Prepare Properly For Any Kind of Job Interview
By: Mary Lorenz, CareerBuilder
Congratulations: You landed a job interview. Now you can sit back and relax until it’s time to show up, right? Not necessarily. Nailing the interview isn’t just about what you say and how you act; it’s also about what you do beforehand.
Keep in mind, however, that interviews can vary in format and style, so it’s important to prepare accordingly. Career experts share these tips for preparing for the most common types of job interviews.
One-on-one, in-person interview
In-person interviews are typically reserved for candidates who are serious contenders for the position and are used to determine if the job seeker has the right skills and experience. Typically, it is conducted by the manager with whom the job candidate will be working.
How to prepare: Research the company and the position as much as possible. “The biggest interview slip-up is not knowing about the organization,” says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, a staffing agency that specializes in digital, marketing and creative talent. “Uncovering beyond-the-basics knowledge of the job and company will help you better communicate specific ways you can be of value.” Domeyer also suggests preparing answers for common interview questions, as well as your own questions. “This reinforces your interest in the position and company while providing you with useful information that can help you determine if the job is a good fit.”
Phone interviews are often used as a screening measure before an in-person interview. “While the in-person interview may focus more in the details of the job, how you’ll fit into the company and your position, a phone interview will likely focus more on getting to know you, your skills and your background,” says Susan Joyce, a job-search expert and chief blogger for Work Coach Cafe.
How to prepare: “My best advice for a phone interview is to treat it like a face-to-face interview,” says Geoff Scott, a career adviser at Resume Companion. “Don’t do it reclining in your favorite easy chair or on your bed. Find a quiet place where you can concentrate, take notes and lay our the necessary documents.” Scott also recommends getting dressed and sitting up straight, which will “help get you in the right mindset for an interview.”
“A panel interview sounds scary and official, but you won’t be facing a Spanish Inquisition-like panel of judges,” Joyce says. A panel interview typically involves fielding questions from two or three people at once, such as your potential manager, a human resources representative and a peer.
How to prepare: Much like you would for a one-on-one interview, do your research on the company before the interview and learn what you can about each interviewer, Joyce says. Be prepared for a little chaos, too. “Think of this interview as more of a conversation between the group. The interviewers may interrupt each other, but that’s OK. You can always ask them to repeat themselves.” Joyce also recommends making eye contact with everyone in the room when you respond to questions “so you’re engaging the group, not just whoever asked the question.”
Video or Skype is often used to interview candidates for remote or freelance work or to talk to candidates in different geographic locations before inviting them to on-site interviews.
How to prepare: Conduct a test run of your equipment with a friend to make sure everything is working properly. “You’d be surprised by how often technology gets in the way during online interviews,” Scott says. During the interview, remember to look at the camera, which will give the appearance of eye contact. “If you keep looking at yourself on the monitor, it gives the interviewer a feeling that you’re distracted and not focused on the interview,” Scott says.
Mary Lorenz is a writer for the Advice & Resources section on CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job-search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.