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Interview Methods and Types


Interviewers choose from different styles and methods of interviewing. An interviewer wants to find out as much about a candidate as possible, including how they might react to different situations. Different styles and methods of interviewing enable an interviewer to do just that: extract from the candidate important information that could affect the outcome of the interview.

Types of Methods

Behavioral-Based Interviews
Behavioral based interviews focus on a person’s specific past performances and experiences. Questions will predominately surround past work experiences that can illustrate the candidate’s competence. For these types of interviews, the STAR system (Situation/Task, Action, and Result) may be useful for answering questions. These four titles serve as a framework for describing work experiences. When relating the facts of your experience, remember that interviewers are often looking for someone who’s optimistic, creative, a leader, and a team player. Use examples of when you have made concrete, positive contributions. This is also a time to remember your resume and refer to it as you share examples of your successful work experiences.

Case Interviews
Case questions are most commonly used in consulting interviews. In this type of interview, the candidate is given a scenario and is tasked with working through the details. These interviews highlight a candidate’s poise and analytical ability. Case questions vary: some may be asked with the purpose of determining how a candidate formulates long-term strategy, while others may be asked with the purpose of determining how well a candidate performs specific tasks, such as pricing promotions for a product. Questions may take a half hour to one hour to answer.

Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are forums by which you can discover the nature of the industry without performance pressure. This style of interview provides candidates the opportunity to compare their expectations with the position. You may have the opportunity to speak with those currently employed in the position. Take this opportunity to discover the positive, and less positive, aspects of the position. For example, if you love books and decide to pursue employment in the publishing industry, an informational interview with an honest publisher may reveal that your love for books would not outweigh your dislike of the tasks involved in publishing. It is far better for both you and the employer to discover this early in the process. Informational interviews are best kept to a half hour or less. As with any interview, prepare questions beforehand.

The previous information was found in: Leifman, Howard et. al., Vault’s Guide to Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews (New York:, 2009). Additional valuable information can be found there as well.

Types of Interviews

In-Person (Traditional)
A staple of the job application process, the traditional in-person, one-on-one interview is your opportunity to shine and to show a prospective employer why they should hire you. Though not as stressful as a group or panel interview, it is important during an in-person interview to carefully consider your answers to questions and maintain composure.

Phone Interview
Despite the fact that a phone interview is the least formal method of interviewing, phone interviews can be challenging because of a candidate's inability to sense subtle non-verbal cues, which would be otherwise obvious in an in-person setting. It is important to pay particular attention to the tone of your interviewer’s voice, and clearly express excitement or enthusiasm. Additionally, remember to have a notepad and pen handy during the course of a phone interview so you can note questions and answers, and generally track your thoughts.

Second Interview
Being asked to return for a second interview could mean a few different things. It might mean that you made an excellent impression, but the prospective employer is having difficulty deciding between a few exceptionally strong candidates. It also might mean that while you made an overall excellent impression, something you said during your interview raised additional questions for your interviewer. Regardless, a second interview constitutes a second opportunity to demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate for the job!

Group or Panel Interview
A group or panel interview may be the most challenging type of interview. This type involves being interviewed by multiple people simultaneously. During a group or panel interview, maintain eye contact with the speaker or the person whose question you are answering, think carefully about your response to each question, and, if needed, ask for time to consider a question.

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