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Common Types of Interviews

Today we’ll be looking at the most common types of interviews and how you approach them, to ensure you are well prepared and help you make a good impression to your potential employer. Remember that a job interview is beneficial for both parties. For an employer, they want to know whether your personality and abilities are a great match for their business and if you have the right attitude to do well within the organisation. For yourself, the aim of the game is to sell your ware, which is to demonstrate your skills, explain your achievements to date, show your passion, drive and energy. Also you will get a sense of whether the role and company match up to your own career goals and aspirations.

Interviews styles have changed considerable over the years and one style no longer fits all. Nowadays they come in all shapes and sizes. Over the years, interviews have become more thought through and are much more sophisticated. This in turn has lengthened the interview process to accommodate the different stages. You may be invited to have a Skype interview, or be asked to present to a panel or you may even be asked to lunch!

Regardless of the format or style, below we will give you an insight on the typical types of interviews and tips to ensure you succeed.

Telephone interview

This is typically the first-round screening that companies use to see if you are worth inviting in for a full interview. This interview will be short and concise. Usually human resources or the line manager will interview to assess if you have the rights skills and experience for the role.

So, making a great impression is vital. Preparation for this is the same as it would be for a face to face interview but with an additional benefit of having your answers written out in front of you.

Tips: Know yourself, your key skills against the role, show your passion and enthusiasm and ensure that you speak confidently and at a good pace. Thank the interviewer for their time.

Skype interview

These interviews are similar to a face to face, however the interview is not done in person but via your computer or device. More and more companies and recruitment agencies are using this method given the advancements in technology and especially if time is of the essence and parties are in different locations. Again, this interview is typically used to screen or shortlist a number of applicants. You would prepare for this the same way that you would for the traditional face to face interview.

Tips: Ensure that your system is working perfectly, you are online on time and that you have no interruptions if Skyping from your home/office. Dress appropriately … well at least your top half! Ensure you have done your research and make good eye contact.

Traditional face to face interview

This is the most commonly used type of interview. Usually you will sit with a solo interviewer and they will ask you a series of questions which are designed around the role, company and person required to help them find the right candidate for the job.

Tips: The best way to impress is to ensure that you arrive for your interview early and dress appropriately. Ensure you are fully prepared for the interview in advance. For a recap please refer to week 8 on how to prepare for an interview.

Panel interview

More and more companies are involving a number of individuals into the interview process. It usually involves internal stakeholders within the business who will interact with the individual in the post on a day to day basis. Here companies are assessing the individual from difference perspectives and their interaction with difference individuals within the business. This can be very daunting and even the most experienced can be thrown, not knowing the interview is a panel interview.

Tips: Ensure you know beforehand who the interviewers are and their disciplines within the firm. Prepare for some questions that you think they may ask and more importantly how you would answer them. Direct your answers to the individual asking the question. However, maintain good eye contact with all.

Group interview

Group interviews are where several individuals are invited for an interview at the same time. Although this style of interview is not common for senior appointments, they are still used at entry level, graduate roles, internships or where there are multiple hires for the same role, such as sales or hospitality. You may be asked to be involved in a group task, where you have to work together to resolve a problem or asked to interact with each other in a group discussion.

Tips: The loudest is not always the smartest. You need to shine through by thought out answers and making sure you speak up and give your opinion. Involve others to also give their views and find the best solutions to the task at hand. It takes some guts and a few brave moves in a considered manner.

Competency based interview

In a competency interview, the questions are structured to reflect the competencies the employer is seeking for the particular role. These could be leadership, teamwork or negotiation skills to name but a few and are usually detailed in the job specification.

Tips: Understand the competency that is being assessed, prepare answers in advance using the STAR techniques. ‘Give me an example on a time when you have had to resolve a staff issue between 2 members of your team?’ Think of a Situation you have encountered this, explain what you were Tasked with, talk thorough the Actions you took and explain the Result. Ensure your answers give enough depth but are concise so it keeps the interviewer engaged.

Puzzle interview

Many companies have been known to ask “puzzle” questions, like, “How many ping pong balls can fit into a red telephone box?” These questions may be thrown into a formal interview at any time and can catch the interviewee by surprise. This may seem very random, but your interviewer wants to determine how quickly you can think on your feet, can you deal with curve ball situations and what is your approach to difficult unusual situations, and how you would take action in the face of a challenge.

Tips: Remain calm and treat these questions logically as you would treat a business problem, relay your thoughts on how you would tackle the scenario and give your recommendations.

The lunch interview

Being asked for a lunch with a potential employer would suggest it’s a good sign. This usually is at the end of the interview process and the interviewer would want to learn a little more about you as an individual and life outside of work.

Tips: Think about interests outside of work, hobbies, family or sports. Find some common ground to talk about. Ensure it’s a two-way conversation and keep the conversation upbeat. Remember you are being assessed still and also remember you are still assessing the company and the personnel too.

Apprentice style interview

A very thought-out interview style and this will typically be done at 2nd/3rd interview stage. Normally an outline of the day will be given beforehand, so you will know what needs to be prepared for the day. Usually the process takes 2-4 hours and the candidate is genuinely mentally shattered after the interview.

Apprentice style interviews can be a combination of the above and some of the below.

Walk around interview – Around the offices/factory – Here the business is assessing if you can interact and engage with the personnel and talk openly.

Presentation – The business may ask you to present to a group of Managers/Directors on a real business scenario or it could be on a topic of your choice. Normally this is done on PowerPoint with a slide deck. Usually you present for 10-15 mins followed by 15-20 mins question and answer session with a panel interview.

Tips: Embrace the process and enjoy it, be adaptable and respectful to the process, compose yourself for each stage and ensure all questions are answered.

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