by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Job interviews are all about making the best matches. Both the employer and the job-seeker want to determine whether they fit well together.
Job-seekers going on job interviews can usually expect one of two styles of interviewing. While the styles differ, there are some basic activities job-seekers need to do both before and after the interview to succeed.
This article is organized in the following manner: First, the common aspects of interviewing are discussed. Second, the two types of interviews are discussed briefly.
Common Aspects of Job Interviewing:
- Preparing and Researching: Job-seekers must spend time before the interview conducting research on the type of job, company, and industry they are interviewing. Your knowledge of these factors is critical to your success. You can find some great sources of information by visiting our Guide to Researching Companies.
- Anticipating Questions (and Preparing Answers): While the types of questions differ depending on the interviewing style, job-seekers must plan and be prepared for the typical types of questions. You should not memorize answers, but script specific responses so that you will be able to remember more details when asked the question in the interview. You should also have several questions ready to ask the interviewer. See our Traditional Interview Questions; the first 59 questions of our 150 Typical Job Interview Questions also are of a traditional nature. Our Guide to Interviewing Resources provides links to other sites that list common interview questions and other preparation suggestions.
- Follow-Up: It is amazing how many job-seekers skip this crucial step. You must immediately write a thank-you note to each person who interviewed you. Not only is this letter part of professional etiquette, but it is often time to reinforce a concept or skill and that the employer desires in the prospective employee. See an example of a good thank you letter.
Types of Job Interviewing:
The two styles of interviewing used by companies today are the traditional job interview and the behavioral interview.
- The traditional job interview uses broad-based questions such as, “why do you want to work for this company,” and “tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.” Interviewing success or failure are more often based on the ability of the job-seeker to communicate than on the truthfulness or content of his or her answers. Employers are looking for the answer to three questions: does the job-seeker have the skills and abilities to perform the job; does the job-seeker possess the enthusiasm and work ethic that the employer expects; and will the job-seeker be a team player and fit into the organization. You can find 50 Traditional Employment Interview Questions here.
- The behavioral job interview is based on the theory that past performance is the best indicator of future behavior and uses questions that probe specific past behaviors, such as: “tell me about a time where you confronted an unexpected problem,” “tell me about an experience when you failed to achieve a goal,” and “give me a specific example of a time when you managed several projects at once.” Job-seekers need to prepare for these interviews by recalling scenarios that fit the various types of behavioral-interviewing questions. Expect interviewers to ask several follow-up questions and probe for details that explore all aspects of a given situation or experience. Recent college grads with little work experience should focus on class projects and group situations that might lend themselves to these types of questions. Hobbies and volunteer work also might provide examples you could use.
Job-seekers should frame their answers based on a four-part outline: (1) describe the situation, (2) discuss the actions you took, (3) relate the outcomes, and (4) specify what you learned from it. Read more in these related sections:
Of course, besides these two common types of interviews, you may encounter other types of job interviews. For example, read about:
- Mastering the Case Interview
- Phone Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts
- Situational Interviews and Stress Interviews
Final Thoughts on Job Interviewing
Don’t forget to check out our Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts — or for even more tips and suggestions about interviewing, go to our Job Interviewing Tutorial.
Finally, test your knowledge by taking our Job Interviewing Quiz.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
Have you taken advantage of all of our job interviewing resources? Find articles, tutorials, and more — all written to help job-seekers learn how to succeed in all types of job interviews.