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Traditional Interview

For the next few blogs, we are doing a series on the different types of interviews you might encounter when job searching and how to prepare for them. It’s good to think about what kind of interview you’re headed into so you can prepare more effectively. Many job seekers feel a level of frustration with their search, and figuring out (and getting ready for) the interview is no exception. It’s important to understand how the different formats work so you can enhance your performance. Let’s start this week with the traditional interview.

The traditional interview is the most old-school.

For this format, a company will contact you and ask you to come to a common meeting place (usually their office) and interview in person. A recruiter, human resources manager, or your new potential supervisor (or a combination of any of these) usually conducts this interview. You’ll dress professionally and make the effort to drive to this interaction. Questions are usually straightforward and relate directly to the requirements for the position.

An employer is likely to use this format for several different reasons.

One, if they want information quickly, or to make a decision in a timely manner, they may choose this type of interview. Second, there’s no way to replace the ability to analyze a candidate’s poise and presentation than by meeting in person. The chemistry and energy they feel cannot be replaced through an online interaction, even by teleconference. Some things you can only tell when someone is sitting in front of you.

You’ll prepare first for this type of interview by paying closer attention to how you look than normal.

This includes not only your outfit but things like, have you taken care of your nails? Next, you can prepare by researching the company where you’ll be interviewing. What is their mission statement and what is their work culture like? Next, work on your own (and paying attention to others’) use of body language.

Perhaps the biggest difference of you’ll find when taking part in a traditional in-person interview is needing to pay close attention to things like eye contact, fidgeting, and how you’re using your hands to express yourself. During even a video interview, you can have your foot tapping away under your desk if you’re nervous, but an in-person interviewer is going to see something like this. So, you’ll want to keep good eye contact, make sure your body language is open (like uncross your arms), and sit up straight. You can also take cues from your interviewer’s body language about when to keep talking and when to move on. This aspect is one of the biggest advantages of interviewing in person.

Since the interview is traditional, you may encounter more typical questions like, “Tell me about a time you had to work as a team to overcome a problem at work?” or “What would you consider to be one of your greatest weaknesses?” The nice thing about these kinds of questions is that you can run an online search for common questions like these and practice your answers.

When you’re talking to an interviewer in person, you can really demonstrate how serious you are about the position. Another way this comes across is by asking good questions. You can focus on several aspects. One is to narrow in on what the job will be like on a daily basis such as, “What are some of the most challenging parts of this job?” or you can ask what they are looking for by inquiring, “Can you describe who is the ideal person for this job for you?” Then, look at their body language and tone. Are they happy with your questions? Are they looking for you to ask more?

Again, this type of interview allows you time to prepare and is advantageous because it gives you several different ways to impress your interviewer. You might also ask if you will be interviewed by just one person or a series of people or perhaps even by several people at once. Each one of these setups will require a slightly different strategy for preparation.


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