April 7, 2016

4 Types of Interviewer – and How to Impress Them All


When preparing for interviews, it’s typical to anticipate the questions you will be asked and ready your answers to these questions. That’s a sound strategy, but it it’s important to remember that the questions you will face – and the answers you should give – will depend, in large part, on the type of person interviewing you.

For example, agency recruiters will ask different questions and look for different things in your responses than a CEO will. This means that, if you want to effectively prepare for an upcoming interview, you’ll need to take your interviewer into account.

Here are four common types of interviewer that you are likely to meet, as well as some tips to help you impress them:

1. The C-Level Exec

According to CareerBuilder, there is a good chance, – a 38 percent chance, to bee specific – that you’ll be required to interview with a C-level executive for your next job. What do CEOs, CFOs, and COOs want to hear from candidates?

In his book, The Corner Office, Adam Bryant outlines the three main qualities that execs often look for in employees. These qualities are:

– a failure/setback and comeback story (be prepared to describe a failure/setback and explain how it made you the great person you are today);

– fearlessness and willingness to take risks;

– and a team-player mindset.

If you can weave these general themes into your responses when interviewing with an exec, you’ll be well on your way to impressing them.

2. Agency Recruiters

Because agency recruiters are external to the employer they hire for, they often do not have the power to relax job requirements. As a result, they prefer candidates who are perfect fits.

When dealing with an agency recruiter, your best bet is to itemize the job requirements and clearly demonstrate your competency in each area. That way, the recruiter will have no doubt that you tick all the boxes – making you the kind of perfect candidate they are likely to recommend to a client.

Also, agency recruiters want to be assured that you are committed, as drop-outs and no-shows are costly to their business. Convince the recruiter that the role perfectly matches your personal objectives and that you are truly enthusiastic about it.

3. Hiring Managers

InterviewThis will be the direct supervisor of the team you will join if you land the role. Showing the hiring manager that you have the right skills is important, but your attitude is just as influential: Studies show that hiring managers favor candidates whom they feel will fit in with the team’s culture.

If you can convince a hiring manager that you are a great fit for their team, in terms of values, beliefs, personality, and interests, the hiring manager is more likely to warm to your candidacy.

4. Human Resources Pro/Corporate Recruiter

In my experience, an HR manager or corporate recruiter might not be able to convince a hiring manager to accept a candidate the hiring manager doesn’t like, but they can effectively ring alarm bells and put the brakes on inappropriate candidates.

How do you get HR on your side? The key here is demonstrating your soft skills, like your ability to collaborate, your persistence, and your communication skills. There is a firm, growing belief in HR that soft skills, attitude, and emotional intelligence are more crucial to success than technical skills are. If you fail to demonstrate adequate soft skills, you are likely to turn off an HR interviewer.

The way that you approach your job interviews should change according to the type of interviewer you sit with. That way, you can meet each and every interviewer’s particular expectations.

A one-size-fits-all approach won’t get you far in interviewing; it’s all about tailoring your methods to hit the specific notes that matter at each stage of the interview process with each type of interviewer.

Read more in Interview

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.