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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.

The Four Best Ways to Tank a Job Interview

March 9th, 2012

When we head out the door on the way to a job interview, most of us know that we’re about to step into a stressful situation. We’re ready to control the things we can and let go of the things we can’t. We’re wearing strong deodorant, we have plenty of copies of our resume in hand, our timepieces are accurate, and the tanks of our cars (bought from used car for sale) are full.

But unfortunately, even the best preparation can’t protect some candidates from silly, preventable, interview-killing mistakes. Don’t become one of these candidates. If you’ve landed a promising job interview, congratulations! Now just avoid these simple blunders that often take place before applicants have a chance to close the deal.

Brain-Mouth Disengagement

A well-qualified, promising applicant can tank his chances entirely with one witless remark during an interview. If you tend to blurt things out when you get nervous, recognize this tendency and plan ahead. Try this tip: Pause for two full seconds (two Mississippis) before responding to any question, even a pleasant inquiry about the weather or your drive to the venue. A two second pause is short enough not to seem odd to your interviewer, but it’s long enough for you to take a full breath and assemble your thoughts before your mouth opens.


While you’re pausing and counting out two full seconds, make sure that what you’re about to say is honest. Positive spin is one thing, but exaggeration and outright lies are another. If you’re asked about your experience, feel free to focus on accomplishments that are relevant to the position, even if you have to pick and choose among the things you’ve done. But don’t stretch the truth.

This also applies to anything you commit to writing in the form of an application or resume. It should go without saying, but never claim schools, degrees, positions or affiliations that aren’t real. And never “adjust” your dates of previous employment. These are easy lies for your employer to uncover, and the resulting humiliation isn’t worth the risk.

Underestimating the Value of Appearances

If you aren’t sure what to wear, opt for a simple grey suit in an updated style. Suits with either pants or skirts are almost always appropriate, no matter the position. If the workplace and venue are more relaxed, feel free to wear a simple, conservative shirt and tie with pressed trousers, or a neat blouse and skirt ensemble. In any case, err on the side of formality. And check carefully for loose threads and tiny stains before you leave the house. Neatness and attention to detail will show respect for both your interviewer and yourself.

Emphasizing Your Own Needs

Try not to focus on your own needs until you have an offer in hand. It’s true that an interview is a two- way street, and you’ll need to evaluate your potential employer just as she evaluates you. But don’t quiz her about salary, bonuses, parking, or perks until later. For now, make sure you emphasize all the contributions you’re ready to make to the business, rather than the benefits you intend to take away.

Contact a personnel staffing agency at Merritt Staffing for specific questions about interview protocol and help with the job search process.

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