What Kind of Interviewer Is That? Use This Field Guide for Job Seekers


You just never know what you're going to face when you walk into an interview. Will you be greeted by someone who's as focused as a hawk or as chatty as a bird? Here's a field guide to the most common varieties of job interviewer, including some survival tips for when you encounter them.

One of the most stressful aspects of interviewing is the surprise element. Hiring managers have different levels of experience with interviewing as well as their own personal styles, so they will take their own approaches to screening candidates.

This means that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for job seekers. Just as you tailor your cover letter and resume to a particular job opening, you should customize your game plan going into each new interview.No, you can’t figure out in advance exactly what kind of hiring manager you’ll face, but you can develop some strategies for dealing with the most common interviewer types. Here's a field guide with some interview tips that can help.

The Judge

This may be the easiest type to deal with, because she sticks to a pre-determined set of interview questions and seldom strays from the script. The Judge is process-oriented, takes detailed notes and may seem very formal or stiff. Don't expect a lot of casual chatting.

Your strategy: Keep your answers short and to the point. Speak slowly so that the interviewer can take accurate notes. Do not over-answer. Instead, stick with your primary talking points. You can’t go wrong if you succinctly describe your strengths and how they relate to the position.


The Rambler

To put you at ease and set a friendly tone, the Rambler might tell a long joke, complain about traffic or give detailed commentary on the weather. These types of asides will continue throughout the interview. Between questions, this interviewer may compliment your outfit or talk about his or her favorite TV show.

Your strategy: It’s okay to go along with the small talk, because it may help build rapport. But after awhile it may seem like you’re never going to get down to business. To ensure the hiring manager remembers you as a qualified candidate and not merely a nice person, tactfully bring the conversation to the subject of the meeting: what you can contribute as an employee. For example, "The team in that movie reminds me of the one I worked with at my last job. We really worked well together. In my role, I was responsible for ..."


The Surfer

"Just roll with the waves" is this person's motto. The Surfer has no time to prepare for interviews and prefers to improvise. This interviewer only glances at resumes and doesn’t plan questions in advance.

Your strategy: After all your careful preparation, you may feel frustrated when the person on the other side of the desk is winging it. Your best bet is to give deep, detailed answers. Talk about your past roles, responsibilities and accomplishments; certifications you’ve earned; and specialized training and awards you’ve received. And be sure to tie them to the open position.

The more prepared you are to face the most common types of hiring managers, the more confident you'll feel and the better you'll be able to adjust your approach during these discussions.

What other interview styles have you encountered during a job search? Share below.


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