We try to provide as much well-rounded interview advice as possible to help job seekers, but the truth is that not every piece of advice works for everyone. Just as in every aspect of life, different people have different interviewing styles. Knowing your style allows you to find tailored advice, prepare accordingly, and understand what motivates you.

Anna Papalia, CEO of Interviewology, conducted research that found four primary approaches to job interviews: charmers, challengers, examiners, and harmonizers. Each style has its strengths, weaknesses, and challenges, and there is no correct type. We’ll look at Papalia’s findings and how you can use this knowledge to strengthen your interview skills.


As you might expect, Charmers want to be liked. Charmers view interviews as a performance with themselves as the main character. Papalia describes herself as one thanks to her love of the interview process and the energy she receives from them.

Inc.’s Jessica Stillman summarizes success for Charmers as creating a warm, personal connection between the interview and the interviewee. They are skilled with opening up and talking about themselves in conversation and desire to find connection hooks. The danger with a charmer is that their efforts risk coming off as insincere and overly eager. They also might focus more on the conversation than on actually positioning themselves as the ideal candidate. If you’re a Charmer, seek not to forget about job qualifications and make sure to give the other side a chance to speak.


Meanwhile, Challengers want to be themselves. Challengers know who they are and what they need and aren’t afraid to steer the conversation in a way that aligns with their sense of self. In order to see if the role (or candidate when they are the interviewer) is right for them, they treat the conversation as a cross-examination.

Papalia explains that Challengers get their value through questioning, allowing them to get answers that let them know if this is the right opportunity for them. She says that often Challengers struggle with practice because they want to sound like their authentic selves and they worry they’ll sound staged. Papalia says that practicing will actually make a challenger appear more confident, enhancing their already formidable courageous and thought-provoking style.

“Challengers ask tough questions because they show their value in a job interview by being undaunted, strong and determined.” Anna Papalia


Many people view interviews as a test. You prepare all you can beforehand, and your “grade” leads to whether or not you get the job. For some, this mindset can lead to interview anxiety. For Examiners, who are motivated by getting things right, it’s the way they show their value.

Examiners want to be precise and see an interview as a test to pass with flying colors. They can be considered the opposite of Charmers and face opposing challenges. Where Charmers are concerned with the sizzle of the interview, Examiners are focused on the steak. While nailing the qualifications is a good thing, it is important not to ignore company culture. Hiring managers want someone qualified for the job but also someone who they’d enjoy working with. Keeping the value they bring to an organization is a great start, but an Examiner needs to make some effort to display likability and an interest in the culture.

“To an Examiner, an interview is a test where they think they will pass by displaying their mastery of facts and details and conveying their technical skills that would make them good for the job.” –Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., Forbes


Finally, we have the Harmonizers, who Papalia says most want to adapt. Harmonizers are, unsprisingly, focused on bringing harmony in their interviews and showing their value by being agreeable. For a harmonizer, your interview is a tryout for a team you want to be a part of.

Harmonizers are all about company culture. For a job seeker, that means wanting to fit into that culture, while for an interviewer, it means finding the candidate who is the biggest culture fit. In many ways, a Harmonizer is the opposite of a Challenger. Flexibility and adaptability are two of the most in-demand skills, but Harmonizers often risk not focusing on their own needs and can be people-pleasers. Papaila recommends Harmonizers practice focusing on their needs and praising their individual accomplishments in interviews.

Wrap up

Again, none of these styles are preferred over the other, and they can even blend or change. Papalia says the idea behind these classifications is so that job seekers and interviewers can gain deeper insight into the interviewing process and increase their awareness. Knowing your style will allow you to better understand what advice out there is most applicable to you and make you a more informed job seeker.

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