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7 Interview Styles You Will Face As The Candidate

This post is about the job interview styles you’ll face as the candidate.

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A few days back I shared 10 candidate interview styles that make my blood run cold.  It was a summary of all the negative job interview styles I’ve seen from job seekers over my years as a hiring manager.  The point being that you need to shine in a job interview and these styles prevented your doing so.  A shame after all that hard work to get in the door.

And a number of you asked for a view from the other side of the desk.

What are some common hiring manager job interview styles and how do you react to them as a job seeker?

I tackled this to some extent during interview week here on the blog last year.  You can see the posts from that week here:

Welcome To Interview Week: Are You Ready?

Interview Week: What To Look And Listen For On Interview Day

Interview Week: How To Stay “Up” During A Long Interview Day

Interview Week: How To Nail The HR Interview

Interview Week:  Talking To The Social And The Serious

The last post above covers two of the job interview styles that I find most interesting.  The social and the serious are both difficult to manage as a candidate and I love to get your feedback on those.  If you’ve met them at some point in your interviewing career.

I also wrote posts about boring job interviews and silly job interviews. Now you are all caught up.

So here are five more newly identified job interview styles.  So that next time you are escorted into the interview room you can identify them quickly and react in a way that helps you stand out.  In a good way.

1.  The Careful

This style is found in people who are new to interviewing, are below your level or will be reporting into the role you for which you are interviewing.  They show their careful quality by asking really simple questions.  Almost apologetic.

Here is an opportunity.  To lead the job interview and to create raving fans within the interview team.  Because “the careful” want to do a good job.  But they also are nervous about asking tough questions to their future boss.  So ask them of yourself.  I once said to someone of the careful cloth: “You might be wondering how I like to lead a team.  What I am like to work for”.  And I received a thankful nod.  Almost relief.  And then it was like I was interviewing myself.  Asking questions that led me to the real concerns that I could answer with ease.  And I could see them becoming more confident as the interview progressed.  Felt good.

2.  The Brash

Brash is often associated with “young”.  And sometimes that is true.  Sometimes it is also just someone who feels that being on the job interview team gives them the ability to be especially confident.  This is one of those job interview styles that can be a bit tricky.  The last time I interviewed, I was introduced to a person who would be my direct report in the role.  He happened to be young.  Just a few years out of school.  Very smart I could tell.  He hit me with question after question.  Biting.  Nary a smile.

I marveled how he could do this to a potential future boss.  No fear of ramifications?  My strategy with him was to respond with strength and detail.  As best I could without playing the “future boss” card.  Because I wasn’t yet.  And I think that this person wants to see strength in return.

3.  The Unprepared

Sometimes people get busy the day before or the day of a job interview. They may have just been added to the job interview team. Or maybe they are just unprepared.  They walk in late, can’t find your resume, need time to clean their desk.  And finally after a few minutes look up and say “OK, let’s hear about you”.

To their defense, most companies are really bad about preparing their teams (circulating resumes, sharing a job description, and identifying specific hiring objectives).  But interviewing is one of the most important roles you can are asked to play.  The right new hire is crucial.  So the good ones prepare on their own.  Interviewing with this group is an opportunity.  For you to lead the charge by asking great questions, sharing situations in which you had a big impact and leaving the interviewer feeling like they did a pretty good job.  Despite their lack of preparation.

4.  The Talker

Some interviewers just like to hear themselves talk.  And some really want you to understand the complexities of their product line, industry, department, etc.  But it can be a challenge to communicate your unique value when the interviewer seems to be honing their own.  I’ve fallen into this trap before as an interviewer when the position is new to our company or when it is early in the interview process.  Sometimes those first few job interviews are an opportunity for the hiring manager to sound out a few new responsibilities for the position.  But a few minutes can last longer if the candidate seems happy to just sit there and listen.

My advice here is to engage the interviewer.  To interrupt the flow after a few minutes and ask a question that shows you are listening.  But that also allows you to share something about yourself.  Something that shows you appreciate the complexity the interviewer is trying to get across.  Very few people do this.  They are afraid of interrupting.

5.  The Heroic

A cousin of the talker, the heroic spends the first 15 minutes introducing you to the strengths of their company and their department.  Oh, and they like their own work pretty well too.  They will tend to set the bar extremely high for new employees.  Both in terms of your dedication and your weekly hours (i.e. “everyone here works 50+ hours because we believe in the cause”).

Now your role during the job interview is to determine if you believe in it.  Because if 50+ is really 60+, you need to decide whether that really fits into your life plan.  This style is designed to weed people out.  People who aren’t dedicated. People who will complain at the first sign of overtime.  While it is hard to get past the bravado, usually a few good questions can help you determine whether this is a place you’d like to work (a great, hard working, close-knit team) or a sweat shop.

Now I’d love to hear your list.

What are the one or two job interview styles you see as a job seeker and how you successfully respond to them?

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Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Job Interview Tips

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