How to get selected in 10 different types of job interviews
Some companies may give you a puzzle to solve. This is again a test of logical thinking, presence of mind and ability to craft an approach.
Interviews come in different flavours. You can’t pre-order your favourite type when you are shortlisted. But you can ask your recruiter what kind of selection process you can expect and prepare accordingly. Here are a few of the common interviews types to expect.
1. Traditional one-on-one
Expect at least one interview with the HR for a hygiene check and then the primary interview with the manager you will be reporting to. The interview may be structured or with closed-ended questions where you can speak to current employees/recruiter to understand the format and content. If it is unstructured or has open-ended questions, you have greater control over how you want to sell your story.
You will face a panel interview when there are multiple stakeholders in the role. Expect managers and specialists to face you with a variety of questions. While you answer, make eye contact with other members in the panel too to keep them involved. The interview may not follow a smooth flow and a question may be unrelated to the previous one as panel members pursue their line of interests. Prepare accordingly.
A telephonic interview is often an elimination round before the employer chooses to invest in a face-to-face meeting. The biggest handicap is you are unable to leverage your body language, facial expressions and physical presence to create an impact. Practice beforehand and find a quiet place away from disturbances. Wear a formal dress to create the mood and use a copy of your resume for reference. Request a question to be repeated if you were not sure, smile often to improve the tone of your voice and use a scribble pad to keep track of what was asked and the points you want to convey.
Video interviews may be live with an interviewer on the other end or recorded. If you are not used to speaking on camera, the experience can be disconcerting. Practice and record on your computer to understand how you come across in terms of visual impact, tone, body language and presence of mind. Have your recording evaluated by friends or colleagues. A video interview is formal, so dress and speak accordingly.
5. Group interview
The group interview is used at junior levels or for initial stages of mass hiring. This is again an elimination process. Your best chance lies in participating in mock group interviews with friends. Learn to seize the initiative and contribute to the group discussion even if it gets aggressive. Being polite, including others and conveying relevant points are usually enough to take you to the next round. To increase your chances, reach early and interact with others to establish comfort in the group.
6. Job fair
The job fair is another mass hiring method where you have a limited window for impressing the interviewer who is overloaded with work. Here the equivalent of an elevator pitch will see you through. Repeatedly practice your answers to a few standard questions like tell me about yourself or your academic/previous job performance, why should we hire you, what relevant skills/experience do you have and why do you want this job? For each have a 30-second and a two-minute answer ready. With satisfactory responses to standard questions, the interviewer may ask for more details.
In a competency or behavioural interview, you will be asked for an example from your past or to respond to a hypothetical situation. The interviewer will judge you on your approach to a problem, communication, interpersonal skills and success. Your interviewer may ask you for an example where you converted a difficult sale. Respond using the STAR method of story-telling which includes Situation, Task, Action and Outcome.
Expect a case interview or a task when trying out for a consultant or a specialist role. A business problem will be framed or a task given and you will be judged on how well you articulate your thinking and approach to solving it including asking questions to elicit information, laying out a structure to solve the problem and explaining the approach and logic while arriving at an answer. Use material off the Internet and willing friends to role-play through hundred of cases to master this technique. Some companies may give you a puzzle to solve. This is again a test of logical thinking, presence of mind and ability to craft an approach.
Often at the mid-senior level, the interview may be conducted over a coffee or a meal along with a few colleagues from a team. The goal is to know you better as a person and check for social adjustment within the team. Order minimal coffee and non-messy food so that it doesn’t distract you from making the best impression. Mind your table manners and don’t respond with your mouth full. Though the atmosphere is convivial, this is not the time for personal comments, familiarity or bad humour.
10. Stress interview
Such interviews are designed to put you under stress to check your response under pressure. The interviewer may adopt a confrontational tone, make personal attacks, question your judgment or simply keep up a rapid-fire rate of tough questions. To stay on top, focus on the question instead of the style. By doing so, you will be able to demonstrate calmness, logic and clear communication. A few rounds of aggressive role-plays will help you to practice smiling and to think on your feet.
YOU ARE REJECTED
The toughest rejection to comprehend is when the interviewer perceives that you lack a cultural match with the organisation. Consider yourself lucky that you probably dodged a bullet. You may be used to autonomous decision making whereas the new employer prefers joint decisions or a bureaucracy. Individual contributor vs team player, risk-taker vs riskaverse etc are various cultural mismatches that are best avoided.
2. Messed up
It’s much easier to accept a rejection when you know that you messed up the interview. Maybe you were careless and did not follow the process or instructions or questions during the assessment and selection process. Wrong answers to critical questions, low relevance of responses and a violent argument are other ways of messing up.
You were part of a checklist or due process the employer followed. The ideal candidate had already been identified and yet process demanded that at least five candidates were interviewed of which three needed to be external. This time the odds were not in your favour.
4. Negative past
While you were being interviewed or later, the employer did a quiet reference check and looked you up on the Internet. Something that the interviewer learnt from your past or on social media did not go down well with him. This kind of rejection may repeat in the future too.
5. Bad timing
Business requirements change over time. A business head changed his plan, a hiring freeze was announced, or the company changed its priorities while your selection process was on. The vacancy went on hold along with your hopes. Try elsewhere.
(The author is founder and CEO at quezx.com and headhonchos.com)