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Interview formats are different in every organization but with some preparation and research you won’t be caught off-guard at any interview. Be aware that some interviewers are experienced, others are not. Regardless, every interview and interviewer is different, each having their own style. 

  • Phone interviewing

  • Virtual interviewing

  • One on one interviewing

  • Panel interview

  • Group interview

  • Case interview

  • Dining interview

Phone interviewing

Phone interviews are becoming more popular as a first step in the interview process to screen candidates before a face-to-face interview. It is critical to remember that the phone interview is just as important as a face to face interview.

  • The employer will contact you to set up a mutually agreeable time. Before the interview find a quiet location and give the interviewer your phone number. If possible use a landline during the call, it has better sound quality and there is a lower risk of poor reception.

  • Prepare just as you would for an in person interview. Keep your resume and cover letter nearby to reference as well as any research and questions you may have for your interviewer. It’s never a bad idea to have comfort items, a bottle of water, or tissues, just in case.

  • The way you sound on the phone will affect the interviewer’s perception of you. Be aware of your tone, and posture. Sitting up and smiling while talking will make you sound more confident, alert and upbeat.

  • If more than one interviewer is involved they may put you on speaker phone. Try to establish how many people are in the group, and don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the questions.

  • Be careful not to interrupt the interviewer, and let them end the interview. Thank them for their time, reiterate your interest in the position, and try to establish the next step in the recruiting process.

  • Follow up with a thank you note as with any other interview

How to Ace a Phone Interview

Virtual interviewing

These interviews are used for long distance communication interviews, and are generally the easiest method when applying for a job across the country. Skype and video interviews are similar to phone interviews, accept that your face and background will be visible.

Tips:

  • If you’re unfamiliar with Skype and video chat, test it out beforehand and get acquainted with the features and debug any tech issues.

  • Choose an area with good lighting, and a plain background that isn’t distracting.

  • Practice! Record yourself speaking to see how you look and sound on camera.

  • Make eye contact

  • Dress appropriately for the interview

Virtual Interviewing: 101

One on one interviewing

One on one is the most common interview method, especially among smaller organizations. Your interviewer will most likely be a hiring manager or a department supervisor. Most interviews last between 30 minutes and an hour.If you have a successful interview the conductor may ask you to come back for a second round to speak with other people in the company at a later date, or even that day.

Panel interview

Panel interviews typically involve a group of two or more people asking questions at the same time, the number of people will vary depending on the organization and position. The interview usually happens around a conference table, over a meal or even the phone.

  • As you’re introduced to each person shake their hand and make eye contact. Try to remember each of their names as well as their position.

  • When answering a question, address the answer to the person who asked. If the response is more than a few sentences make eye contact with the rest of the group, but return to the questioner before finishing.

  • At the end of the interview thank each person and shake their hand again before exiting.

  • As with other interviews send a thank you note. You may address a note to your primary contact, but remember to mention the other panel members. If you send a thank you note to each individual, personalize each note by including their name and a specific point relating to them during the interview.

Group interview

The purpose of group interviews is to see how you interact with others, demonstrate your skills and solve problems on the spot. You’ll want to stand out in a good way in order to secure a solo interview.

  • Be courteous to other candidates in a group interview, greet them, shake hands and introduce yourself. When interviewers enter the room they will take note of the room’s atmosphere and who is facilitating conversation.

  • Group interviews can include both multiple interviewers and multiple candidates. As a group, you may be asked to answer typical interview questions, but you may also be put to the test. Expect to find a problem solving or work-simulation exercise, along with discussion around the problem solving process. Your goal in this setting is to stand out (in a good way), so that you can move past this first round and secure a solo interview

Case interview

Case interviews are a way for potential employers to evaluate your problem solving skills and analyze the way you think. These occur when the job is task based. They will give you situational problem and expect you to solve it. Try to think out loud as much as possible, they’ll want to hear your reasoning.

Dining interview

Employers take candidates out to lunch or dinner is to evaluate their social skills and how they handle themselves under pressure, particularly if the job you’re applying for requires you to interact with clients and superiors. Good manners may give you the edge over other candidates, take some time to brush up on etiquette skills and review these tips.


Before:

  • Check out the restaurant ahead of time. That way you'll know exactly what's on the menu, and what you might want to order.

  • Eat a small snack before you arrive so you can focus on the conversation rather than your growling stomach.

During:

  • As soon as you are seated, place the napkin in your lap. If you have to leave the table place it on the seat or arm of your chair.

  • Stay sharp during your interview and avoid alcohol. Your interviewer may be testing your judgement skills by offering, it’s best to stick with iced tea, and water.

  • Order an average priced entree, and avoid ordering messy foods like pasta, ribs, and messy sandwiches. Foods that are easy to cut into bite size pieces will allow you to speak easier if unexpectedly asked a question.

  • Begin eating when the interviewer does, feel free to sip water at any time.

  • Is the table full of utensils? Start at the outside and work your way in. Your salad fork will be on the far left, your entree fork will be next to it. Your dessert spoon and fork will be above your plate. Your water glass will be to your right, while your salad plate is to the left.

  • Pace yourself during the meal, follow your interviewer so you don’t finish ahead or hold up the interview.

  • Stay conversational, keep the conversation focused on business-related or casual topics, don’t talk about personal relationships, recent parties, politics, or religion.

  • Always be polite to your server

After:

  • Place your utensils at the four o’clock position on your plate, and put your napkin on the table next to your plate to indicate that you have finished.

  • Let your interviewer pick up the tab, they invited you and will expect to pay both the bill and the tip.

  • Remember to thank them and follow up with a thank you note (click to how to write a thank you handout)

Note: If you have food allergies and are familiar with the restaurant’s menu, let your host know ahead of time you cannot eat certain foods. Be pleasant about your request, and apologize for any inconvenience. If food you cannot eat is served to you at a meal, push it to the side of your plate and leave it. In a restaurant where you are ordering from the menu, you can explain any allergies discreetly to your server, try not to call attention to the situation or make it a topic of conversation.