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The right approach for the right interview

Wednesday July 9, 2014
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When most people talk about interviewing, theyíre usually thinking about a traditional hiring interview. Thatís the type in which you meet face to face with your potential direct superior. Much has been written about this type of interview, including an abundance of dos and doníts. But there are many types of interviews, and each presents its own challenges. Here are a few common types and some tips to get the most out of the experience.

The screening interview:

This is a preliminary procedure usually conducted by someone other than the individual for whom youíd be working, often someone from human resources or a nurse recruiter. It might be done in person or by telephone. The purpose of a screening interview is to make sure job candidates meet certain minimum standards. Itís also an opportunity to weed through the applicants and eliminate those who donít seem to have the right stuff, because of background or personality.

Because this is a preliminary interview, you donít have to elaborate on all of your work experience and special skills. You should answer the interviewerís questions succinctly. Thereís no need to ramble. Donít offer additional information unless itís particularly relevant to the position. Youíll have plenty of time for that later during the hiring interview. And while you donít have to wholeheartedly sell yourself to this person because he or she wonít be making the ultimate decision, you do have to impress the interviewer with your character. Be friendly, courteous, and professional.

Itís not necessary to send a thank-you note after a screening interview, although it certainly doesnít hurt. Itís an opportunity to express your interest in the job.

The phone interview:

The telephone interview has become popular both as a screening tool and as a device to interview candidates at a distance. It presents a unique challenge for the job candidate because thereís limited opportunity for strong nonverbal communication. The interviewer canít see you; he or she only can hear you.

Prepare for a phone interview just as you would a traditional interview. If this is other than a screening interview, write down some points you want to make and any questions you want to ask.

When the time for the interview arrives, be sure to go to a quiet location with minimal distractions where youíre not likely to be disturbed. Remember, the other party can hear whatís going on in the background, so if a radio is playing, a baby is crying, or youíre shuffling papers around or hitting computer keys, the interviewer will be able to hear it.

When itís time to talk, put a smile on your face even though the person on the other end canít see it. When you smile, thereís something in your voice that conveys friendliness and confidence. Be enthusiastic and assertive, and listen attentively. If the phone interview is something other than a preliminary screening interview, send a follow-up note.

The group interview:

In a group interview, youíre interviewed by more than one person, possibly a panel of people, in the same room at the same time. This is sometimes done as the preliminary interview in a series, or it might be the format for a subsequent interview. When making an appointment for the interview, itís always a good idea to ask who will be interviewing you. Get the names and titles of those involved. Research their background on Linkedin. That way, youíll be well-prepared.

On entering the interview room, make eye contact with all of the participants and shake each personís hand before and after the interview, even if you have to walk around a table to do so. Listen carefully to each personís name and, if possible, address every one by name during the interview. One person is likely to take the lead during the interview and ask most of the questions, but be sure to direct your answers and your eye contact to everyone in the room. Afterward, send a follow-up note to each of them.

The follow-up interview:

This often is one in a series of hiring interviews for a specific position. It might be done with the person who previously interviewed you or with different people. The purpose is to see how you fit in with the team and to get to know you better. Donít let your guard down or become complacent. In other words, donít assume you have the job because youíre being brought back. On subsequent interviews, dress and act as sharp as you did during the first one. Itís advisable to wear a different outfit for each event. Be prepared for more situational questions, such as ďWhat is the first thing youíd do as manager if you get this job?Ē or ďHow would you handle this situation?Ē

Itís not necessary to send multiple follow-up notes to the same person for subsequent interviews. This is one occasion for which an email follow-up would be appropriate. Send a traditional, typed thank-you note to anyone interviewing you for the first time.

Knowing how to handle various types of interviews will make you feel more confident and in control. Using the right approach demonstrates your workplace savvy and conveys professionalism. The bottom line: It will help you to land the job you want.

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, is Nurse.comís career advice columnist and president of DonnaCardillo.com.