Types of interview
Types of interview
What should you expect?
Employers may use various types of interview, this page outlines what to expect for the most common of these. For help preparing for all these types of interviews check out our Preparing for an interview page.
An interview with just one person. If you know in advance who your interviewer will be, do some research on their background. Have some questions prepared. You can ask them about their role and the culture of the organisation. Book a mock interview with the Careers Centre to practise answering different types of questions.
A panel interview is the same as face-to-face but will include more than one interviewer. The panel is usually made up of employees from different areas of the company. They may take it in turn to ask questions, if so, when responding ensure you address your answer to whoever asked the question but glance, from time to time, at the other members of the panel.
A group interview involves several candidates who will be asked questions in turn. They may ask you to engage in a group discussion on a certain topic or pose questions to other candidates or the panel. Here are some tips for group interviews:
- Practise an introduction it is likely all candidates will be asked to introduce themselves.
- Arrive early and introduce yourself to other candidates. Use peoples names during the interview.
- Try to build a rapport and see yourself as part of a group, rather than seeing them as your competition.
- Listen to the other candidates and acknowledge their comments. It is likely the employer will be judging how you interact with others.
Case study interviews: used primarily by management consultants, they are designed to replicate the kind of complex business problems you would encounter in the role. Take your time: you will be assessed on how you work through the problem, identify the key issues and structure your answer. Most questions will have several valid solutions.
Video interviews are an efficient and cost effective stage in the application process for both the employer and candidates. Many different employers are using this method as it provides a quick and efficient way of filtering applications. The usual process is for the student to book a time slot, at any hour. You will be given guidelines on how to prepare, with regard to lighting and screen resolution. Unlike a Skype interview, you are not communicating with another person; instead you are answering pre-recorded questions that appear on the screen. Typically, you will have a short time to prepare your answer. You then have a set time to answer.
You are likely to be asked one or two motivational questions and four or five competency questions. There may be an opportunity at the end (about two minutes) for you to give additional information. This is your chance to stand out, so make the most of this opportunity to market yourself and bring in any key points that you have not had a chance to mention before. We now offer practise video interviews which you can book by following the instructions at the bottom of our mock interview page.
Sequential interviews involve being interviewed more than once by different people on the same day. You may find that you are interviewed by more senior members of the organisation as you go through the day or that the questions change. For example one interview may focus on competencies and another on knowledge of the organisation and wider industry. Be prepared for questions to become more in-depth and challenging through the day. At the initial stages, you may be assessed on whether you can do the job. At later stages, with more senior staff, you may be judged on how much you want the role and how you may fit in.
Telephone interviews are often used at an early stage in the selection process particularly by large employers. You should prepare in the same way as for a face-to-face interview because often the questions are very similar. There are some important things to remember when preparing for a telephone interview:
- Think in advance about the time of the day and location. Try to use a quiet room with a landline.
- If you are using a mobile phone, make sure you have a good signal and your battery is fully charged.
- Sit up straight or even stand up, and remember to smile it makes a difference to your voice!
- Dressing the part can also help you be more purposeful when answering questions.
- Book a mock telephone interview with the Careers Centre to see what works best for you.
Skype interviews are popular for jobs overseas and are becoming more popular with employers as they are more cost efficient and time efficient than inviting candidates to interview. There are some important things to remember when preparing for a Skype interview:
- Practise with a friend at the same time of day as your real interview, so that you can check equipment and internet connection, lighting, background, if notes are visible on your desk/table.
- Dress as you would for a face to face interview.
- Turn off other programmes on your computer.
- At the start of the interview remember to ask for their email and contact number in case you get cut off.
- Look at the camera, not the screen, sit upright and remember your body language.
The questions asked at interview may take different formats:
- Competency-based: you will be asked to give evidence of the skills and competencies that are key to the job - these can usually be found in the person specification. Be prepared to support your answer using evidence from your past experience. A useful strategy for answering these questions is using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique.
- Technical: If you are applying for jobs requiring specific technical knowledge it is likely you will be asked about it in an interview or may even have a separate technical interview. Employers will be interested in your thought processes and logic as well as your specific skills and knowledge.
- Strengths-based: starting to be used by graduate recruiters such as Ernst and Young, Aviva and Unilever. It differs from competency-based as instead of focussing on what you can do, it looks at what you enjoy doing therefore seeking out your natural strengths and ensuring you will be able to utilise them within the role.
How we can help you.
Come and have a chat with one of our advisers at our drop in, 9am-4pm Monday to Friday, for further advice on interviews. From here we can also offer you a mock interview to put your preparation into practise. We run workshops on interview techniques and employer presentations to give you insider information on a range of organisations and their recruitment processes. We also have lots of helpful books on interviews in our information room.