3 Types of interview you might encounter
It is helpful to know the different types of interviews you might be invited to attend, and the demands they make of you. Although the format might differ slightly, keep in mind that the aim is always to see how good a fit there is between you and the needs of the employer.
The main types of interview you might encounter are as follows:
This is the most common form of interview. It can be in the form of a one-to-one meeting or there may be a sequence of such meetings, each with a different member of staff. Alternatively, some might be what is known as a ‘panel’ interview.
It is not unusual, especially in larger organisations and specifically in the public sector, for there to be several interviewers present. Specific skills are needed to handle this type of interview well. For instance, it is important to acknowledge each panel member and to maintain eye contact with the person speaking to you.
It is becoming more common for employers to use the telephone for interviews, especially in the early stages. They might do this in one of several ways:
- Automated – you will be given a freephone telephone number to call. When you do, you hear a series of statements and you press a number on the telephone keypad to give your response. Here the system records your responses, and screens out candidates whose responses do not match what the employer needs.
- Structured – you will be offered a time in advance to have a telephone interview. You answer a series of questions which are recorded and then analysed by trained interviewers, to establish whether or not you have the skills needed.
- Screening – this would be more conversational and you would be questioned about aspects of your CV or application form, in order determine whether or not to offer you a face-to-face interview.
You came across the idea of demonstrating the skills and competencies for a job last week. Organisations using a competency-based approach will want you to demonstrate your abilities with examples, so it is important to be prepared for this. Use the STAR technique before the interview to help you. You looked at STAR in Week 6 and you’ll recap in Section 7 this week.
It is also important that you show the ability and the interest to learn new skills, so if you are asked about something that is outside your experience, you could use an example of a time when you learned something new to illustrate your willingness to do this.
Some organisations have a series of steps in their interview process. They might ‘first interview’ a larger number of people who they think might fit their needs. From this, they select a smaller number of people, in a process known as ‘shortlisting’. If you are shortlisted, the interviewer will be looking for evidence of your skills, abilities and interests.
It is probably already evident that preparation for an interview is likely to lead to a better outcome. Being prepared gives you the best chance of coming across well. The next two sections focus on developing your interview strategy and practising how you will respond to questions you may be asked.