|  September 7, 2012

Common types of interviews: pros, cons, & tips

While in your job search process, no two interviews will be exactly the same. There are a few different types of interviews that you can expect these days. We’ll take a look at each and share some pros, cons, and tips.

The phone interview: The phone interview will be very common if you are applying to roles in locations where you don’t currently live.  It is also a very common type to use for an “initial screen”.  Basically it gives someone a low-maintenance way of doing an initial “fit check” – basically determining if your experience fits the requirements of the job and that you are a solid communicator.

  • the good
    • it’s a low pressure situation and you can take the call in a place where you are the most settled and comfortable
    • you don’t necessarily need to deal with the anxieties of what to wear, when to arrive, and all the other things that may come with a face-to-face interview
    • you can easily keep notes in front of you and use them without the interviewer noticing
  • the bad
    • it’s tougher to “connect” in a meaningful way with the person on the other line
    • it’s also more difficult to see how the interviewer is responding to your answers (where as in person you could read facial or body language cues)
  • tips
    • keep your answers to-the-point and succinct
    • leave enough pauses so that your interviewer can ask probing questions or give you a sign on whether to keep on going or if they’d like to get a word in
    • keep your energy level high and make sure your voice and tone is coming across as enthusiastic

The video interview: This type of interview is also very common if you are applying to roles that are further away (or are still in school). With Skype and Facetime so easily accessible, the video interview is becoming more mainstream and more recruiters are embracing it as an option vs. flying candidates into the office.  Take a look at our tips on preparing for your first video interview.

  • the good
    • you do get to read those facial and body language cues
    • you get to make a visual impression in terms on your overall posture and poise
    • this does more closely resemble an in-person meeting and gives you a great chance to make an impact without needing to spend big bucks on travelling
  • the bad
    • because of imperfect technology (and wireless connections) there is sometimes background noise or delays making it tough to communicate seamlessly (and it can be a bit distracting)
    • some people still feel awkward and “aren’t themselves” on video chats – again, I think as this becomes more common, that won’t be the case
    • there is some up-front setup time on both ends that needs to take place that wouldn’t happen for a phone interview
  • tips
    • test your technology in advance
    • find a good background that is professional and not distracting
    • practice chatting over video with a friend and rehearse some of the common questions (& get feedback)

The in-person interview: Definitely the most common type of interview.  Even if initial conversations happen by phone or video, eventually most companies will want to meet you in person before making an offer.  While it is the best way to make an all-around great impression, it also comes with the most pressure and variables.  The more you prepare and research, the better off you will be! There are tons of materials on our site to help you get ready.

  • the good
    • as with all relationships, there is no substitute for connecting with someone face to face
    • you’ll get to see the office environment and get a sense of the culture of the company
    • there is the option of having others “pop in” last minute if all goes well – always a great sign!
  • the bad
    • you’ll have to find the time in your day to show up – this is the biggest challenge for those who are employed during their search
    • you’ll have to pay more attention to your dress and overall presentation (see our article here about dressing for interviews)
    • logistics can be challenging depending on your schedule, office location, and other factors
  • tips
    • get an understanding of the dress code and overall culture from any connections you have within the company
    • prepare for all of the common interview questions so you are not caught off-guard and can avoid looking “frazzled”
    • show up early, but not too early (15 minutes prior is the best rule of thumb)

The group interview: This is the least common of the four types of interviews mentioned in this post.  Generally companies use this type of interview if they are dealing with a large volume of candidates and have limited time to see everyone.  This will be one of the first rounds in the process and is generally followed by a one-on-one if you “pass” this stage.

  • the good
    • generally more low-pressure since you are going through the process with a group
    • gives you a chance to shine compared to some of the weaker candidates
    •  questions are generally not as intense or hard since they need to be more “general” and are not specific to your background (mostly “softballs”)
  • the bad
    • if you are more reserved, you may get overshadowed by the more vocal candidates in the group
    • let’s be honest, it is sort of awkward
    • you won’t get as much time to speak and showcase your experience
  • tips
    • be prepared to come out of your shell, speak up!
    • make sure your answers are thoughtful and memorable
    • be diplomatic – if you don’t agree with something someone else in the group said, there is no need to point it out. Rather you can chime in and say “in my opinion…”
No matter which type of interview you are walking into, it’s so important to prepare (equally) because any of these can knock you out of the running for a job.  Just because you are chatting with someone by phone or in group setting, don’t take it lightly.  Your first interview is just as big of a deal as your final round… so get ready to knock it out of the park.


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