The Job Interview
By Dawn Rosenberg McKay, About.com Guide

A job interview is your chance to show an employer what kind of employee he or she will get if you're hired. That is why it is essential to be well prepared for the job interview. Preparing means knowing about the industry, the employer, and yourself. It means paying attention to details like personal appearance, punctuality, and demeanor.

Knowledge is always your best weapon and so you should arm yourself with plenty of it. That starts with the very basic bit of knowledge regarding job interviews. Before you research the industry and the company and even before you practice answering the questions you might be asked, you should have some general information about job interviews. Let's start by going over the different types of interviews you might face.

Types of Job Interviews:

The Screening Interview

Your first interview with a particular employer will often be the screening interview. This is usually an interview with someone in human resources. It may take place in person or on the telephone. He or she will have a copy of your resume in hand and will try to verify the information on it. The human resources representative will want to find out if you meet the minimum qualifications for the job and, if you do, you will be passed on to the next step.

The Selection Interview

The selection interview is the step in the process which makes people the most anxious. The employer knows you are qualified to do the job. While you may have the skills to perform the tasks that are required by the job in question, the employer needs to know if you have the personality necessary to "fit in." Someone who can't interact well with management and co-workers may disrupt the functioning of an entire department. This ultimately can affect the company's bottom line. Many experts feel that this can be determined within the first several minutes of the interview. However, more than one person being interviewed for a single opening may appear to fit in. Often, job candidates are invited back for several interviews with different people before a final decision is made.

The Group Interview

In the group interview, several job candidates are questioned at once. Since any group naturally stratifies into leaders and followers, the interviewer can easily find out into which category each candidate falls. In addition to determining whether you are a leader or a follower, the interviewer can also learn whether you are a "team player." You should do nothing other than act naturally. Acting like a leader if you are not one may get you a job that is inappropriate for you.

The Panel Interview

In a panel interview, the candidate is interviewed by several people at once. Although it can be quite intimidating, you should try to remain calm. Try to establish rapport with each member of the panel. Make eye contact with each one as you answer his or her question.

The Stress Interview

The stress interview is not a very nice way to be introduced to the company that may end up being your future employer. It is, however, a technique employers sometimes use to weed out candidates who cannot handle adversity. The interviewer may try to artificially introduce stress into the interview by asking questions so quickly that the candidate doesn't have time to answer each one. Another interviewer trying to introduce stress may respond to a candidate's answers with silence. The interviewer may also ask weird questions, not to determine what the job candidate answers, but how he or she answers.

According to Interviewing by The National Business Employment Weekly (John Wiley and Sons, 1994), the job candidate should first "recognize that you're in the situation. Once you realize what's happening, it's much easier to stay calm because you can mentally re-frame the situation. Then you have two choices: Play along or refuse to be treated so poorly." If you do play along, the book recommends later finding out if the reason for conducting a stress interview is legitimate. That will determine if this is a company for whom you want to work.


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