In a recent Harvard Business Review IdeaCast podcast episode titled ‘What’s Your Interview Style?’, the discussion centred around research on identifying four distinct interview styles and their impact. Anna Papalia, a former director of talent acquisition, author, and interview trainer, delved into these interview styles and provided insights on how to effectively leverage your own approach during your next job interview. 

Four primary interview styles 

Not everyone will interview in the same manner. After collecting a plethora of research and evidence, Papalia uncovered four different interview styles. It is important to understand your interview style to be successful in an interview. 

1. Charmers 

      Charmers go into an interview with the goal of making a connection. They rely on their personality and use compliments or tell a joke. Charmers may tend to overemphasize the importance of connection and might be successful in getting the interviewer to like them but forget to offer quantifiable examples to showcase their accomplishments.  

      Charmer-type hiring managers may be more interested in getting along and fail to test candidates to discover if the individual is truly qualified for the role. 

      2. Challengers 

          Challengers aren’t as accommodating as charmers, and they look at an interview as a cross examination. This interview style type showcases their value by asking challenging questions, are highly skeptical, thought provoking, and strong.  

          An interviewer with this style may be more confrontational. However, their intention is to test the potential candidate’s capabilities and assess how they perform under pressure or when faced with adversity. 

          3. Examiners 

          Examiners view an interview as a test that they pass or fail. Individuals with this style don’t need to be liked and sees an interview as a business opportunity. Examiners are often more private and professional. As a result, they may hold back. Their answers can be short and to the point without any elaboration.  

          Hiring managers with this style ask pointed questions and are only seeking to know if the person can do the job successfully. 

          4. Harmonizers 

          Harmonizers prioritize the collective. They view taking on a new role like joining a team. These individuals seek the well-being of the whole and often focus on what “we” can accomplish. Harmonizers usually have a hard time owning their success and accomplishments, as they want to get along, collaborate, and contribute to the success of everyone.  

          A hiring manager with this style should maintain objectivity and avoid bias toward those who share similar experiences or perspectives. 

          Is one style better than the other? 

          Interestingly, Papalia discovered that among these four different interview types, one style isn’t better than the other:  

          “One of the best things I learned in this entire process is that I was dead wrong, that there isn’t one style that’s better at interviewing than others. There was an equal distribution. I realized that we all have a capacity to nail the job interview, but we all do it differently. And to be better understood in job interviews means understanding where we’re all coming from, because we have entirely unique ways of doing this.” 

          Anna Papalia emphasizes the importance of authenticity during interviews, cautioning against merely telling interviewers what they want to hear, or assuming a false persona. Recognizing the various interview styles can contribute to your authenticity.  

          While your interview style is inherently tied to your personality and cannot be fundamentally changed, you can still learn to adapt. Sharing quantifiable examples through storytelling allows you to remain true to yourself while effectively conveying the necessary information. 

          Papalia’s research also found that there was a normal distribution of the data she collected; meaning there is a mix of different styles in all industries.  

          Before you are invited to your next job interview, consider these four types and which is your interview style. This will help you not only to leverage your strengths, but to also adapt depending on the interviewer.  

          If you have questions about an upcoming interview, or are seeking advice regarding your resume, our team is here to help.