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From Behavioral to The Telephone: Interviews Can Be Done in a Surprising Variety of Ways

Ryan Rianova -- Would you recognize a behavioral interview question? How do you handle a group interview? How much should you prepare for an internal interview? Interview formats can be diverse. Here's what you need to know for a successful job search.

Perhaps you thought that interviews were always conducted in offices with only one interviewer meeting with you face-to-face. While that may be how a majority of interviews are performed, there are several other ways you can be interviewed for a job position. Keep in mind that interviews can be conducted in various formats and combinations.

Types of interview formats

1. One-on-one interview

The one-on-one interview is the old standby of employment interviewing. Basically, it's you and the employer representative given the task of interviewing prospective employees. It could be a Human Relations (HR) rep,a department manager, or small business owner doing the interviewing.

The interview begins the moment you step into the room, so be aware of your body language while you're still doing the pre-interviewing warm up chit chatting. The interviewer will be sizing you up so make sure you are well-groomed, have a good, firm handshake, and keep a pleasant smile on your face. To break the ice, look for interesting things around the room that you can comment on.

2. Behavioral interview

Perhaps you've heard of behavioral interviewing. What is it exactly? The premise behind the behavioral interview is that the employer is looking for specific examples of how you handled situations and/or problems in the past.

Employers figure if you did something well in your recent past, then there's a strong chance you'll have the same type of performance with them. This is a case where you are definitely going to need to prepare some story examples ahead of time.

How do you know when you're being asked a behavioral interview question? When you hear interviewers ask questions like: "What would you do if you had... " or "Tell me about a time when... " or "Give me an example of... " These are all good examples of behavioral interview questions.

For maximum impact, make sure your behavioral stories have these three major components: Situation, Action, and Results.

Situation -- "I had a client who was very angry about an overcharge on her account. She was ready to cancel with us."

Action -- "I calmly listened to her describe the problem and then restated the problem back to her to make sure she knew I'd heard her. Once I realized we'd made an error on her bill, I apologized and told her we'd correct her account immediately. Not only did I credit her account, but I sent her a company pen set along with an apology letter.

Results -- The customer was very happy that someone had listened to her and was willing to help so quickly. She was thrilled with getting a gift and said she couldn't wait to order again!

3. Panel or group interview

The group interview may involve you alone interviewing with two or more representatives of the company. Or, it may involve you and several other candidates interviewing together as a group.

While facing several people asking you questions may seem a little intimidating, if you do a good job of using the interview tips found on this site, you will keep your cool and have a successful interview and be in a great position to get the job.

Here's some important tips on how to successfully get through a group job interview:

-- Treat all interviewers equally. Sometimes in a group interview situation one person will play "good cop" and the other "bad cop". The "good cop" will ask you pleasant questions, while the "bad cop" will throw out the tough interview questions. Don't favor one over the other.

-- Keep good eye contact with the person asking you the question. When you give your answer, however, make sure you look at each interviewer.

-- Try to get each person's business card before the interview so you can address them by name. Also useful for sending out thank you letters.

4. Telephone interview

Phone interviewing is used by employers to pre-screen job applicants before granting a face-to-face interview. You could receive a phone call from a prospective employer at any time of day. Many employers like to call in the evening when it's easier to catch people at home. A phone interview may last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.

Hopefully, when you do get the call, you are prepared and are not on a cheap cell phone that cuts in and out - this will leave a bad impression! Spending extra for a quality phone can make all the difference in this situation. As with other types of interviewing techniques, it's best to pre-prepare for the phone interview.

You'll want to create a folder specifically for phone interviewing and keep it handy where you can grab it quickly. Inside the folder include your resume and cover letter, job descriptions of each employer you've applied with, a cheat sheet listing your achievements and qualifications that match up with each job description, and information about each employer.

You may also wish to keep handy examples of your previous work for reference. This is the critical information you'll need to refer to when you're on the phone with the interviewer.

Another important phone interview tip is to stand up while you're speaking to the interviewer. It's a proven fact that a person's mood and voice will sound more energized and confident when they stand while talking on the phone. If possible, go to a quiet room where you can talk without interruptions.

One more thing, if you're caught off guard by an employer on the phone wanting to interview you, by all means, ask if you can have a few moments to get yourself together. Either put them on hold or ask if they can call back in five minutes. Don't try to wing it if you've just woken up or just gotten out of the shower, etc.

5. Internal interview

Sometimes a job will open up in your existing company which you're interested in and you decide to apply for it. Even if your company has a history of promoting from within, don't assume you're a shoe-in for the position just because you've worked there for years. Most likely, your employer will consider you as just another applicant for the position and you'll be measured against other well-qualified internal and external candidates.

Your best bet for getting that job promotion is to prepare for the interview as if you were an external candidate who's never worked there before. Start from square one and do some research on the inner workings of the department, i.e., people, projects, morale, codes of conduct, style, dress, etc. Seek out co-workers who are familiar with the department and get insider information.

Go to the company web site and find information about the department. Look for goals, mission statements, budgetary information, current news, etc. Use this information to develop a thorough knowledge of the position, department, and its people. Find co-workers who are willing to put in a good word for you.

Prepare your achievement list and think about how you match well with the prospective job description. Do a mock interview. On the big day of the interview, make sure you dress professionally, even if your work environment is casual dress. Don't forget the proper interview follow up letter, which re-states reasons why you think you're right for the position. This kind of preparation and professionalism will make you a much stronger candidate for your desired job.

6. Observation interview

The observational interview is a format where you are evaluated while making a presentation or performing a group-based task. Used mostly in research and academic settings, you'll be observed for how well you can relate to a group of people in an action-oriented setting.

7. Video interview

Because we live in the video age, you may one day find yourself interviewing with video conferencing equipment. An employer may wish to do a video interview to save money and time, or because of geographical barriers.

There are certain rules which will make your video interview experience go smoother. Wear dark clothing, avoid quick movements, look directly at the interviewer's image, and speak clearly, but don't talk for long periods of time. You may keep a copy of your resume in front of you for reference.

8. Email interview

The popularity of email has created another way for employers to make contact with prospects in a quick and easy way. Email interviews are used to pre-screen potential interviewees so be aware that you must stay professional and prepared even in this format.

Work on building a relationship with the interviewer by using their name and information you've learned about the company. Remember that you're communicating with a prospective employer and not a friend, so don't get too chatty. If it goes well, you may be invited to come to a face-to-face interview or receive a phone interview.


© 2014 Ryan Rianova

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal, financial, or medical professional.