Interview Types

During the interview you will be asked some difficult questions. These questions are designed to see how you will react under pressure and unfamiliar territory. However, by being familiar with the types of questions you may be asked and identifying examples of situations from your experiences where you have demonstrated behaviors or skills, and practicing responses to questions, you will give yourself the opportunity to answer these questions comfortably and confidently. While we describe these interviews separately, your interview may be a combination of these interview types.

Traditional Interview

Although behavioral interviewing (see section below) is being used more frequently, a traditional interview is still very common. The length is usually from a half hour to one and a half hours. You are usually asked many of the questions from the Common Interview Questions section and possibly a few behavioral questions related to the job. After this interview, if you are being considered, you would be invited back for 1-2 more interviews.
Panel Interview

In a panel interview, you will be in the room with several people, usually three to five, but it could be as many as ten. Sometimes each person will ask you a series of questions, and other times a few people will ask questions while the rest listen. The purpose of having many people sit in on the interview is sometimes so several staff members can meet the candidates and also to keep the number of interviews a candidate has limited to one or two. The questions could be traditional, behavioral or a combination.

Serial Interview

This type of interview consists of a series of interviews on the same day. For example, if you are scheduled for an interview from 1-3:30, you may have 5 half-hour interviews with individual people. Each interviewer will most likely ask you different questions. Question types may vary. If your interview is during a mealtime, like 10-2, most likely, someone will take you to lunch. Do not let down your guard; this is still part of the interview. A “lunch interview” (see section below) is more common for upper-level positions or positions in which you would have frequent “lunch meetings” with clients/colleagues.

Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviews are designed to provide the interviewer with information about how you think and behave in situations. Hiring managers are interested in your method of thinking and going about doing a task as well as how you respond in difficult situations. An effective way to answer behavioral questions is the to provide the interviewer with four pieces of information known as the STAR Method: Situation, Task, Action, Results.
Case Interview

This is really a type of question. Your whole interview could be made up of case interview questions, or you could be asked 1-2 case questions. You will be given a problem or scenario related to the industry and asked to solve it or describe the process in detail. The interviewer is not necessarily looking for the “right” answer, but wants to evaluate your problem solving skills. If you do not have adequate information to determine a solution, you may need to ask the interviewers questions. Case interviews are more commonly used by investment banks, consulting firms, technical positions, and for upper-level management positions. You may be asked to provide a detailed financial analysis, to plan an event or to develop a marketing campaign.

Examples of Case Interview Questions:

  • A chain of grocery stores currently receives its stock on a decentralized basis. Each store deals independently with its suppliers. The president of the chain is wondering whether the company can benefit from a centralized warehouse. What are the key considerations in making this decision?
  • A magazine publisher is trying to decide how many magazines she should deliver to each individual distribution outlet in order to maximize profits. She h as extensive historical sales volume data for each of the outlets. How should she determine delivery quantities?
  • A personal finance and loan company that currently targets low-middle class people is expanding to the Philadelphia market. They need to know how many financial centers the area can support and where they should be located. What kind of information would you need in order to determine the number of centers?

Phone/Skype Interview

To save the company time and money, many interviewers will schedule phone interviews as an initial screening of potential candidates. This may be an interview with a human resources representative or a hiring manager. Since this is typically your first interaction with the company, it is also their first impression or you.

  • Set up a specific time for the call so you will be fully prepared.
  • Treat the phone interview just as you would a face-to-face interview. Just because it is over the phone does not mean that you should take it less seriously!
  • Have your resume, company research, notes, and questions to ask spread out for the interview. Make sure your information is well-organized and legible. You certainly don’t want to noisily go rummaging through papers on the desk while you say, ‘ummmmm’ because you are trying to find your list of questions.
  • Make sure the phone/computer you are using works well and avoid cell and portable phones if possible.
  • If you have call-waiting, turn it off if possible. At least, DO NOT answer it during an interview.
  • If you have a bad connection or have difficulty hearing the interviewer, offer to call them back.
  • Turn off radio and television to limit distractions. Plan to sit in a quiet room where you won’t get interrupted.
  • Put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door.
  • Get yourself water beforehand.
  • Stand up during the interview (for phone interview). You will sound more expressive and alert.
  • Smile. Your enthusiasm and happiness will show through in your voice.
  • Establishing rapport is an important aspect of interviewing. On the phone, one way to establish rapport is to “match” the interviewer’s tone of voice and rate of speech. This will make you seem “like” him or her.
  • Before you get off the phone, ask about a time to meet face-to-face. Do not be afraid to ask! The worst thing that can happen is they tell you ‘no’ or say they will get back to you. Have your calendar ready so you can schedule and interview easily.
  • Employers will be calling you to set up interviews. If you have an answering machine or voice mail on your home and cell phone, make sure it is professional.

Lunch Interview

Job interviewers take candidates to lunch to evaluate your business etiquette, communication and interpersonal skills, social skills and table manners. DO NOT let your guard down. This is no time to act like you would with your college buddies. This is still a part of your interview. Following are tips to help you while dining.

  • If you are a picky eater, check out the restaurant ahead of time. That way you’ll know exactly what’s on the menu, what you might want to order and where the rest rooms are located.
  • Make sure your cell phone is turned off
  • Don’t order messy food (pasta with lots of sauce, chicken with bones, ribs, big sandwiches, and lobster).
  • Don’t order the most expensive entree on the menu. Opt for moderate priced items like chicken or fish.
  • Avoid foods that have a strong or unpleasant order (garlic and onions).
  • Consider staying away from things that are crunchy. If may affect how well you hear someone.
  • Do order food that is easy to cut into bite-size pieces.
  • If you can, avoid soup. It is harder to eat than you think.
  • Eat your entire meal if possible. It may seem disrespectful if you leave a large amount of food behind.
  • Consider water. Most other beverages stain if spilled.
  • Interviewing is hard enough without adding alcohol to the mix.
  • Be polite. Remember to say “please” and “thank you” to your server as well as to your host.
  • During conversation, remember to listen and participate.
  • Stay away from sensitive subjects like religion and politics.
  • Do not talk with your mouth full.
  • Do not complain about the food.
  • Keep your elbows off the table, sit up straight and don’t talk with your mouth full.
  • You are not expected to pay for your meal or tip when invited to lunch. It would be inappropriate to offer.NEVER ask for a doggy bag.
  • Remember to say thank you and tell the interviewer you enjoyed the meal.