When an employer calls and asks you to come in for a job interview it's a very big deal. It means he or she looked at your resume and, based on it, thinks you meet most of the qualifications for the job. So why bother with the interview? The employer needs to know more about you than whether you meet all the job requirements, although questions about that will certainly be part of it. He or she wants to know what kind of employee you will be. Will you fit in with the rest of the staff? Are you likable? Are you enthusiastic? Will the employer-employee relationship be successful? Not to mention the fact that you likely have some competition out there. You will have to prove yourself to be the best person for the job.
The interview is obviously very important and because of that, it might make you a little bit—or maybe very—anxious. Sometimes that anxiety is fear of the unknown. Perhaps knowing what to expect will alleviate some of it. Let's start by going over the different types of interviews you might face. An employer will likely utilize a combination of them.
Types of Job Interviews
The Screening Interview
Your first interview with a particular company or organization will often be the screening interview. Typically you will speak with someone from the human resources (HR) department in person, on the telephone or even via video chat. His or her goal is to make sure your resume is accurate. With a copy of it in hand, the HR representative will verify all the pertinent information. If you pass, you will move on to the next step.
The Selection Interview
The selection interview tends to make candidates nervous. The hiring manager typically conducts it, sometimes with members of his or her staff, in order to determine if you will be a good fit for the job. The employer knows you have the basic qualifications. Now he or she needs to know if you will be a good fit based on your personality. Someone who can't interact well with management and co-workers may disrupt the functioning of an entire department. This ultimately can affect the company's bottom line. Many experts feel that this can be determined within the first several minutes of the interview. However, more than one person being interviewed for a single opening may appear to fit in. Often, job candidates are invited back for several interviews with different people before a final decision is made.
The Group Interview
In the group interview, several job candidates are questioned at once. Since any group naturally stratifies into leaders and followers, the interviewer can easily find out into which category each candidate falls. In addition to determining whether you are a leader or a follower, the interviewer can also learn whether you are a "team player." You should do nothing other than act naturally. Acting like a leader if you are not one may get you a job that is inappropriate for you.
The Panel Interview
In a panel interview, the candidate is interviewed by several people at once. Although it can be quite intimidating, you should remain calm. Try to establish rapport with all members of the panel. Make eye contact with each one as you answer his or her questions.
The Stress Interview
The stress interview is not a very nice way to be introduced to the company that may end up being your future employer. It is, however, a technique employers sometimes use to weed out candidates who cannot handle adversity. The interviewer may try to artificially introduce stress into the interview by asking questions so quickly that the candidate doesn't have time to answer each one. Another interviewer trying to introduce stress may respond to a candidate's answers with silence. The interviewer may also ask weird questions, not to determine what the job candidate answers, but how he or she answers.
According to Interviewing by The National Business Employment Weekly (John Wiley and Sons, 1994), the job candidate should first "recognize that you're in the situation. Once you realize what's happening, it's much easier to stay calm because you can mentally re-frame the situation. Then you have two choices: Play along or refuse to be treated so poorly." If you do play along, the book recommends later finding out if the reason for conducting a stress interview is legitimate. That will determine if this is a company for which you want to work.