Interview basics

Different types of interviews

Face-to-face or panel interview

  • This is the most common format
  • These normally consist of 3-4 people, often drawn from different functions e.g. line management and HR.
  • Each interviewer will usually take it in turns to ask questions about defined areas.
  • You should concentrate on giving your answer to the person who asked the question, but include the others with an occasional glance or gesture.
  • See further advice on succeeding in these interviews.

Telephone interview

  • These usually happen in the early stages of the recruitment process.
  • Prepare as you would for a face to face interview and be aware of how to come across well in the absence of body language.
  • Have a copy of your application form, covering letter and CV in front of you for reference.
  • Make sure that you are in a quiet place with good phone reception where you will not be interrupted.
  • Find out more about telephone interviews.

Video interview

  • Interview takes place over the internet using video chat software (like Skype).
  • Prepare as you would for a face-to-face interview, but also make sure you are in a distraction-free environment with a good internet connection.
  • Find out more about video interviews.

Case study

  • Focuses on a case study exercise to test your analytical and problem solving skills.
  • They are also a way for you to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively.
  • Find out more about case study interviews.

Assessment centre

  • Assessment centres are used by many employers as part of the selection process and normally take place before the final selection is made.
  • They normally involve a series of extended selection procedures lasting one to two days and can include group exercises, written exercises, oral presentations and psychometric tests as well as interviews.
  • Find out more about assessment centres.

What are the interviewers looking for?

The three Cs

  1. Competencies
    Can you do the job? Do you have the qualifications, skills and experience necessary for the role?
  2. Commitment
    How much do you really want the job? Do you have the right motivation and enthusiasm?
  3. Cultural fit
    Will you fit in with the culture and values of the organisation? Would people enjoy working with you, and you them? Will you fit in with other employees?

What do they want?

There is a broad range of key qualities and skills that employers look for. Here are a selection of the most common:

  • Self-reliance: the ability to manage your own career and personal development. This demonstrates confidence, self-awareness and successful action planning.
  • The ability to communicate effectively. This can be demonstrated by both interpersonal skills, and the ability to interpret complex information and use it to present information and ideas.
  • Team players- those able to work effectively with others and take into account the strengths and weaknesses of others.
  • Generalists: candidates with general management skills such as good written communication, computer literacy, numeracy skills, time management and problem solving capabilities. Some organisations may require specialist skills for the job.
  • The drive and initiative to improve your own learning and performance. e.g. through identifying priorities, setting targets and monitoring objectives.

See further advice on succeeding in interviews.