Interviews can take a variety of formats. Familiarize yourself with all of them so that you can develop realistic expectations concerning your role and responsibilities during the interview.

Screening Interview

Employers sometimes use a human resource specialist to interview and screen out applicants who do not meet the basic position requirements. These are usually short interviews that screen for specific experience, skills and/or education. Job offers do not come as a result of this interaction, however, it is still important to treat them just as seriously as any other interview.

Telephone Interview

After reviewing your resume and cover letter, hiring authorities may conduct phone interviews as a second screen before inviting you to a panel interview. Phone interviews may also be done if you are applying for positions outside of your current location or if the human resources department or company headquarters is located far away. Don’t underestimate the importance of making a positive impression during the telephone interview. This type of interview can happen unexpectedly or be planned. No matter how it occurs, you must answer the questions effectively in order to move to the next stage of the process, which is the in-person interview. To put your best foot forward in a phone interview follow these tips:

  • One advantage of a phone interview is that you can have your resume, the job description, and notes to remind you of key points you want to make right in front of you during the call. However, do not simply read your responses, as it will be obvious to the interviewer that you are reading a script.
  • Take the call in a quiet place with no distractions.
  • If you are using a cell phone make sure the connection is clear and that the interviewer can hear you.
  • Do not use a speakerphone unless you know it is of high quality and will not pick up background noise.
  • Some find that dressing for the interview even though no one can see you helps them feel more professional and confident.
  • Similarly, taking the call in front of a mirror helps you feel like you are making eye contact with someone, encouraging you to smile, which will come across in your voice.
  • Because there won’t be any visual communication cues, bring a little extra enthusiasm to the interview so that your interest comes through.
  • Be patient with silence as interviewers may be writing notes or determining what to ask next.
  • Speak clearly and with professionalism.

Video Interviews

Increasingly common, video interviews are often done via Zoom, WebEx, or some other video conferencing platform even if you live in the same community as the interviewer. Most of the tips for a successful phone interview also apply to video interviews but there are also some specific recommendations for video interviews:

  • In advance of the interview, register for whatever platform the interview will be conducted on (use an appropriately professional user name) and be familiar with how it works.
  • Be aware of what will be in view for the interviewers. Have a clean, simple backdrop for your interview.
  • Check the lighting to be sure you are easily visible and that there aren’t any shadows covering your face.
  • Adjust the height of your webcam and/or chair so that you are looking directly into the camera and that your head and shoulders are visible. Consider doing a practice run with a friend.
  • Look into the camera not at the screen in order to make proper eye contact.
  • Close all other programs so you don’t have alerts popping up during your interview and so that you are making the most of your computer’s capabilities to run the interview program.
  • Get completely dressed; tempting as it might be to only dress professionally on the visible top half, if for any reason you have to stand up you’ll be embarrassed!
  • Keep pets far away and have a babysitter for any children. Both have a tendency to show up at the most unexpected and inopportune times!
  • While it is fine to have a glass of water near by should you need it, do not eat or drink anything else during the interview.
  • Have a pad of paper and pen handy should you need to take any notes.
  • Be prepared to handle brief delays in transmission and if your screen does freeze up, call right back.

One-on-One Interviews

You and one interviewer. You may have individual interviews with several members of an organization.

Sequential Interviews

You may be passed from one department or manager to another, with a one-on-one interview at each step. Ask the scheduler to explain whom you will be meeting with for each interview. Prepare questions that would be appropriate for each person. Your questions should stem from your in-depth research about the organization’s goals, operations, culture and employees.

Panel Interview

This type of interview involves meeting with a committee, often consisting of a chairperson and two to six members from several different departments who have varying levels of responsibility. Typically, the panel has a list of prepared questions and each panel member takes turns asking questions. Expect the panel members to introduce themselves prior to asking the first scripted question. It is important to make eye contact with each panel member and shake each member’s hand at the beginning and end of the interview. Panel interviews typically last between 45 minutes to an hour.

Group Interview

In a group interview, you and other interviewees are interviewed simultaneously. The interviewer asks each person questions while the other group members observe. It gives the interviewer the opportunity to screen many applicants at one time and also provides an opportunity to observe group interactions. Show your listening skills by paying attention to what others say during the interview and try not to repeat their responses.