An interview is a conversation between two or more people (the interviewer and the interviewee) where questions are asked by the interviewer to obtain information from the interviewee. Interviews can be divided into two rough types, interviews of assessment and interviews for information.
Types of Interviews
After reading this segment, you will be able to:
• Identify the predominant types of interviews used by employers
Since the interview is the last phase in the selection process, employers use interviewing styles that assist in revealing those attributes of the candidate that are most essential for the job and most beneficial to the organization. Interviews can be conducted one on one, in a panel, or as a group. Interviews can be informal or formal, relaxed or stressful, directed or undirected.
The key to preparing for an interview is to find out before the interview how the interview will be conducted. You can do this by asking the following questions when the interview is being scheduled:
• How many people will be interviewing me?
• Will I be the only person interviewed at one time?
• What kind of questions will be asked?
• How can I best prepare for this interview?
Becoming familiar with different types of interviews will give you a chance to be better prepared.
Here are descriptions of the most common types of interviews:
The Exploratory or Information Interview
The exploratory or information interview is used as a screening and fact-finding tool for you, the candidate. This interview is used to
• find out about a company as a potential place to work, including its corporate culture, organizational structure, and future growth,
• learn about an occupation, including the educational requirements, experience needed, and responsibilities involved in doing a job, and
• Find out about the hiring trends, positions available, and application procedures.
Carefully select the questions you will ask so that you can obtain practical information. Be prepared to leave your résumé for future reference. As for any interview, be sure to follow up with a thank you letter.
To find out how to conduct an information interview, read Information Interviews on this Website.
The Directed Interview
The directed or directive interview involves the interviewer using an outline and asking specific questions within a certain time frame. The interviewer works from a checklist and takes notes. This type of interview is impersonal and seeks to reveal facts.
The Undirected Interview
The undirected or non-directive interview is unstructured and allows candidates to discuss their qualifications openly. This interview gives candidates a measure of control over the interview, providing for an opportunity to concentrate on strengths and to show leadership and organizational abilities.
The Panel Interview
A panel involves a number of interviewers. The composition of this panel could include:
• The supervisor
• The manager
• A union representative
• A human resources officer
• An employment equity officer
• Employees from the department that is hiring
Typically, members of the panel will ask one question that represents their area of concern. To succeed at this type of interview, it is best to anticipate and prepare for questions on a variety of issues related to the organization and to the occupation. Thorough company and occupational research will help you to prepare for such interviews. For more information on doing employment-related research, visit Researching Employment on this site.
The Group Interview
The group interview is used by some large companies or organizations for graduate intakes when several graduates are interviewed at one time. This interview can last from two hours to a day or longer and usually includes a group problem-solving exercise.
The interviewers may ask questions in an unstructured manner; therefore, the questions and comments may be unrelated to one another. This type of interview is used to:
• Observe how candidates react under pressure
• Evaluate how individuals interact with people with different personalities
• Test for communication skills
• Assess the "fit" with the group
It is wise to seek the advice of someone who has experienced this type of interview before engaging in this process.
The Sequential Interview
Some interviews are sequenced over a longer period, such as a half or full day. These interviews are used as an assessment tool. The first stage may begin with a panel interview, followed by a tour around the company (during which the assessment continues). The interview sequence may then conclude with another interview when you may be asked questions that test your creativity or you’re "fit" within the organization.
Further, you may be invited to more than one interview; for instance, the first may be an overall screening, followed by some form of assessment, then a post-assessment follow-up.
The Stress Interview
The stress interview intentionally creates and promotes discomfort. The interviewer may have an abrupt or brash attitude. Alternately, the interviewer may stare, be silent, and spend time taking notes. The purpose of this type of interview is to test the candidate's ability to be assertive and handle difficult situations.
The Behavioral Interview
In behavioral interviews, candidates are asked to respond to questions that require examples of previous activities undertaken and behaviors performed. To succeed at this type of interview, be prepared to give accounts of how you have dealt with difficulties on the job. The purpose of this type of interview is to predict future performance based on past experiences.
Become familiar with various types of interviews, as you may encounter interviewers who blend styles to suit the interview objectives and to test for employment readiness.
How to Take Interview
1. Treat interviewees with respect. Make sure you arrive on time. Don’t rush straight into the interview unless the interviewee pushes to do so. Accept a cup of tea, if offered, and make polite conversation to help put both of you at ease.
2. Think about your appearance and the expectations of the person you’re about to interview. If the interviewee is a smartly turned out business person who expects to be interviewed by a professional looking researcher, make sure you try to fulfill those expectations with your appearance and behavior.
3. Think about body language. Try not to come across as nervous or shy. Maintain appropriate eye-contact and smile in a natural, unforced manner. Remember that the eyes and smile account for more than 50% of the total communication in a greeting situation. If you establish rapid and clear eye-contact, you’ll be more easily trusted.
4. During the interview, firm eye contact with little movement indicates that you’re interested in what is being said. Also, it indicates honesty and high self-esteem. On the other hand, if your eyes wander all over the place and only briefly make contact with the eyes of the interviewee, low self-esteem, deceit or boredom can be indicated. Don’t rub your eyes as this could indicate you’re tired or bored. Conversely, watch the eyes of your interviewees which will tell you a lot about how the interview is progressing.
5. Don’t invade their space. Try not to sit directly opposite them – at an angle is better, but not by their side as you will have to keep turning your heads which will be uncomfortable in a long interview.
By watching the eye movements and body language of the interviewees, and by listening to what they’re saying, you’ll soon know when you’ve established rapport. This is when you can move on to more personal or sensitive issues. If, however, you notice the interviewees becoming uncomfortable in any way, respect their feelings and move on to a more general topic. Sometimes you might need to offer to turn off the recorder or stop taking notes if you touch upon a particularly sensitive issue.
Negotiate a length of time for the interviews and stick to it, unless the interviewees are happy to continue. Make sure you thank them for their help and leave a contact number in case they wish to speak to you at a later date. You might find it useful to send a transcript to the interviewees – it is good for them to have a record of what has been said and they might wish to add further information. Do not disclose information to third parties unless you have received permission to do so
As the interview progresses, ask questions, listen carefully
6. Probe for more detail to responses and probe for more information
• That’s interesting; can you explain that in more detail?
• I’m not quite sure I understand. You were saying?
• Can you elaborate a little more?
• Could you clarify that?
• Could you expand upon that a little?
• When you say ‘. . . . . . ’, what do you mean?