I’ve never really cared much for interviewing. I mean, who enjoys profusely sweating, racing heartbeats, having clammy hands, and nausea? As I reflected on all the interviews I have endured over the last two decades, I was amazed at the final tally – over thirty job interviews! What is more amazing is that I think I have suffered through almost every type of job interview there is.
Now that I am older and have been involved in the career development field for the last several years, I no longer dread going to interviews. I have learned that the trick to overcoming your nervousness is being prepared. Preparing for an interview involves many things and one of them is knowing what type of interview you are heading into. Be sure to ask when the interview is set up what type of interview it is. Here is my top ten list from my favourite interview type to my least favourite.
10. The Informational Interview After years of dragging myself through interviews where I felt strangers were sizing me up, I found the best interview type! The informational interview is by far my favourite. When searching for my current job, I turned the interview process on its head. Instead of waiting for companies to call me, I got on the phone and called companies. I was in control of the interview! I had a basic list of questions that I asked if the manager had time. If the conversation went well and they met the must haves I was looking for in a job, I would ask them if they would have time for an in-person informational interview. I went on over ten informational interviews until I found the company I wanted to work at, and then I waited for a job opening that was suitable. I now have my favourite job ever and work for the best supervisor and have amazing co-workers. I feel I chose the best job for me.
9. The Traditional Interview I have had countless traditional interviews. They are usually one-on-one where the interviewer asks you a predetermined set of questions that they will ask all applicants. Besides practicing common interview questions, the trick to this interview type is being sure that at the end, you add any information about yourself that you think they need to know, but that didn’t come up during the interview. Traditional interviews are by far one of the easiest interview types.
8. The Lunch Interview Any kind of interview that involves food can be potentially disastrous. My first interview ever took place at a McDonald’s. It felt like a first date, “what should I order, should I offer to pay?” If an interview is going to take place at any kind of food establishment you must ask if this is going to follow traditional interview questions or if it will be a get-to-know-you session. Follow the interviewer’s lead and order something comparable but less expensive. Don’t order anything that is messy or requires you to eat with your hands (like Surf ‘n’ Turf). Follow your mother’s table manners – take small bites and don’t talk with your mouth full! If you are offered alcohol it may be best to decline politely. If the interviewer suggested having the interview over a meal, they will most likely pay for it.
7. The Phone Interview I have applied for out-of-province jobs on several occasions. The process always started with a telephone interview. I found these tricky, especially when there were multiple interviewers on the line. The questions asked were many common interview questions; the downfall was that I had to make quite an impression in my answers because I could not make eye contact, judge their non-verbal responses to my answers, and so forth. Find a nice quiet place to take the call (away from crying babies and televisions) and have pen and paper handy to keep you focused. Also, if you have written out your answers to common questions you can refer to your notes. Some companies may use the phone to screen applicants by asking you a couple of questions on the spot without scheduling a formal interview. Always be prepared to handle yourself professionally on the phone when you are searching for a job. Although I found these to be the least stressful, I never received job offers after a phone interview – I think this means that I need to brush up on my phone skills and push to meet them in person!
6. Behavioural Interviews Behavioural interviews are becoming increasingly common because they assume that past behaviour predicts future behaviour. Answering behavioural interview questions requires more brain power. They target specific desired qualities. For example, the question, “tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you handled it?” will reveal your teamwork skills. Practice your answers to these questions and use the STAR method to organize your thoughts.
5. The Exit Interview The exit interview is just plain uncomfortable. The exit interview takes place when you are leaving a job. Not all companies do them. I have only had to do a couple and they were usually with someone from Human Resources and not the supervisors that I had built a rapport with. At that point I really wanted to maintain a good reference and did not want to divulge why I was leaving them for a better opportunity.
4. The Group Interview Have you ever shown up to an interview to see ten other people there vying for the same job? Now that really gets the competitive juices flowing. Group interviews are an effective way to see who stands out in the crowd. Interviewers can easily judge leadership skills, social skills, and teamwork. An interviewer may ask a question or start a discussion and see how individuals in the group respond. Speak up, don’t get lost in the crowd, be respectful and don’t interrupt while others are speaking. Group interviews work well for jobs where you would be working with the public.
3. The Panel Interview The panel or committee interview can be intimidating. It feels like facing your parents when you have broken curfew! You are outnumbered and they will often sit on one side of the table, making you feel like it is you vs. them. Remain calm and confident – it’s not war, it is a job, and you need to present how you are the right fit for the company. Having the position’s supervisor, co-worker and others in the interview can speed up the interview process, eliminating the need for subsequent interviews.
2. The Audition One of my least favourite interview types is the audition. This is where during the interview they expect you to demonstrate your skills. You may be saying, ‘I would never have to do that because I am not a singer, dancer or actor; but think again. Once I was applying for a retail job, and they asked me to do an “on-the-floor interview.” I literally had to go on the selling floor for ten minutes and greet customers, tell them about sales, and answer their questions. Talk about nervous!! On another one of these so called “auditions,” the person who set up the interview (for a marketing position) told me that the interview would take all day and that we “may” go outside. When I showed up in my heels and dress coat I had no idea that the interview would include two hours of driving, eight hours outside in the middle of a snowy cold Ontario winter day, and walking door-to-door selling coupon books for a pizza place! Needless to say I never took that job. Auditions could also include putting together a quick PowerPoint slide and presenting it to them during the interview, or sharing your portfolio. Make sure to ask questions when you are setting up an interview so you know what you are getting into.
1. The Stress Interview My worst interview experience to date resulted in me leaving the interview room shaking and leaving building crying. The stress interview is comparable to being a live target at a shooting range! It may start with the interviewer being extremely late. Interviewers may shoot questions at you really fast without giving you time to think, and may interrupt you while you are talking. Or they may just sit silently and stare at you! They may ask you very absurd questions while being mean and rude. I was only 22 when I applied for a middle management position at a mostly male dominated auto manufacturing plant. I felt like I was going to throw-up during the interview. At one point they asked me what I would do if a man said “what the #@! are you doing you $#@!! “ I was completely caught of guard! They finished the interview by telling me how grossly unqualified I was and how a man was way better suited for the job, but upper management required them to interview women (or something to that effect, my head was spinning out of control by then!) The key to surviving the stress interview is to recognize that it is a stress interview. Then it becomes a kind of game. Can you make it through the first round in the ring? Remain calm, remember it’s not personal it’s deliberate. They want to see how you will handle yourself and others in a stressful situation. Maintain eye contact and keep your answers brief, sticking to your main points. Keep smiling and be polite. If at any time you have had enough, thank them for the interview and show yourself to the door. If you do get offered the position, you will need to decide if you really want to work there! So there you have it, my top ten worst interviews. Remember the key to turning any interview experience into a positive one is to be prepared; and practice, practice, practice. Good luck! Works Cited:
The following articles were reference while writing this article:
- English, Patty. The Top 10 Types of Job Interviews. Retrieved from http://hubpages.com/hub/The_Top_10_Types_of_Job_Interviews.
- Rosenberg McKay, Dawn. The Job Interview: Types of Job Interviews. Retrieved from http://careerplanning.about.com/od/jobinterviews/a/job_interview.htm.