When was the last time you had a job interview? Do you even remember it? In today’s significantly changing world, candidates are experiencing a variety of different job interviews that will highlight the difference between getting the job or being second best.
If you’ve ever thought about what type of job interview you will be going into or what to expect from your next interview, we’ve put together a selection of the most common job interviews you might be faced with and our top tips on how to prepare for them.
A telephone interview is used at an early stage of the recruitment process to filter out applicants. More and more companies are carrying out pre-interview telephone screening before inviting the candidate for a face-to-face interview, so it’s crucial you are fully prepared to speak over the phone. Questions are likely to be competency based and this interview is your opportunity to show your enthusiasm and commitment to the role.
Tips to help you prepare:
- Research and plan – find out as much about the role as possible. Ask the recruiter, research the company, write down potential questions and plan answers.
- Practice before the interview – practice makes perfect. If you need help, ask a friend or a relative to give you a call and run through some questions with you. Ask for feedback.
- Set up your environment – make sure you’re in a quiet environment and have good phone signal. Turn off your TV, grab a pen and paper and take a deep breath.
- Stay calm and be professional – answer the phone professionally. Be polite and enthusiastic. Take your time, pause if you need to think, if you need clarification, ask the interviewer to rephrase the question and answer clearly.
- Take notes – if you can, write down what you remember from your interview whilst its fresh. This may be useful should you go through to the next stage.
Panel interviews are quite common and can be featured at assessment centres or at a standard interview. You could find yourself facing two or more interviewers. It may seem daunting at first, but it can actually be fairer and work in your favour as you will have different view points and the majority vote counts. The goal of this type of interview is to minimise the risk of a bad hire.
Tips to help your prepare:
- Plan ahead – find out in advance whether you will be interviewed by a panel or not and who the panel are. Each panellist may be from different parts of the business, so prepare in advance so you know what you are going into.
- Engage the group with your responses – strengthen your rapport with the group by tailoring your answers to address the entire group. For example, you may be asked how you would effectively manage a team. Your answer could be specific enough so that it crosses all departments.
- Be aware of your body language – it’s important to connect with the entire group of interviewers. Try to ensure you don’t just focus on the person who might be asking the majority of the questions. Initially directly address the person asking the question, but ensure you gaze and shift your body across the room.
- Control the pace of the conversation – the interviewers may start firing questions at you faster than you can answer. If this happens, breathe and take your time. Don’t rush an answer, make sure you answer briefly so you can move to the next question.
- Prepare for follow-up questions – this type of interview usually evokes more follow up questions. To avoid coming up short of content, make sure you are prepared and have multiple examples of your experience and achievements.
Strengths-based interview questions are about predicting your future potential. Some employers are moving away from competency-based interviews to now mainly using a strengths-based approach.
Tips to help you prepare:
- Listen carefully to the question – strengths-based questions are likely to be quick-fire and might end up asking something subtly different to what you expect, so listen carefully to the question before you answer.
- Bring in previous experiences – it’s always great to bring in examples of your previous experience. Although strength-based questions aren’t competency-based, it helps to show evidence.
- Try to engage with your answers – recruiters often assess your engagement by looking at your body language. So, use positive language and show your engagement.
- Be calm and take your time – don’t worry if you’re nervous. Interviewers will be trained to look beyond this in a strength-based interview. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
- Ensure your enthusiasm comes through – show your enthusiasm through your answers. Show your motivation and energy for the job and any natural behaviours that come through.
More and more employers are using video interviews as part of their recruitment process, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two types you may face, live and pre-recorded. Pre-recorded is used to filter our candidates, similar to telephone interviews and live is similar to that of a face-to-face interview. Video interviews can either be with the hiring manager or a recruiter. Interviewing in this way allows the hiring organisation to tap into a wider, more diverse pool of talent.
Tips to help you prepare:
- Practice on your own – record yourself on your laptop and replay the recording to see how you come across on screen. Take your own feedback and change your approach if needed.
- Check your body language and tone of voice – remember you are on screen and the employer can still make a judgement based on your body language. Make sure you aren’t slouching or fidgeting and speak clearly.
- Prepare notes – make some notes and put these somewhere you can clearly see them. It’s ok to glance at notes but don’t sit there reading from them.
- Be professional and dress to impress – don’t forget the interviewer can see you. Treat this like a face-to-face interview. Make sure you look professional by wearing what you would wear to an interview. This will also make you feel more confident.
- Find a quiet place – check your surroundings. Make sure you are free from any distractions, pets, family, etc. Make sure your background is free from clutter and any embarrassing items. Turn off any computer programmes you are not using.
Competency-based questions regularly crop up. Employers are able to identify the skills and abilities that are vital for working in their organisation. To measure your suitability you will need to demonstrate times when you have shown particular competencies.
Tips to help you prepare:
- Prepare your answers in advance – find some example questions online and write out answers to each question in advance. Draw on examples from your life so far and demonstrate when you have employed particular competencies.
- Use the STAR technique – with competency-based questions it’s very easy to go of topic providing too much detail on the situation. To help you, use the STAR approach to structure your answer – Situation, Task, Action, Result.
- Demonstrate teamwork – you should dedicate most of your answers to the Action part of the STAR approach. If you are responding to a teamwork question, you should focus on your role in the team and how you approached the specific task.
- Pay attention to the interviewer – the strongest candidates are those who can adapt their answers and behaviours to what they know the interview is looking for. Take your cues from their level of formality and show that you are paying attention.
- Use examples from both work and personal life – give relevant, honest structured answers that showcase your experience while letting your personality shine through. Employers don’t want a text book answer.
For further careers support, view our post tips to writing a great CV.