6 Common Interview Types and How to Ace Them
You’ve cleared the first hurdle: You’ve been scheduled for an interview. Celebrate for a few minutes, then get back to work, tailoring your prep based on interview type.
The Traditional In-Person Interview
Nearly every hiring process includes a traditional one-on-one sit-down with the hiring manager. Do your homework. Before the interview, create a worksheet for yourself to answer the following questions:
- What do you know about the company? Glean any bit of information you can from the company website, press releases, recent news articles and corporate social media accounts. Get a sense of the organization’s history and its current projects.
- Who is interviewing you? Where does the hiring manager lie in the company’s structure? Look at his or her LinkedIn profile—you might find out she attended the same university, for instance, giving you a conversation starter. (Don’t be creepy; stick to LinkedIn. Referencing a recent Instagram photo would cross a line.)
- What’s your elevator pitch? In two or three sentences, how can you explain why you’re interested in the position and what skills you bring to the table?
- What questions do you have? Prepare several questions about the position, corporate culture, etc.
The Phone Interview
Remember, a phone interview is just another round of screening, but prep like you would for an in-person interview. Confirm the call details: phone number, time zone and who’s calling whom. Find a quiet location sans distraction for the call (screaming children and barking dogs are not professional).
The day of the interview, have your notes and questions in front of you, and understand who’s conducting the interview. If it’s a recruiter, remember he or she has skin in the game—the recruiter is essentially a salesperson, trying to sell someone to the hiring manager.
Be prepared to discuss salary. It might feel early, but really, it’s for the best. Whether you’re speaking to a recruiter or a hiring manager, ensuring you’re in the same ballpark prevents either party from wasting time. Better to know now if the opportunity isn’t realistic for you financially.
The Video Interview
Video interviews—the phone interview’s slightly more intimidating cousin—are increasingly common. Prep with the same care as you would for any interview, with extra attention to appearance. Find a professional setting without too much background clutter, and wear dark or neutral solids as they appear best on camera. (Ladies, avoid wearing anything low-cut—it will seem more extreme on-camera than in-person.)
Use sticky notes near your web cam to keep track of any notes or questions. That way you won’t be glancing down at a piece of paper, disrupting the conversational feel.
The Lunch Interview
Add researching the menu to your prep work. Find something to order that isn’t messy or greasy. You don’t want to drop a ketchup-drenched French fry on your interview suit.
Arrive early for lunch, and if you haven’t met your interviewer prior, try to look his or her photo up online beforehand. During the meal, follow everything your mother ever told you about manners, and no matter what the interviewer does, do not order alcohol.
Be sure to send a thank-you note, just as you would for any other interview.
The Case Interview
Candidates for consultant roles will be asked to complete a case interview to showcase their thinking skills. Don’t worry so much about arriving at the “right” answer—there probably isn’t one—as demonstrating how you arrived at your answer. Research case types (product development, growth strategies, acquisitions, etc.) ahead of time, and develop a basic structure for each type. That way you can jump right into the case and have a template in mind.
Your case might include quant problems. Once again, show your work. Even if your calculations are wrong, hiring managers might see something they like in your thinking.
The Group/Superday Interview
Particularly common in the financial sector, the group, or superday, interview is unusual in that it puts you into direct contact with your competition. Use this opportunity to shine. The employer wants to see not only how you’ll interact with your superiors but also with your peers. Be yourself, and while you want to showcase your leadership skills, don’t go overboard and be domineering.
Even if you aren’t hired, this is a unique opportunity to develop contacts in your new field. You’ll come across these folks again someday.
The hiring process is more akin to a muddy obstacle course than a sprint. Even if it takes you several attempts to cross the finish line, every interview is truly a growth opportunity and a chance to practice your skills.