The Main Interview Types
A phone interview is typically followed by an in-person interview (usually more than one). If you are located far away from the company, sometimes the company will pay for you to travel to their offices (I was flown to Pittsburgh, PA and Knoxville, TN to interview for my very first professional job).
An in-person interview generally falls into three categories: single person, group interview, and multiple interviewers one at a time.
Single person Interviews
This type of interview is the easiest. It typically lasts no more than one hour and you only have to meet with one person.
This is not a typical style of interview. An employer would be smart to avoid using this type of interview since this does not give the employer a full perspective of the candidate.
This is also bad for the interviewee since it not give them a chance to understand the team they could be working with.
This is where multiple interviewers are in the same room with a single candidate. This interview style allows the interviewers to learn about you all at the same time. This is used for several reasons. In some cases there are several managers who would like to fill open positions. This interview style is also used so everybody can learn a little about you from their point of view while learning how you act in a group setting.
While interviewing for one of my previous jobs, I was in a group interview setting. One of the interviewers asked what I did as an engineer in my last role. I explained that I did several types of engineering work. The interviewer was growing frustrated and annoyed with me because he came from an environment where engineers did only one type of work and he thought I was dodging the question. I gave him several examples and he was still frustrated. I was getting worried and said “ I am sorry but I do not think we are connecting and I am not sure how to answer this any other way”.
Another of the interviewers jumped in and explained what it was to be an engineer in my previous industry which shut frustrated interviewer up. The other folks asked me a few other questions and the interview ended.
I thought I had bombed the interview. About 10 minutes later I received an offer to work there. I was so surprised.
After going to work for that company, I learned that I should be happy that I was not working for the frustrated interviewer. He was not a good manager to work under (side note: if you cannot connect with the person who is interviewing you maybe you should not work for them because there could be contention between you two).
The Group interview can be intimidating, but in this case your goal during any other interview is the same. Learn about the company and the role and explain how awesome you would be for that position.
In another group interview setting all of the interviewers had preprinted questions to ask me during the interview. I was super confident in this interview because I knew I had the skills to do well. After being given the job I was told that one of the interviewers thought I was arrogant. This means that you don’t have to make everybody happy in an interview and it does not have to be perfect to get the job. Also if you get the job follow up with some of the interviewers to learn what went well and what you could have done better for future interviews.
Multiple person, one at a time
In some cases there will be multiple people interviewing you, and you will meet with them one at a time. This type of interview takes several hours and can be exhausting. Though, it is my preferred type of interview.
This type of interview allows you to get to know each person a little more personally and sometimes they will share things which they would not have said in front of their peers. This works really well when you are asking the culture question (mentioned earlier). Each person has their own perspective on the company culture. Getting to know them a little better in this case is good too, since you will be interacting with these people on a regular basis.
In one interview where I met with the interviewers individually, one of the interviewers took me off to the side and told me he was willing to tell me what the average wage people were being paid at the company. I turned it down (I was not sure if it was good for me to have this info at that time) but in hindsight that would have been great for the negotiation where the winner is the one with the most information and patience.
In another case, one interviewer said “you will essentially be the proposal bitch”. This told me she was giving me the raw truth of the role which I did not get it elsewhere.