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Anna Papalia: How to Win at Interviewing

Learn to identify your primary interview style and use it interview more effectively

Hi everyone. We’re excited to be back with SFS after a few hectic and sleep-deprived months with our new baby and a cross-country move.

Since our last show we appreciate the feedback we’ve received from many of you, and we’ve made a few changes to focus our offering and provide more flexibility around how to engage. Here are some of those changes:

  • Each week we’ll focus on a particular topic that’s relevant to your success in your career, wealth, health, and relationships.

  • For each topic we’ll bring in an expert guest to share their personal stories and insights from their experience.

    • We’ll send out a weekly newsletter (like this one) introducing each guest and provide actionable takeaways from our conversations.

    • The week following the newsletter release we’ll host an interactive show on SFS Live, where each guest will speak in depth about their topic of choice and provide live Q&A and group coaching to attendees. These shows are only accessible to SFS Live members.

Introducing Anna Papalia

This week we’re excited to speak with Anna Papalia. Anna is a longtime HR executive who left the corporate world and leveraged her experience to become the leading expert in the science of interviewing.

Ann grew up in in Portland, Maine, excelled academically, and worked full-time while in school to support herself and her family. She went on to major in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Post-graduation, Anna began a career in human resources and eventually became the Director of Talent Acquisition for leading insurance broker Conner Strong & Buckelew. However, her drive to innovate within the interview space led her to leave her corporate gig and establish Interviewology, a consulting firm that teaches job seekers and hiring managers the skills required to be more effective at interviews​.

Anna summarized her research in her best-selling book "Interviewology: The New Science of Interviewing," where she outlines the four primary interview styles that interviewers and interviewees fall into. These styles provide a framework for individuals to understand their tendencies and learn how to leverage them effectively. Papalia's approach is not just theoretical, but grounded in the science of personality, personal development, and influence.

If you’re a job-seeker, you probably know that the employment market is more competitive than ever. For most companies, interviews are the most critical hiring step, and most candidates simply don’t know — or care — to prepare effectively. Learning about interview style, and how to navigate the interview process as a result, can give you a leg up.

If you’re a hiring manager, it’s important to know that interviews can be one of the most effective tools in your hiring toolkit — but only if they are done well. Poorly-run interviews deliver worse outcomes than no interviews, and most companies simply don’t make the investment of time and training to interview effectively, even for many executive positions.

The four interview styles

Throughout her years of research Anna has identified a set of unique traits that each interviewer and interviewee possess. These traits cluster around four foundational interview styles that Anna refers to as Charmers, Challengers, Examiners, and Harmonizers. Each style is influenced by the person’s inherent personality traits and priorities.

  • Charmers aim to be liked and engage with eagerness.

  • Challengers prioritize authenticity and value questioning.

  • Examiners are precise and treat the interview as a pass/fail test.

  • Harmonizers are adaptable and seek to get along with the team.

These styles guide how individuals perceive and conduct themselves in an interview, creating a frame through which they engage with the candidate or employer. Understanding which style you align with can offer insights into leveraging your strengths and mitigating your weaknesses during an interview.

It’s important to recognize that all interview styles hold intrinsic value, but also have unique strengths and weaknesses. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to successful interviews, but it’s important to consider your personal style to maximize your odds of success.

How to determine your primary interview style

Want to assess your interview style with more precision?

To more accurately and comprehensively determine your personal interview style, take the interview style quiz from Interviewology and you’ll get a precise assessment with a breakdown of how best to adapt your interviews to your personal makeup and styles (either as a job-seeker or hiring manager)

Tips to leverage your interview style when you’re applying for a job

Tips to leverage your interview style when you’re evaluating candidates

Final thoughts

Your interview style is a snapshot in time, and is reflective but not determinative of how you interact in interview settings. And although we each tend to have a dominant interview style, the boundaries are often fuzzy and we typically incorporate elements of more than one style in our approach.

The most important overall strategy in interviewing is adapting to the interaction, regardless of whether you're an interviewee or interviewer. This is only possible with regular reflection and awareness of your interview style and the interview style of the interviewer/interviewee. With that awareness and regular practice, it becomes much easier to communicate your value to employers and to assess the value of a potential employee to your company.

Join our upcoming live conversation / Q&A with Anna Papalia

During our conversation Anna will share her top interview strategies (for both job-seekers and hiring managers). We’ll also host live Q&A during which you’ll have the opportunity to ask Anna your most pressing interview questions.

This show is open only to SFS Live members.
Non-members can sign up and use code SFSFREETRIAL1 at checkout to access the conversation and enjoy a 1-month free trial to SFS Live.

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