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Acing Your Interview
Illustration by Neil Webb

Understanding interview formats


From:

Acing Your Interview

with Valerie Sutton

Video: Understanding interview formats

The first place to start in preparing for inteviews is to understand the potential formats that employers will use to determine your fit within the organization. There are four common interview formats, and it often depends on the industry and function for which you are applying. The first format is the phone interview. This allows the employer to screen the candidate at a low cost and time effective manner. These interviews are generally around 30 minutes in length and often performed by a human resource manager.

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Acing Your Interview
38m 51s Appropriate for all Sep 20, 2012 Updated Jun 05, 2013

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Ace your interview and land the job you want. Join author Valerie Sutton as she explores the different types of interview questions and styles you might expect, and how to prepare for them by researching the company and practicing your answers. Uncover the best ways to create a good first impression and navigate the interview, as well as handle the tricky questions and identify the unlawful ones. Plus, learn how to assess your own performance, thank the company for their time, and follow up on a decision.

Topics include:
  • Understanding interview formats
  • Anticipating questions and preparing answers
  • Researching potential employers
  • Establishing good body language in the interview
  • Reviewing your performance
  • Answering questions using the Situation-Action-Result method
Subjects:
Business Business Skills Career Development
Author:
Valerie Sutton

Understanding interview formats

The first place to start in preparing for inteviews is to understand the potential formats that employers will use to determine your fit within the organization. There are four common interview formats, and it often depends on the industry and function for which you are applying. The first format is the phone interview. This allows the employer to screen the candidate at a low cost and time effective manner. These interviews are generally around 30 minutes in length and often performed by a human resource manager.

This technique is often used to narrow the pool of candidates for in-person interviews. In this interview, they will confirm your qualifications to the position and often check your expected salary to see if you are in their budget range. The phone interview is also one of the more challenging formats because you can't see reactions to your answers, and you can be easily distracted. To be most successful in the phone interview, you should be sure to follow these five steps. Use a landline, as they are less likely to be dropped. Turn off call-waiting as a call coming in may distract you in the middle of an answer.

Interview in a quiet space with limited distractions. Without visual clues, you will have to be careful to focus on the questions they are asking you. Enunciate and speak clearly. You may want to try smiling as you answer questions. Your answers will come across more positively. Clarify any questions that you are unsure of the meaning. You don't have body language to tell you when you are going in the wrong direction. So be sure to ask the interviewer if you've approached the question in the way they were looking for. The second format is the traditional in person one to one interview. This allows employers to get to know you on an individual level and ask pertinent questions to their area of work.

These are most often performed by the decision maker, which is potentially your boss and coworkers. They're going to be concerned with how well you're going to fit in and you're going to support them in their jobs. To be most successful in the in-person, one to one interview, you need to focus on non-verbal behaviors, like eye contact, tone of voice, and body language. One study shows that 93% of your message is conveyed in this way and not in words.

So it is very important in the interview. Please check out the movie on body language to see effective examples. Body language will vary based on the country that you are interviewing in. For example, in some countries, eye contact is direct and others it is not. Also remember to dress the part. You want them to see you as a potential coworker. The third format is a panel or group interview. This format allows the employer to save time and also get multiple opinions...

That can lead to more valid and fair decisions about candidates. Remember that each individual on the panel will have a different perspective. Try to understand how their position relates to the one you're applying for. This will help you tailor your answers to their particular needs and concerns. To be most successful in panel interviews, body language is still important. A few points to remember include, make your introductions count, make eye contact and use their names, include quieter people in the conversation by asking their opinion. Remember, they're evaluating your interaction, so be sure to listen and engage where appropriate.

You will want to make eye contact again with everyone at some point in the conversation. Finally, ask for business cards from everyone on the panel for proper follow up. The final type of video is the online video interview. It is similar to the in person interview but it allows the employer to cut down on travel and cost. You will want to follow the same advice and in addition these three steps. Test run the equipment well before the interview. Arrive on video early so you can make any adjustments to lighting or appearance prior to the interview or coming online. Use the in picture mode so you know how you appear. Make sure your environment looks clean, professional, and there are no immediate distractions in the area.

Now that you have a good understanding of the interview formats, you should check out the next movie to gain an understanding of the question types and how to prepare for them.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Acing Your Interview.


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Q: Where can I learn more about communication skills?
A: Discover more on this topic by visiting communication skills on lynda.com.
Q: This course was updated on 6/05/2013. What changed?
A: We added new videos on handling tricky and possibly illegal interview questions, what your body language says about you, and how to answer questions with the SAR (Situation-Action-Result) method.
 
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