Five Popular Employment Interview Styles


By Sharon Graham.

Interviewers use various strategies to uncover and identify each job-seeker’s “fit” for a particular position. Here are five major styles of interviews that our clients might encounter.

The Traditional Interview is historically the most common interview style that employers utilize in Canada. In most cases, the interviewer will start with a cursory review of the client’s résumé and ask questions related to his or her background and qualifications. Then, the interviewer may follow up with common questions such as:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • What is your management style?

During the traditional interview, the interviewer will likely ask questions related to obstacles – reasons that the candidate may not qualify for the job. The purpose of these questions is to determine if there is a reasonable explanation for the obstacle or if the interviewer should eliminate the person from further interviews. Clients can shine during traditional interviews by focusing on their Value Proposition. Prior to the interview, role-playing responses to potential questions is an important and helpful exercise.

The Behavioural Interview is a very common type of interview where the discussion focuses on specific examples of past performance, which provide indicators of future behaviour.

You can help clients prepare for behavioural interviews by having them develop some high-impact stories using the SAR (Situation, Action, Result) technique. First, the client will describe a specific situation or task he or she needed to resolve or accomplish. Details such as names, dates, and places should be included to add credibility to the situation. Next, the client describes the specific action he or she took to address the situation. Finally, he or she will describe the positive results achieved, including how the organization benefited by the action(s) taken. If possible, numbers should be included to quantify the results. Coach clients to be concise and to the point with their responses to show clarity and focus.

The Situational Interview occurs when candidates are asked to respond to specific scenarios they may face on the job. Typically, situational questions ask how the candidate would handle a theoretical situation. These types of questions are designed to draw out decision-making, quick-thinking, and problem-solving competencies.

The recruiter will ask factual questions based on difficult scenarios that may occur in the role. The goal for the candidate is to respond thoughtfully and decisively. To prepare for a situational interview, it is most important to research the company and study the needs and challenges of the role well in advance of the interview. If your client understands the core of the role, he or she will be able to demonstrate an ability to think quickly and give well-considered responses to the questions.

The Stress Interview is a deliberate attempt to make the interview difficult in order to determine how the candidate will perform under pressure. The interview may start out in a relaxed fashion or be deliberately held later than the appointed time. Your client may be kept waiting for a long period. Once the interview starts, it will quickly become negative in tone. The interviewer may be rude, sarcastic, argumentative, or ask “trick” questions. The candidate might face long silences or cold stares and be challenged on issues of belief or judgment.

To prepare for a potential stress interview, the candidate should go into the interview relaxed, rested, and prepared. He or she should always remember that a stress interview is a game. It is not personal, so it is best to not to rush answers. To succeed in a stress interview, the candidate should calmly answer each question as it comes.

The Case Interview is a high-level, structured interviewing strategy used in some consulting companies and other firms to assess senior-level applicants. Case studies are designed to assess problem-solving abilities. The candidate studies the case and provides recommended solutions to the described business challenge.

The case interview requires that the candidate make a presentation in front of the board or interviewing team. He or she must use a structured, point-by-point process to highlight how the business situation will be advanced from its current state to where the corporate mission, vision, and objectives require it to be.

To learn more about these and other types of employment interviews, consider registering for CPC’s online Employment Interview Coaching course (CDP-03). This fully-facilitated interactive course is designed to upgrade your skills and enable you to apply emotional intelligence, relationship building, value proposition, constructive feedback, and role-play in your client sessions. You’ll uncover effective strategies and new responses to challenging interview questions and scenarios. By successfully completing CDP-03, you’ll become eligible to Fast-Track your Certified Interview Strategist (CIS) credential.

The next Employment Interview Coaching course starts soon. Class sizes are small, so register now!

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