Know your Interviewer & Interview Types

By Lt. Col. Paul Capicik (USAF, Ret.), American Sentinel University

Preparation is the key to reducing interview fear and stress. Also, knowing what the interviewer is trying to do and developing an ability to determine the direction of an interview can help you complete a successful interview. Part of that preparation includes knowing the types of interviews and interviewers you could face, and how you should maneuver your way through the experience.

Interview types

There are several different types of interviews you may encounter, depending on the company, the particular job or the interviewer. The two most common types are:

  • Traditional – based on general questions to determine:
    • Skills and abilities to perform the job
    • Work ethic and motivation
    • Will you be a team player and fit in the organization’s culture?
  • Behavioral – based on questions about your past performance:
    • Successes, weaknesses, and methods
    • May probe deeper into skills relating to the job
    • May probe into critical thinking and your decision processes
    • Do you have the desired characteristics (such as self-confidence, teamwork, professionalism, etc.)?

Other types of interviews include:

  • Directive – uses a very structured set of questions for every candidate
  • Lunch/dinner – often used when social skills need evaluation
  • Group – most often refers to a panel or tag-team of interviewers for a job that touches a range of functions or departments. Sometimes this term can refer to when several candidates are interviewed at the same time.
  • Telephone or video – often used for short-notice interviews, first-round interviews to narrow down candidates, or for out-of-town initial interviews
  • Stress – used for certain types of jobs that will entail high-stress decisions and management issues
  • Follow-up – used to make a final decision when more than one candidate has potential

Each of these kinds of interviews has a best method of approach, but all can require a lot of preparation. Finding out the type of interview you will face should be your first order of research. Don’t discount calling the HR department or a department employee to find out what method will likely be used.

Because your performance in the interview is likely to determine whether you get the job offer, don’t skimp on this preparation!

Interviewer types

In my career, I have been on both sides of the interview table. As with the interview type, try to find out who the interviewer will be and his/her interview methods. Also, if you are a military person, try to find out any military background of the interviewer. This may help in how you present certain information.

In general, I would put interviewers into three categories:

  • Knowing – the most common type, they have probably conducted many interviews and are very aware of the type of person they need. They are skilled enough to know whether what you say is correct, or they know whom to ask to confirm whether your responses are appropriate.
  • New or incompetent – interviewers who have little or no experience may have little desire to undertake this task; or he or she could be so disorganized that they will not find out what they need to know from you.
  • Skilled – an experienced interviewer takes the task seriously, understanding that good results are obtained only through hiring good people. They have researched the strategies on how to ensure the right people are hired.

As an interview progresses, being able to determine what type of interviewer you face can help you anticipate what to expect, ensure that you provide the needed information, and gauge whether you can confidently interject other applicable ideas. This knowledge also assists in establishing a rapport with the interviewer, which is extremely important.

Author Martin Yate in Knock’em Dead:2010:The Ultimate Job Search Guide says that both the skilled and the new/incompetent interviewer can spell disaster for the unprepared interviewee. ┬áThat’s because you will either answer questions in one of three ways: incorrectly, inappropriately, or you will not provide information that could show you are the right person for the job.

Now that you know the types of interviews and interviewers, you can better prepare for how to maneuver through the questions and situations posed to you. It takes time, effort, and especially persistence. But remember, an interview is a competition, and the winner gets the job.

Note: As for the links I provided, these are just samples of what is out there. There is no right answer or method, so look at many sites. The more you know and prepare, the better you will be able to effectively meet the interview challenge!

About American Sentinel University

Named a Military-Friendly School by GI Jobs and Military Advanced Education for the third year in a row, American Sentinel University offers outstanding military benefits for service members, spouses and veterans, including reduced tuition rates, an expansive transfer credit policy, no-cost books for active-duty, and personal support for the unique military lifestyle. American Sentinel provides accredited, quality Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs for high-job-growth industries, combining the flexibility of its100% online platform with dedicated personal support. Programs include IT, computer science, GIS, nursing, business intelligence, management, and IT industry certifications.

Lt. Col. Paul Capicik is a 26 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who served as a command pilot qualified in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft and held several strategic and operational plans and program positions. Following AF retirement, he spent more than 12 years with Civil Air Patrol as director of several departments and Chief Information Officer for that nationwide 60,000-member organization. An Air Force Academy graduate who also holds a Master’s in Information Technology, Lt. Col. Capicik is Vice President, Military Programs at American Sentinel University.


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