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Four Types of Interviewers: How to Approach Each One

April 27th, 2012

Your interview preparation process may be intense and thoough, but no matter how confident you may feel before your interview, one unexpected or off-putting gesture from an interviewer might cause you to stumble and lose focus for a moment. So with that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of common approaches and personality traits that often show up among hiring managers and sometimes throw candidates for a loop. Be ready for each of these types of interviewers, and know what to do when you see them coming.

1. Types of Interviewers: The Friendly Interviewer

The friendly interviewer greets you with a warm handshake, makes you feel welcome and respected, and is perfectly comfortable with off-topic chit chat. Around people like this, we tend to open up and set aside our inhibitions. This is great, since honesty and openness contribute to a meaningful interview on both sides of the table. But just remember: your levels of disclosure are not equal. And though this interviewer is happy to draw you out, he’s not here to be your friend. He’s here to serve the company. So relax, but not too much. Enjoy your conversation, but continue to think carefully before you speak.

2. Types of Interviewers: The Stickler

The stickler is less likely to wander off-topic, and an interview with her may seem more like an oral exam. She conducts interviews by-the-book, in exact accordance with protocol. When you encounter the stickler, don’t qualify your answers too much, don’t get too chummy, and don’t become flustered if she drives the conversation forward in a robotic way. She has a task to do and she’s just trying to do it correctly. Help her by answering her questions as clearly, directly, and completely as you can.

3. Types of Interviewers: The Specific Searcher

The specific searcher gives the impression that she’s looking for something, and it’s not something she’s likely to state upfront. There’s not much you can do about this one. She may be looking for a clone of the person who held the position before you, or she may be scanning your answers for keywords and red flags. Just relax and be honest. If you’re a leader, don’t pretend to be a follower because you sense that’s what she wants. By the same token, don’t pretend to be competitive if you’re a team player, and don’t sell yourself as the unstructured type if you thrive in a structured, organized workplace. Just be yourself. Trying to second guess her intentions will only cause confusion for both of you.

4. Types of Interviewers: The Questionable Future Employer (aka the Jerk)

Does your interview feel like an interrogation? Does the interviewer try to fluster, anger, or intimidate you? Does he accuse you of misstating your credentials, or ask you to list and describe your weaknesses? Does he ask silly, demeaning questions designed to test your “sense of humor”? If your conversation seems to be following this pattern, something’s wrong. Feel free to stay for the duration of the interview if you like, but re-examine your interest in the position. Is this really a person you’d like to work with every day? Remember, an interview is a two sided interaction. Follow your instincts, and don’t commit to a job that doesn’t feel right.

For more help with interview preparation and the job search process in general, reach out to your local recruitment agency in Fairfield County at Merritt Staffing.

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