Job interviews are probably not your idea of a good time. There’s all the stress of researching the organization, rehearsing your elevator spiel over and over again until you can do it in your sleep, and facing a stranger who you’re supposed to win over in 30 minutes or less. As if that wasn’t enough, interviews aren’t one size fits all.
From video interviews to group interviews to presentation interviews, that’s quite a lot to take in. Luckily for you, we have some tips for each type of interview compiled in one place. So next time you want to know how to prepare for a panel or you’re surprised by a group interview, just whip out this handy JOHNLEONARD interview guide and follow these guidelines to dazzle your interviewer!
THE PHONE INTERVIEW
The phone interview is a method that typically starts the hiring process. On the one hand, it’s convenient and cost effective for both parties. On the other hand, not meeting your interviewer face-to-face can be very impersonal and you can’t really make an authentic connection. Chances are, you’ve probably conducted your fair share of phone interviews, but a little refresher can’t hurt.
Before the call, there are a number of things you should check off your To-Do List. Considering phone interviews are so common these days, JOHNLEONARD already has several amazing blogs to guide you in the right direction. First things first, you need research the ins and outs of the organization. Make sure to check out this blog post to see exactly what you should know about your prospective employer. You should also brush up on common phone interview questions, since they tend to have similar formats. Next, compile your elevator pitch, strengths and weaknesses, key points you want to make, and questions you have for the interviewer. The great thing about phone interviews is that you can have that cheat sheet right next to you to glance at if you need a helping hand. Finally, make sure you have a quiet, comfortable place to take the call. Get rid of any distractions and alert those around you not to interrupt you during this time.
On the day of the interview, have everything you need set up and ready to go: pen and paper for taking notes, a sheet of important topics you want to discuss, and some water. Though your interviewer won’t see you, it helps to dress professionally. This will put you in the right mindset and stimulate your answers. Enunciate your words and don’t sound bored or disengaged. Stick to the three C’s when framing your thoughts: consistency, concentration, and courtesy. Lastly, smile as you speak! You can actually hear a smile in someone’s voice and this will help you sound more pleasant and enthusiastic about the opportunity.
THE VIDEO INTERVIEW
Video interviews are becoming more and more widespread. There are many qualities both you and your interviewer can take advantage of. It has all the perks of meeting someone face-to-face without having to commute to a faraway location. However, there are a number of things you need to watch out for when it comes to video interviews. Technology and connection malfunctions run rampant, so it’s important to prevent any problems before they ruin your interview.
The first step is figuring out where you want you interview to take place. Pick a well-lit area with a backdrop that is a solid, neutral color. As with the phone interview, complete the full interview prep and shut out all outside distractions and noise. Test everything: camera, sound, lighting, connection, and the platform you’ll be using for your video call (e.g. Skype, Google Hangout, etc.). Make sure you have a back-up plan in case things don’t go as planned. Be prepared to either log onto a different program or resort to a phone interview if needed.
Before your interviewer reaches out, run through all your equipment again at least one hour prior. Turn off any apps or devices that might interrupt. Dress professionally – and not just your top half! Just because you will be visible only from the waist up does not give you a free pass to lounge in sweat pants. Maintain a serious attitude and you will see that translate over to your performance. When speaking with your interviewer, maintain eye contact – try not to look at the screen, but at the camera directly. Don’t fidget, lean forward to express your engagement, and keep the hand gestures to a minimum. For a more detailed crash course on video interviewing, click here to read a previous blog post.
THE GROUP INTERVIEW
Few things are more jarring than showing up to an interview and realizing you don’t just have to impress your interviewer, but compete against other interviewees – at the same time! The group interview offers an interesting dynamic. Besides being evaluated on your experience, you are also being observed on how well you interact with others.
There main type of preparation you should do before a group interview is mental preparation. It’s true that the others will have a similar background to you, but you can’t let that phase you. Realize that you are qualified to be there and don’t judge skills you lack compared to others as shortcomings. You have something to bring to the table that is entirely unique to you. Brainstorm what makes you stand out and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to outshine the competition – that will just come naturally.
It’s important to remain confident and respectful. Yes, you need to highlight your defining qualities, but give the others a chance to speak and don’t act arrogantly. Be a good listener and make note of the others’ names and backgrounds. When possible, refer back to previous statements to reinforce your points and show you were paying attention. Demonstrate that you are a leader, collaborative, and adaptable. Finally, just be yourself!
