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Interview Types: Case Interviews, Technical Interviews, and Beyond!

After pulling up your sleeves and putting together a polished resume with a great cover letter to match, you finally heard the words you’d waited so long to hear: “We’d like to have you in for an interview” Elated, you spent the next several days reading up on interview questions and devouring article after article on how to impress interviewers. You’re sitting in the receptionist’s area when your name is called. “The panel is ready,” the receptionist says. Panel? You think to yourself as you’re led down a series of hallways. I never prepared for that! Unfortunately, this is a scenario that plays out far too often. For those who don’t want to be blindsided during the hiring process, here are some lesser known types of interviews.  

Phone Interviews

Phone interviews are usually the “first stage” before a face-to-face interview. This happens pretty often when you’re dealing with a job that’s in another city or state or that otherwise requires an extra level of care.  

What to Expect

These interviews will usually flow the same way a regular interview would. The main difference is that it's taking place over the phone. You should prepare for a phone interview like you'd prepare for an in-person interview; research the company you're applying to, prepare some questions to ask, and confirm the interview details ahead of time, including date, time, and who you'll be talking to.  

Potential Snags

Time zones need to be clarified ahead of time. Not being able to see the other person's body language can also be a double-edged sword. When you're going by vocal inflections, it can be tough to gauge how the interviewer's responding to your answers. Background noise can also be a nuisance during a phone interview and can make you seem unprofessional. Prepare for your interview by finding a quiet, distraction-free place to take your call. There's nothing worse than trying to do a phone interview in a noisy room or public space!  

How to Shine:

Is there a particular impression you want to make? Are you one of those people who gets distracted easily when you're on the phone? You can do yourself a favor and “cheat” by having your notes in front of you during the phone interview.  

Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviews help employers get a handle on how an applicant is likely to act on the job. Interviewers attempt to get a better picture of you as a person as you answer questions using your past experiences.  

What Can You Expect

The purpose here is to get a sense of what you're like as a person. You'll be given prompts such as: "Describe a decision you made that wasn't popular and how you handled implementing it." "Give an example of a situation in which you used logic to solve a difficult problem." "Talk about a significant goal you have set in the past and how you reached it." In a behavioral interview you'll be giving lengthy answers, since you'll be asked questions that require in-depth answers  

Potential Snags

You might not be able to make associations quickly enough, which can raise a red flag with some interviewers. You may also have questions about the adequacy of the experience you’re drawing from.  

How to Shine

Know what the company's looking for in a prospective employee and think of times when you've demonstrated those desirable qualities. Make a list of significant professional experiences before the interview, including goals you reached, conflicts you mediated, suggestions you have made, and difficult situations you have navigated. Relevant experiences and answers will show your interviewer that you’re an excellent fit for the position.  

Case Interviews

Remember those word problems you used to do in Math? Case interviews are based on the same concept. You’re given a problem and asked to solve it. Rather than having applicants talk about their problem-solving abilities, case interviews allow a company to see these analytical skills in action.  

What to Expect

You’ll be given a problem that’s rooted in the real world and asked to apply your knowledge and skills to solve it. For instance, if you're being interviewed by a company that provides consultations, you may be given a client scenario and asked to describe the steps you'd take to solve it. Often, you'll be asked a question that has nothing to do with your field but that allows the interviewer to see your logical and analytical skills in action. For example, an interviewer might ask you to estimate the number of windows in New York City or ask you to calculate how long it would take an investment to double at different interest rates.  

Potential Snags

It’s easy to get lost or frazzled when dealing with these problems. This is why it's so important to gather your thoughts and stay organized.  

How to Shine

Read up on the knowledge and skills needed for the job. It's the best way to make sure that you do a great job on your interview. After all, you don't want to lose your train of thought or to find yourself attempting to solve the problems with outdated methodologies. The best thing you can do for yourself is to solve lots of example case interview questions, which you can find online or in instructional apps and books.  

Technical Interviews

Much like case interviews, technical interviews allow a potential employer to test an applicant’s skill-level. The emphasis in this type of interview will be on mathematical reasoning and logic and on specific relevant skills, such as programming in a particular language. Typically used in IT and programming jobs, a technical interview can make or break you as a candidate.  

What to Expect

Expect questions that’ll test your reasoning skills. Be prepared to answer a number of these logic-based riddles. These questions won't be easy. You may be asked to sit down at a computer and write code, or you might have to sketch out a solution to a problem on a whiteboard.  

Potential Snags

It takes practice to get the hang of those brainteasers. Many people have trouble answering them on the first go. If you want to impress your interviewers, this is the time to do so. Another potential snag is the lack of up-to-date technical knowledge in your field.  

How to Shine

Your best bet is to study. You'd be surprised at the number of candidates who go into this unprepared. Practice so that you’re comfortable doing mathematical reasoning and short logic puzzles on the spot, and review the fundamentals of your field.  

Panel Interviews

As the name implies, this is an interview in which a group of decision-makers questions the applicant.  

What to Expect

You'll most likely be sitting facing a long desk, with your panel on the opposite side. The questions will come flying. It’s normal to feel out of sorts when it’s happening. After all, the dynamics of a group interview can feel very different to a job candidate.  

Potential Snags

Being uncomfortable with the panel can throw you out of your comfort zone. In addition, it's harder for a candidate to "bond" with a larger group of people.  

How to Shine

Be mentally prepared for the possibility of being interviewed by than one person. If you find out that you're being interviewed by a panel, don't be intimidated. This is your chance to show off how quickly you can think on your feet. Be sure to acknowledge the person who asks each question, and draw connections between questions asked by different panel members. As employers have started using new methods to evaluate potential hires, job applicants have had to adjust accordingly. Phone interviews, panel interviews, technical interviews, case interviews, and behavioral interviews are just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to be ready for anything that gets thrown at you, you’ll want to be aware of the different interview types and what each of them entails.