Be Prepared for These 6 Types of Interview Styles

For many job seekers, the interview is the most nerve-wracking part of the hiring process. After all, interviewers are individuals, each looking for different things from candidates. This makes preparing for an interview somewhat unpredictable—because what interests one hiring manager may turn off another.

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The good news is that experienced interviewers tend to develop a personal style, and you can learn to recognize these styles and tailor your interview responses accordingly. Here are six common types of interviews, with tips on how to handle yourself in each situation.



This interviewer isn’t really focused on talking to you, and it shows. It’s a common style for new or unprepared interviewers, or those who have bigger and more urgent projects in the works and have had to tack interviewing onto their to-do list.

What to do: Hone in on the most important thing you want them to know about you, and keep things as simple as possible. A distracted interviewer will almost always come away with a weak impression. If possible, offer to reschedule the interview.


You’ve probably met this type of person before. He smiles a lot, makes jokes, and wants you to relax in their presence. The Buddy may come in one of two forms—an inexperienced interviewer who is just as nervous as you, or an expert who wants to put you at ease and extract more information than you’d otherwise reveal.

What to do: In either case, you should return the friendliness, but don’t let your guard down. Be alert to what is being asked of you, and be aware of your responses.


The opposite of The Buddy, this type is never amused. You’ll be asked hard questions about your experiences, and may come away from the interview vowing to never suffer through another one again.

What to do: In most cases, an Inquisition style interviewer is testing you to see how you’ll perform under pressure. Stay calm and collected, and don’t believe that a tough interview means you won’t get the job. If you impress this interviewer, you could gain a strong advocate.

Laser Focused

A frequent style adopted by line managers, this interviewer is focused almost exclusively on a single topic.

What to do: Make sure you satisfy the requirement this interviewer is focusing on, and then relax. If you’re hired, you can always bring further questions to the HR department.

Shotgun Style

Finding yourself pelted with questions on every topic imaginable means you’re being interviewed in a Shotgun style examination. This type of interview is challenging, because you won’t have a clue what the interviewer is looking for.

What to do: Rely on the thorough interview prep work you’ve done beforehand, and match your strengths to the questions. Hang in there!

Magic Bullet

This interviewer has a magic question up his sleeve, and your response will determine whether or not you’re hired. Typically, The Magic Bullet will fire off a few short questions regarding your skills, and then relax and pop The Question—which often sounds like it has nothing to do with the job, such as the “If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?” question.

What to do: Answer the magic question directly and honestly, and then proceed calmly with the rest of the interview.

When you’re on the interview trail, it’s important to be able to tailor your responses to the interviewer. Plan for each of these interview styles ahead of time, and you’ll be ready to tackle anything. For more help with the interview process, contact the staffing experts at PsychPros.

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