THE PANEL INTERVIEW
The panel interview is not as scary as it seems. Think about it: instead of having to go through rounds and hours of interviews, you get it all out of the way in one go! Ok, that might be a bit too optimistic for some, but it really isn’t that much far off from a regular interview.
The most important preparation for this type of interview is finding out who will be interviewing you – or more precisely, what positions they have. This can be as simple as emailing the recruiter you set up the interview with and asking for some clarity. Be ready to frame your answers from the viewpoints of each panelist since various departments are likely to be represented. You should also have specific questions ready for each person so you don’t leave anyone out.
When the time comes to face the panel, keep your cool. Make it a point to connect and interact with each member. If someone is posing a question, maintain eye contact with that individual, and then alternate with the others as you answer. As mentioned earlier, link your points to address each of the departments and have questions prepared for everyone.
THE PRESENTATION-BASED INTERVIEW
Interviews don’t have to be just a simple recitation of your background. In fact, you might be asked to give a presentation on a topic. You won’t just be evaluated on how well you understood the facts, but how effectively and concisely you can explain it to someone else. If you want to improve your presentation skills, read this former blog post.
The most important thing about a presentation interview is grasping exactly what your interviewer expects of you. You must clarify the topic, how much time you are allotted, the technology you will have available, and who your audience will be – this is to assess their expertise level and adapt your tone and focus appropriately. Structure your presentation so that you captivate the viewers’ attention throughout. Have enticing visuals and rehearse it enough that you can deliver it seamlessly. Also make sure you have a back-up plan in case you experience any technical difficulties. One recurring issue is saving the file as a Mac document only to find out too late that the format isn’t compatible with Windows PowerPoint. To be on the safe side, email yourself the presentation, save it on a flash drive, and input it into Google Slides.
Dress professionally, engage your audience, and be on brand at all times. Speak loudly and clearly, and be mindful that you do not go over the time limit. When fitting, weave in examples of your skills and abilities, and recommendations of how you would tackle a project for the company. Differentiate yourself, stand out, and make sure you are memorable.
THE COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW
There are times in interviews when you will be asked to put your money where your mouth is. This means that you may be tested on the skills you have listed on your resume to make sure you can successfully complete your duties at this organization.
Before your competency-based interview, review the job description and requirements. Confirm you can perform them all if asked to demonstrate your abilities. Know what type of competencies you’ll be tested on, whether it’s analytical (e.g. innovation and problem solving), interpersonal (e.g. team-working and collaboration), or motivational (e.g. drive, energy, and focus).
When the time comes for you to put your skills to the test, think positively and trust in your abilities. If at any point you have no idea how to proceed, don’t try to fake it – mostly likely, the only thing you will succeed in doing is aggravating your interviewer for wasting their time. Instead, admit that you are not familiar with this particular task and express your eagerness to learn how to perform it. This will show initiative and demonstrate that you are always open to learning new skills and feedback.
THE LUNCH INTERVIEW
The final interview type is an interesting one: the lunch interview. For this event, you not only should research the company, but also the restaurant you will be eating at. Plan out the route so you get there early and can grab a table to avoid long waiting times. Read the menu online so that you know what to order beforehand and don’t waste valuable time with your interviewer. Also check out the noise level, clientele, and atmosphere to be sure you dress appropriately and confirm this is the best place to conduct an interview. Have your resume and interview research memorized – you can’t have a cheat sheet on the table!
When you and your interviewer finally sit down, be on your absolute best behavior – the interviewer will observe how you present yourself in a social setting and determine whether you are the right person to represent the organization. Wait for the interviewer to place his or her order first and to base your meal on that order. Choose at that price point or less and pick something that will be easy to eat while chatting. Most importantly, do NOT order alcohol (even if your interviewer orders it). It is extremely unprofessional to make a first impression with a glass of alcohol in your hand. Treat this interview as a conversation and try to find the right balance between formal evaluation and social event. Finally, it is customary for your interviewer to pick up the tab, so don’t insist on you paying the bill.
Much like people, interviews come in all shapes and sizes. Though it can get overwhelming that there are so many variations, they all share some key points: before an interview, you must familiarize yourself with the company you are interviewing for, brush up on your own skills and resume, and maintain a professional appearance and disposition. The rest is just semantics. Rest assured that you are ready for whatever kind of interview your interviewer springs up on you! Just remember to be yourself, stay confident, and smile, and you’ll be guaranteed to land that new job.
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