Three Types of Interviews

John Krautzel
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Throughout your career, it's likely that you have attended many job interviews. While most job seekers are familiar with formal job interviews, there are other times when you may not even be aware that you're being interviewed. Check out three types of interviews that you may run into, and learn how to conduct yourself during each.

1. Formal Interview

A formal job interview involves the familiar cover letter and resume application process, scheduled interview with a hiring manager or panel, and series of questions about your job skills, qualifications, experience and education. As a job seeker, it's likely that you've become accustomed to this type of interview and are well aware that you're being judged on everything from your personality and professional attire to your interview answers and resume-writing abilities.

To prepare for a formal interview, research the company and become familiar with its mission and goals. Get to know the job duties, and determine how your skills and qualifications line up with the company's needs. Practice your answers to tough interview questions, and prepare a list of thoughtful questions that you can ask to show your interest in the company and the job you're seeking.

2. Informational Interview

An informational interview does not require a job seeker to bring a resume, but it can provide some very insightful information that leads to success in his desired field. This type of interview requires finding a professional in the industry you're hoping to break into and asking him for 20 to 30 minutes of his time. During this interview, you, as the job seeker, ask the majority of the questions to gain as much valuable insight as you can about your chosen career or industry.

To prepare yourself for an informational interview, be sure you know the basics of the industry before you meet with your chosen professional. Jot down some questions that you want to ask, and prepare a list of topics that generate valuable discussion. After the informational interview, send the professional a thank-you note, and stay in touch. Provide him with a copy of your resume to pass on to others in the industry in case a suitable position becomes available.

3. Informal Interview

Informal interviews take place when you're not even thinking about it. Whether you're riding the subway, having lunch at a neighborhood bistro or browsing through a selection of novels at your local bookstore, others are judging you.

As a job seeker, think of your interaction with every person you pass as a possible networking opportunity and always conduct yourself respectfully. Keep in mind that the gentleman you inappropriately gesture to on the highway may be the hiring manager at your next job interview.

Whether you're sitting down for a scheduled job interview with several panelists, asking questions of a professional in your desired industry or ordering a latte in your local coffee shop, you are participating in an interview. Knowing these three types of interviews and being prepared for each increase your chances for success as a job seeker.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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