you are being interviewed over the phone doesn’t mean that it is more casual or laid back. The employer is still trying to get the same information from you as they would in a face-to-face interview.
    • This interviewing type can be aced with practice. Some people are surprised to hear what they sound like on the phone. You should first start off interviewing with a friend or a family member, preferably someone who has interviewed in the past. Have them ask you some difficult questions so you can get used to being put on the spot in that sort of a situation. Have them give you feedback and don’t be afraid to try it a few times. Record the conversation and play it back to hear how you sound to other people. Then make any necessary changes.
    • It is important to be prepared. The nice thing about this type of interview is that you have a variety of resources in front of you. Many things still hold true, don’t chew gum, don’t be watching a YouTube video in the background, and stay focused.
    • Make sure you are going to be available for the call when the time comes. Do not take another call or give the phone interviewer any inclination that anything beyond that interview is going on in your life.
  • In-Person Interviews
    • The fact that people get extremely nervous when they are being interviewed, when you think about it, is silly. Look at it this way: almost every question you will be asked is about you. And who’s the leading world expert on you? You! An interview is an opportunity to talk about yourself, which you (hopefully) enjoy. Keep that in mind when if you start sweating and hyperventilating 5 minutes beforehand. You’re the most qualified person to answer their questions, so knock ’em dead.
    • Make sure you have had a goodnight sleep before the interview. You don’t want to be tired, hungover, or upset when the interview rolls around.
    • For all the times you’ve looked at your resume and thought, “I am so much more than this piece of paper,” this is your time to show it.
  • Group or Panel Interviews
    • This is an interviewing situation where it is easy to get intimidated. Perhaps it is the top management of the company who will be asking you questions. Whatever the case, do your homework and be prepared. Before you enter, research whom you are being interviewed by. Know their names and what interests them. Use this information to your advantage.
    • If you know John Doe is in the room and he is the head of finance for the company, you can expect a more analytical approach, and you may even be asked what you think about something going on in the financial world. Prepare yourself to field such questions.
  • Video conferencing (new)
    • Location is key for this one. While it may be easy to do this in your room with your old Led Zeppelin posters in the background, where you stumble home drunk is probably not the best location to be interviewed. Go somewhere free from distractions. This also helps  your interviewer – you want them to focus on listening to your answers, not looking around your new apartment.
    • Dress smartly. Avoid stripes and clothing that will wash you out on camera. Just because the camera may not be able to see your pants, it is still a good idea to wear them.

Interview types:

  • Generic
    • This is the most common type of interview. An interviewer may ask questions about what you would do in a hypothetical situation or about your qualifications. Usually these questions are the same for every candidate.
    • With a few minutes worth of research on the web you should be able to find what past employees have said about the interviewing process at the firm you are looking to join. It pays off to look.
  • Behavioral
    • The interviewer wants to know how you have handled yourself in the past so that they can make a prediction about how you will work in the future. Keep this in mind. Spend the week before going through what you have done at your past places of employment, and consider how you can tell stories that exemplify your strengths.
    • An interviewer will generally seek to know how you react in the following situations: stressful, short deadlines, teams, leadership, being led with/without supervision, and dealing with individuals who don’t cooperate well. If you can answer questions related to those topics you will sleep better and do much better in the interview. These questions are generally open ended.
    • Don’t think that because you were just asked a question that you have to answer immediately. Take a second to organize yourself. This will show you are more thorough and that you don’t open your mouth without thinking first. Your answer will also be much better. Employers respect people who think before they act.
  • Experiential
    • This type of interview is similar to behavioral but has to do with your past experiences more than how you handled yourself. The interviewer wants to know what you have done in the past, and are looking to see if that is going to help you in this new position. Prepare some notes and if you have some deliverables (results of projects) that you can bring, definitely take them in. They will help focus the conversation on results you have achieved.
  • Case
    • These can be stressful if you focus on the wrong stuff. You are given a page or two that describes a scenario, and you have to quickly analyze it and come up with a solution. Too many people get caught up on the solution and miss out on what the interviewer is actually looking for:  your problem-solving skills. They want to see how you go about solving the problem; whether or not you come up with a correct solution is less important than if you were thorough and logical in getting to your answer.
    • Don’t be afraid to take some notes as you go. If you have questions that might help you solve the problem, ask them. This shows not only that you are thinking about the problem and attacking it, but that you aren’t afraid to ask for help when you need it.
    • Remember: don’t get worried if you can’t find the answer. It’s the path you take, not the destination you arrive at.
  • Stress
    • This is not a common type of interviewing, but it is still used to fill some positions. Practice answering many questions in a short period of time that you may not know the answer to. Just breathe and remember, every other candidate is just as pressured as you.

The bottom line really is that to do well in an interview you cannot expect to just walk in and wow them with your resume. You need to be prepared. A couple hours worth of work before the interview is well worth it and puts you in a position of power over your competition.