Five Types of Interviewers

Truth be told, I would rather be interviewed than interview. I hate inflicting anxiety on someone, and my goal as a career counselor is to get a student relaxed before we start a mock interview.

One thing I hope is empowering to recent grads facing interviews is that they may actually be more prepared than the interviewer. But then…on a less than encouraging note, that also means that there are some really bad interviewers out there and no matter how prepared you are you may experience an awkward interview. But…have no fear… has identified five types of interviewers to prepare for, and I thought they captured them well. So…be prepared and go forth and knock their socks off!

1. The Non-Stop Talker
You’ve seen the type – they talk more than they ask questions. This sometimes presents a vulnerable situation whereby the interviewer chats personally and sucks you into feeling comfortable enough to move with the conversation. This might lead you to state some information that you might not want to reveal at this time. Be polite and respond with friendliness as the interviewer will appreciate this quality. So carefully listen to the questions and respond in a professional manner. Wait for those opportunities to ask pertinent questions relative to the position or the company. It shows your interest in what the interviewer has to say and allows them to continue with their chatter.

2. The Drill Sergeant
Opposite of the chatter is the interviewer who maintains domination over the conversation by firing off a list of questions in a monotone voice. This might be a bit intimidating but their goal might be to do just that – make you nervous. Maintain your eye contact with strong earnest, remain calm and confident, look for ways to return some questions, and provide solid answers without adding chatter. Stick to the pertinent information and be ready for the continued drill.

3. Following Traditional Rules
This style of interviewing is somewhat predictable as they tend to follow a script or specific list of questions. This interviewer wants to be objective and neutral or isn’t comfortable with the interviewing process. Allow the interviewer to remain in their comfort zone by sticking with the routine. Again, listen for opportunities to ask questions about the position or the company – subject matter that the interviewer is knowledgeable about and willing to discuss.

4. The Newbie (the inexperienced)
Everyone has to start somewhere and encountering an ill-prepared or inexperienced interviewer can be a bit tricky. They may be new to the company or new to the hiring process but you don’t want to “take over” the conversation and leave them uncomfortable. Stay on course with the planned points and try not to ask questions that you already know they won’t have answers for. However it is your interview and if they are unable to provide enough information for your own comfort level, then perhaps ask if there is another person with whom you could schedule a discussion.

5. The Inappropriate Interviewer
Fortunately not too often, there are the interviewers who inappropriately ask questions. If you encounter someone who steps out of bounds, making you uncomfortable, try to redirect the discussion back to a professional path. This shows the interviewer that you prefer to maintain the discussion around job or company-related subject matter. If their line of questioning persists, it’s best to thank them for their time and conclude the discussion.

Then there is the one you don’t expect

Almost all interviewers fit into one of the five categories already discussed here but there may be an occasion where someone fits outside these five types. It’s unlikely, however if this happens you might want to try patterning some of their own behaviors and speech. Some hiring managers like people who remind them of themselves. In other words, adapt to their style.

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