Fortunately, most people only have to deal with video chats, offices or coffee shops. Still, there’s a challenge. After all, every interview setting requires a different approach.
The key to success, no matter where your job interview takes place? Appear unaffected by the surroundings. Think of what Damone said in Fast Times at Ridgemont High:
“Act like wherever you are, that’s the place to be.”
Let’s take a look at a few of the many job interview settings you might encounter…
The Coffee Shop Interview
The idea of the coffee shop interview is for casual talk when companies aren’t comfortable enough to bring you in yet. It’s not like an old fashioned driving test where the instructor puts his coffee on the dashboard and says, “If even one drop of this coffee spills you’ll fail.”
While a cafe is a little less uptight than an office interview setting, sometimes being around other people can lead to feelings of self-consciousness, in the same way that it’s hard to urinate when someone’s watching (not a good analogy). Perhaps you don’t want people hearing the kind of answers you’re giving, and have nightmares of the entire cafe shaking their head at you in disappointment. Try not to worry about it.
You will never see any of these people again, and they want your interview to go well as much as you do. After all, there’s little worse than sitting next to one that isn’t.
The Webcam Interview
Webcam interviews can be a bit awkward since it feels like you’re an astronaut talking to people back on earth. There’s plenty of “Hello? Can you hear me? Is that you?” What’s great about a webcam interview setting is that you only have to dress nicely from the neck up. You don’t even need to put on pants, which gives you a bit of an advantage, unless the doorbell rings requiring you to get up. Better wear pants.
First decide where to sit in your home, with what’s behind you in mind. You could sit in front of a wall of hardbound books like a lawyer in a commercial, in front of the company’s poster that you just put up, or in front of a great view, which will make you look powerful like Gordon Gecko. Don’t sit in the bathroom.
Because the technology isn’t quite perfect and sometimes delayed, try to avoid talking over the interviewer. Check your camera angle and lighting, so you don’t appear like the bad guy in a horror movie.
The Office Interview
The office interview is the flagship interview setting. It is also among the most nerve-racking because of the professional environment. I mean, you’re surrounded by people who already have jobs in a room that probably isn’t decorated warmly. No throw pillows, no lava lamp, no hanging bead; how can anyone have a discussion there?
But fret not, because they don’t just bring anyone into the office. Getting an office interview often means that you’ve passed the first round, so walk in like you belong there, though don’t start firing people. Do all the research you can on the company and the people interviewing you, and then do some more. When you’re able to reference a company’s recent product releases or blog posts, it gives the impression that you’re invested in working there, and not someone who just likes talking to strangers.
Bottom line: the job interview settings you might encounter shouldn’t change your focus. Be on time. Dress well. And convince them you’re the answer to the problem they are trying to solve.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Jobscan.
About the Author: James Hu earned his bachelor’s of Information Systems and Finance from University of Washington. He is currently the Founder and CEO of Jobscan. James has also enjoyed work experiences at Boeing, Microsoft, Groupon, Kabam Games, and a start-up of his own. Through his work in the United States, China, and Spain/Gibraltar, James truly integrates a global mindset into his career. In his free time, he also enjoys water sports and backpacking. Follow James on Twitter.