Types of interview

Being prepared for the different types of interview you may face is essential for landing a job. Let us give you the low-down on what to expect.

1

Telephone/video interviews

Telephone interviews are just that, a telephone conversation with a recruiter. These usually take place at the start of the recruitment process so that the recruiter can get a feel for the candidate. These are at a time pre-agreed upon by you and the interviewer and most don’t last longer than 30 minutes. There’s no cause for too much concern at this point, really. Recruiters mainly use telephone interviews to screen for weaker candidates in as cost-effective a way as possible, before whittling it down to the gems in the later stages of hiring.

Making sure you nail your telephone manner, communicate your knowledge, and come across in a clear understandable way is really important.

The important thing with telephone interviews is to not forget the fundamentals. As much as having a good grasp of the knowledge you’ll need later on in the interview process will help you here, making sure you nail your telephone manner, communicate your knowledge, and come across in a clear understandable way is just as important. You’ll be surprised, recruiters can tell a lot about a person’s organisation and personality from one phone call. Here’s a few tips on being successful at this stage:

    • Plan for questions that are going to come up, do plenty of preliminary research and prepare beforehand. If you’re unsure when it comes to your telephone manner, getting a friend or family member to test you over the phone is a good shout.

    • At this stage questions are going to largely focus on your CV and cover letter. Make sure you have that with you, as well as any notes that may help you.

    • At times, a recruiter may cut you off in order to move on to the next question. Don’t panic. This usually means you’ve already satisfactorily answered the question and the interviewer is moving on to save time. They’ve got a lot of people to get through, you know…

    • Don’t treat a telephone interview any different simply because they can’t see you. In fact, you should be trying even harder to project the right level of interest and enthusiasm with your voice, as the interviewer will not be able to pick it up in your body language. Stay focused, professional and for the love of all that’s holy, don’t use any slang.

    • You may think this is unnecessary for a phone interview, but dressing as if you’re meeting them face-to-face will put you in a work-focused mindset and really help with nerves. If you’re having a video interview however, dressing properly is essential; tidy up the space where you’ll be taking the call and whatever you do, don’t wear pyjamas…

    • Seems self-explanatory, but this is the place you’re most likely to slip up. Set a reminder for when your interview is and then make sure you’re home, ready, distraction-free and that your phone is charged. Letting this slide due to poor organisation is an automatic deal-breaker.

    • By the end of your conversation, the interviewer has made their decision about whether or not you can progress. If they don’t tell you right then, then there’s no shame in asking them when you could hear back. If they do tell you, thank them regardless and ask for details on the next stage.

2

Face-to-face interviews

If you make it to a face-to-face interview, congratulate yourself – you’re the cream of the crop. In a world where thousands of candidates get their applications binned at the first or second hurdle, you’ve come to a point where you can interact with your recruiter in real life. Naturally, this comes with its benefits as well as its drawbacks and you need to be prepared for the different formats.

Find out what your interviewer’s goals, career path and pet projects are and engage them. LinkedIn is your friend.

3

One-on-one

This’ll be the one you’re most familiar with (or will soon come to be). One-on-one, face-to-face interviews are most companies’ preferred form of combat. In these the manager in charge of hiring, who’s typically also in charge of your department, will sit down with you and ask a series of questions that not only reveal your competences but your motivations and your compatibility with the culture. It takes two to tango though, and this is how you can make the right moves:

    • If you know you’re going to be talking to someone for half an hour, it might be a good idea to find out a bit about them. Find out what your interviewer’s goals, career path and pet projects are and engage them. LinkedIn is your friend.

    • Everything you answer should relate back to this in some way. Remember, you’re being considered to solve a problem.

    • It’s a cliché, but a firm handshake and a smile from the off really does go a long way. As does your outfit. These may seem inconsequential details but they’re important.

    • Don’t obsess over it, but cardinal sins like slouching and lack of eye contact can keep you from getting your point across.

    • You’ll perform a lot better if you’re a bit loose. Just remember to take a short breath and engage your brain before you speak. It’s not a race!

    • Don’t take question time for granted. It’s your chance to show that you’ve been paying attention, you’re interested and you’ve done your research.

    • Do this as soon as you get in the building and put it away. Now is the time to not get distracted!

4

Panel interviews

If one interviewer isn’t enough to separate the wheat from the chaff, the company might go with a panel of experts to assess new potential talent. This is usually made up of the hiring manager, two or three people that they trust and someone from the department you could potentially be working in. The same techniques should fly here as did in a one-on-one, but just remember; you’re playing to a wider audience here, so your answers have to compensate accordingly. Here’s how:

    • Don’t fly into a panel interview blind. Know who’s coming to the party and prepare accordingly, especially for whoever’s likely to be making the hiring decision.

    • The interesting thing about this format is that it allows for a bit more of an open conversation compared to a back-and-forth Q&A format. Use it to your advantage – be chatty and show your best form.

    • Address your answers to the whole panel and make eye contact with everyone. Be careful not to cut anyone out, they might hold your fate in their hand.

    • Bear in mind who might have a particular interest in your answer to a question. If it involves the work you might end up doing, bring a potential colleague on the panel into the conversation. If it involves HR, engage the relevant manager. It shows that you already understand the office dynamic.

5

Group interviews

They’re an odd phenomenon but they do sometimes happen. Some employers prefer to assess people in a group format. Again, there’s an efficiency argument to be observed as to why they do this (to see multiple candidates at once) but perhaps more crucially, they get to assess people’s emotional intelligence as well as their teamwork and social skills.

Take time not just to talk to the recruiters but to the other candidates. You’re competing, but they aren’t your enemy.

They may assign you a task to complete as a team, as well as set challenges for individuals and pairs. Be prepared to give presentations on the fly too; you’ll almost certainly come across something like this in an assessment centre, so it might be worth knowing how you can make the most of your opportunity with less of a spotlight.

    • Take time not just to talk to the recruiters but to the other candidates. You’re competing, but they aren’t your enemy. There might be plenty to learn from them.

    • When the opportunity presents itself to show leadership, demonstrate it. Pitch an idea, bring someone quiet into the conversation… anything that shows good management skills.

    • While this doesn’t necessarily mean you should blabber something at every available opportunity you get, don’t let yourself be forgotten about. Try and pop up with a useful question or observation every so often and definitely don’t be scared to put your hand up.

    • Equally, don’t forget about the counterpart. Not only do recruiters often tell you exactly what they’re looking for, but others are likely to have great ideas too – ones that you can build on.

    • Recruiters definitely want to see who will take the group opportunity and use it to denigrate the other candidates. Don’t be that guy. Sell your ability and ideas but allow other people to get their points across, collaborating and showing your teamwork skills where possible. Crucially, treat everyone in the room with respect.

So there you have it, every type of interview you could come across. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Guides for more in-depth information on a whole host of topics about careers and jobs. Best of luck, Debutants.

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