3 kinds of job interviews to be prepared for

At a job fair, interviewing with a screener is a first step. Photos by Julie Dodd

A key part of getting a job is being successful in interviews.

Often we envision the interview as being one-on-one with the person making the hiring decision. And that is how some interviews work.

However, you need to be prepared for several other kinds of interview.

1. Being interviewed by a screener

This kind of interview is very typical of job fairs. When a company is going to interview at a job fair, several people may be on site to do initial five- to ten-minute interviews with prospective employees.

The interviews are screening a large number of candidates to identify a much smaller group of candidates who will be contacted for a call-back interview. That second interview could happen the next day or at a later date.

The screeners may be with the company’s human resources department or with the division of the company that is seeking employees, such as the IT department or marketing. The screeners may not be employees of the company but are from a company that does job screening interviews.

Your goal in a screening interview is to be one of the candidates selected for that next-round interview. When I talked with interviewers at the University of Florida’s Career Showcase, they said that a candidate has about 30 seconds to make an impression.

This was part of the interviewing team from Pepsico at the UF Career Showcase. They stressed how important it is to know something about the company you are interviewing with.

Have energy. Have a good handshake. Make eye contact. Have a resume that is easy to scan. Know something about the company.

2. Being interviewed by several people at the same time

When you become a serious candidate for a position, you may be interviewed by several people at the same time. If you were being considered for a position in a particular department, you’d be interviewed by the supervisor and several of the members of that department.

If you are interviewing at this level, that means you have fulfilled the basic requirements for the job. What you are trying to do in this group interview is convey that you can become a good member of the team.

Be ready to talk about how you work in a group, what your work style is, what you can bring to a group. You must be able to go beyond generalizations. Be ready to share specific situations to illustrate your abilities. You also need to have a story to share – if asked – about how you dealt with a job disappointment or failure.

3. Being interviewed by a rotation of different people

Teach for America interviewers included a student intern as well as a Teach for America recruitment manager.

If you are a finalist for a position, you may be running the gauntlet in terms of going through a series of interviews – talking with someone in human resources, being interviewed by the company’s career coach, being interviewed by a potential supervisor, and being interviewed by a work team.

The company’s goal is to have people with a number of perspectives have the opportunity to talk with you and evaluate you from their different perspectives.

Don’t dismiss anyone you talk with as not important to the job process – even the receptionist or the intern who may be taking you from one meeting to another.

Be prepared to be going full speed throughout the process. Wear an outfit and shoes that will be comfortable and stay professional looking. You may want to have a water bottle and energy bar in your briefcase or purse.  Avoid getting distracted by checking your phone or laptop between interviews, unless you have a clear work-related issue or personal necessity to deal with.

With each different interview setting, determine what information to share. You may be telling several aspects about yourself in every meeting. But every interview should have distinctive differences.

5 comments

  1. I never thought about this distinction before. This is very helpful! Sometimes, I do lack off a little when I may be speaking with an intern or receptionist, but I agree that I should take them just as seriously.

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    1. Hope all’s going well with your own job hunting. Do you have any tips for job interviewing?

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      1. I haven’t really been looking for career jobs yet. It’s about that time though because I have one more year of undergrad left! I have, however, interviewed for internships, which I believe are just about the same, and I’d say the most important thing for interviewing is simply being ourselves and being honest. Sometimes, we can get tempted to sugarcoat things, but that’s only going to make things harder in the long run. We should make sure we can back up every single thing on our resume. Don’t want to mislead or leave any room for misunderstandings.

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  2. I agree that there is so much involved just to get an opportunity of employment.

    Having a job now, I have to cope with the hierarchical power struggles. I need MUCH assistance there as “bullying” is occuring!

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    1. Thanks for your feedback. Hierarchical power struggles seem to be part of so many businesses. What kind of bullying are you experiencing and what strategies have you tried?

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