How to Prepare & Practice for Different Types of Job Interviews

by Deb Dupree

A successful job search means not only enduring several interviews, but several types as well. Today’s companies use screening interviews, panel interviews and even behavioral interviews to assess job candidates. Having a fruitful interview, regardless of the type, depends on your ability to link your knowledge and skills to job requirements. The key is upfront preparation. This means researching the company, understanding each type of interview structure, preparing for common interview questions and practicing your responses.

First Pass

Screening interviews are usually the first type job seekers encounter. These interviews are usually conducted over the phone as a cost effective way to do an initial screening. Prepare by making sure you have your resume, notes and research information with you before the call. Know the date and time of the interview and keep your line clear to take the call. Take the call in a quiet place without background noise.

Face Time

Serious candidates are invited to a face-to-face interview with company personnel. These interviews usually occur on the company premise and include a site tour and introduction to key employees. Site visits provide both parties the opportunity to assess whether the job and work environment are a good fit. Arrive on time and in professional dress. Have copies of resumes and cover letters available, plus a list of questions you want to ask at the appropriate time.

Join the Crowd

Many companies set up panels or committees to interview the final cut of candidates. These groups are comprised of the people you will interact with if hired, including peers and managers. When answering a question from a panel member, direct your answer to the person who asked the question, while making brief eye contact with others on the panel. Members of the panel may take notes while you are talking. Don’t let this rattle you.

Past Performance

Many companies use behavioral type interviews. The belief is that answering questions reflecting on your past job performance will be a strong indicator of your future job performance. For example, you may be asked to explain how you handled a difficult task. Be prepared to provide specific examples of your actions and the outcomes.

Do Your Homework

Without a doubt, you must research the companies you interview with. Your goal is to understand company history, structure, products and services, and how the position you want fits with your goals. Doing this will add depth to your interview discussions and help you present a strong case advocating your qualifications.

Anticipate the Commons

While you can’t know the exact questions you will face during an interview, there are common questions you can expect and prepare for regardless of interview type. Likely questions concern your strengths and weaknesses, why you would be a fit for the job and why you left your last job. Anticipate common questions and craft your answers ahead of time. Your answers should be natural and a true reflection of you, not over-rehearsed.

About the Author

Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.

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