As remote work continues to increase, and global teams are managed from a single headquarters, the way companies interact is evolving. With software that removes barriers to communication, the way that interviews are conducted is changing as well.
There are many different types of interviewing formats that might be used to conduct your interview. Whether on the telephone, face to face, with a panel of interviewers, via video/skype or over a meal; understanding the differences between each interview format and how to adequately prepare for those differences will set you apart from the other candidates.
We have some useful tips for each common interview format that will help you prepare and make a positive impact.
Live, face to face interviews are the most common interview interaction. Ensure your nonverbal and verbal communication is focused, positive, and results-oriented. The more you practice, troubleshoot, and improve, the more you will succeed.
- Plan to arrive onsite at least 30 minutes ahead of schedule. This is imperative! You will be early enough to absorb any unforeseen delays and prevent unnecessary stress.
- Do not go into the lobby 30 minutes early. It’s frustrating to know someone is waiting for you. Walk-in no more than 15 minutes ahead of your initial appointment. This should allow you to get signed in and taken care of by the receptionist or by security.
- Your interview begins the second you walk in the door. Treat everyone with respect. Be courteous. Be amiable. Enjoy yourself.
- Look people in the eye, give a firm handshake, and smile!
Preparing for a phone interview is just as important, if not more so than face to face interviews. Many companies choose to conduct initial interviews via the phone, so preparation and practice are key to succeeding in this style of interview.
- Set up the phone interview at a time that works for you. i.e. Don’t sneak out on your lunch break and rush through the discussion because you’re afraid you’ll get caught. Rushing will make the interviewer feel as if it isn’t important to you.
- Make sure you are in a quiet place and will not be interrupted. No dogs barking, no colleagues popping into your office. However, if something does happen, make light of it and keep it humorous. Personality goes a long way.
- Dress up even though you don’t have to:
- You will feel more professional.
- You will take the interview more seriously.
- Have a glass of water handy.
- Have your important documents and whatever else you might need in front of you because the interviewer can hear you gather things during the interview.
- Ideally, it’s great to be in front of your computer. This will allow quick access, should the need arise.
- If the call quality is not good, let the interviewer know right away. Not hearing the questions or the critical insight that is being said can lead to a bad impression.
- Try to be hands-free if possible. Use a headset or Bluetooth if you have one. If you are using a Bluetooth device, make sure it is charged.
- Be ready about 15 minutes ahead of time. Some managers like to catch people by being a few minutes early.
- Don’t be too concerned if the call is five minutes late. People are busy and can get delayed, especially if they have back to back meetings. If the call is over ten minutes late, don’t hesitate to reach out to the person leading the interview or the company directly.
- Smile when you would normally smile in a live interview. Interviewers can hear a smile and it enhances the interview experience.
- Use inflection in your voice. A monotone speaker makes for a dull interview.
If you are interviewing with two or more interviewers at the same time, you can employ a few additional strategies:
- Focus on the person asking the question to ensure you fully understand what they’re asking. When you answer, however, look at all interviewers in the room (even if they are not speaking). Use the lighthouse approach: just as a lighthouse’s light scans from side to side, do the same with your eye contact and connect with everyone in the room.
- Conduct as many mock interviews as possible because your skills will improve with each attempt. Practice and helpful critiques for improvement cannot be emphasized enough. Practice also will help you strengthen your performance significantly, thus helping you succeed in either gaining a second-round interview or getting an offer.
Videoconference or Skype Interview
Video or Skype interviews have begun to replace or supplement in-person interviews. The following are some tips and strategies to help both the interviewer and the candidate make the best first impression:
- Be familiar with the technology being used for the interview. Make sure to download the program ahead of time and complete a test run with a friend, it’s better to work on the technical kinks on the front end before starting the interview.
- When answering questions, look into the camera instead of looking at the person on the screen. If you look at the camera, your eyes will meet the eyes of the person on the other end of the computer, making for a better connection.
- Be mindful of your background and lighting. Make sure to put yourself in an area with little to no background noise and be mindful of potential interruptions. Don’t position yourself in front of a window, often that will make you appear as a dark shadow. Remember, it’s a video and not a phone interview because they want to see your face.
- Adjust the camera ahead of time. You want the camera to show your head, shoulders, and hands. Posture is very important, as it is with all interviews, but especially in a videoconference because the interviewer will see you from the shoulders up.
- Dress for Success – Dress for a video interview the same way you would if you were meeting the person in the office.
No matter where an interview takes place, it is still an interview. If a potential employer decides to interview you over a meal at a restaurant, your table manners must be up to par. The following etiquette guidelines will help get you through your next meal interview.
- Before you enter the restaurant, make sure you turn off your cellphone.
- Be sure to actively listen to the interview and look for and seize opportunities to sell yourself.
- Browse the menu for harmless foods. It’s wise to stay away from messy marinara sauces and long strings of pasta because they can easily stain your clothing.
- Strike a healthy balance of not being ravenous, but not leaving your plate untouched either.
- When ordering, be courteous to the wait staff and throughout the meal. Be sure to say please and thank you. Your polite attitude will foster an overall positive impression.
- You were invited to the meal, so you are not obligated to pay the bill.
- Be sure to thank the interviewers and obtain their business cards.
No matter what the format, if you have gotten to the interview, you know you are qualified, and they have an interest in your skillset. It is now about how you articulate your successes and convey your interest in the role and company that will make you shine above the other candidates.
For our extremely helpful interview guide checklist, which offers unique insight and detailed action items to help you prepare for an interview, visit our Talent Resource Library.