Types of interviews
During your job search, you're likely to encounter different types and styles of interviews. Read below to learn more about specific interview types and how to best prepare.
Behavioral interviewing is a widely used style of job interviewing and is used by employers to evaluate a candidate’s experiences and behaviors to determine their potential for success. Behavioral interview questions ask you to provide an example of a time you were in a particular situation or encountered a specific challenge. It's often used because it is the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. Behavioral interviewing is said to be 55% predictive of future on-the-job behavior, where traditional interviewing is only 10% predictive.
What the interview will look like
- Expect a structured interview with set questions. The interviewer will be evaluating you against a predetermined set of desired behaviors deemed necessary for success at their organization.
- Questioning may contain multiple parts and include follow-up questions for more detail.
- Be ready to relate your experiences and your transferable skills to the position and organization specifically.
- Employers will most likely take notes on your answers,
How to answer behavioral interview questions
- Tell the interviewer about a particular situation rather than providing a general response.
- Keep your answer succinct and focused while providing enough relevant detail.
- Preparation and practice are essential. Use the list of common interview questions to brainstorm examples and practice answering questions.
- Put yourself in the shoes of the employer and imagine how the ideal candidate would answer the question.
- Vary your experiences as you answer – don’t just focus on a few experiences.
- Be honest. Don’t embellish or simply say what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
Use the STAR method
The STAR method is a way to structure your response to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action and result of the experience you are describing.
- S – Describe the situation or event, not a generalized description.
- T – Describe the task presented. What are you trying to solve or work toward?
- A – Describe the action you took, not the group as a whole.
- R – Describe the result of your action. If negative, what did you learn from the experience?
Many employers will conduct phone interviews or "phone screens" before in-person interviews. If you are conducting a long-distance job search, you may also be more likely to experience phone interviews.
- Provide accurate contact information in your resume so interviewers can easily contact you.
- Create a professional voicemail message.
- Have a phone interview information sheet prepared for each position you apply for – you never know when you may be requested to do a phone interview on the spot!
Preparing for your phone interview
- Prepare for your phone interview just as you would prepare for an in-person interview. A phone interview is just as important as any other interview. This is the employer’s first impression of you.
- Sit in a chair at a desk for your phone interview. You don’t have to dress professionally, but don’t get too relaxed. Your environment and the way you dress and sit will set a professional tone for the interview.
- Have copies of all job-related paperwork: resume, application, cover letter, previous correspondence, organization literature and your list of questions to ask.
- Notify roommates of your phone interview and ask them to remain quiet during the interview.
During the interview
- Be aware that the caller can’t see you, your hand gestures or your body language. They also can’t see the notes you've prepared!
- Verbal communication and tone of voice are very important during a phone interview – ensure you can hear and are being heard clearly.
- Write down each interviewer’s name and position title as they introduce themselves.
- Listen very carefully, both speaking and listening are very important during a phone interview. Ask for clarification or for the interviewer to repeat a question, if necessary.
- Smile when appropriate – it will come through in your voice. It will also show that you are engaged in the conversation and interested in the position. Watch those nervous giggles, though. They will give an impression of immaturity and lack of self-confidence.
- Give succinct, articulate responses. Speak clearly and at an appropriate rate so that you will be understood.
- Avoid filler words like, “umm,” “like” and “you know” – they are especially noticeable over the phone.
- Don’t talk too much. It can be easy to get carried away since you don’t have the non-verbal feedback of your interviewers to let you know when it is time to wrap up.
- Don’t feel like you have to fill any silences, even if they seem exaggerated when you are on the phone. Once you complete your answer it is “on the interviewer” to ask the next question. If you do need time to think, say so – taking up to 30 seconds to answer a question is fine, just let the interviewer know.
At the conclusion
- Ask two or three questions about the position and take notes.
- Ask what the next steps will be in the interview process and when you can expect to hear back from them.
- Do not discuss compensation, salary or benefits.
After your interview
- Write down and summarize the key takeaways from the phone interview so you will be prepared for any additional interviews in the future.
- Write a thank-you email to each person or the group as a whole within 24 hours.
- Make sure to follow up with your contact if you haven’t heard back from them within the agreed-upon time frame.
Check out Big Interview ahead of your next interview. It is a web-based mock interview program that combines a curriculum of video lessons with virtual practice to help you improve your interview skills and increase the likelihood of landing a job.