The Job Interview: Getting Down to Basics
A job interview is your chance to show an employer what
he or she will get if you’re hired. That is why it is essential to be
well prepared for the job interview. Preparing means knowing about the
industry, the employer, and yourself. It means paying attention to
details like personal appearance, punctuality, and demeanor.
I always feel that knowledge is your best weapon. That
starts with the very basic bit of knowledge regarding job interviews.
Before you research the industry and the company and even before you
practice answering the questions you might be asked, you should have
some general information about job interviews. Let’s start by going over
the different types of interviews you might face.
Types of Interviews
The Screening Interview
Your first interview with a particular employer will
often be the screening interview. This is usually an interview with
someone in human resources. It may take place in person or on the
telephone. He or she will have a copy of your resume in hand and will
try to verify the information on it. The human resources representative
will want to find out if you meet the minimum qualifications for the job
and, if you do, you will be passed on to the next step.
The Selection Interview
The selection interview is the step in the process
which makes people the most anxious. The employer knows you are
qualified to do the job. While you may have the skills to perform the
tasks that are required by the job in question, the employer needs to
know if you have the personality necessary to “fit in.” Someone who
can’t interact well with management and co-workers may disrupt the
functioning of an entire department. This ultimately can effect 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
interviewed at once. The interviewer or interviewers are trying to
separate the leaders from the followers. In any group there is a natural
process that takes place where the group stratifies into leaders and
followers. The interviewer may also be trying to find out if you are a
“team player.” The type of personality the employer is looking for
determines the outcome of this interview. There is nothing more to do
than act naturally. Acting like a leader if you are not one may put you
into a job for which you are not appropriate.
The Panel Interview
In a panel interview, the candidate is interviewed by
several people at once. It can be quite intimidating as questions are
fired at you. You should try to remain calm and establish rapport with
each member of the panel. Make eye contact with each member of the panel
as you answer his or her question.
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 sometimes used to weed out those that 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 candidates 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 reframe 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.