Interview types: What you need to know

Every job interview is different…

Although they all provide an opportunity to answer and ask questions, as well as learn more about the role – the structure and setting may vary from interview to interview. Whether it’s an initial screening process, a group assessment, or just a face-to-face chat – there’s an interview type for every occasion.

We’ve already covered how to prepare for an interview, but here’s everything you need to know about the five most common types of interviews:

 

The phone interview

What is it? A quick and cost effective way to screen candidates before inviting them to a face-to-face interview. It’s often used to see if what you’ve written on your CV adds up – whilst testing your telephone manner and communication skills.

What will it involve? Phone interviews usually involve a variety of common interview questions, which are asked to get a better idea of who you are and what you’re looking for.

Typical questions could include anything from ‘why are you leaving your current position?’ and ‘what do you know about the company?, to ‘what are your greatest achievements?’ and ‘what are your salary expectations?’

How long will it last? The exact length of phone interview will vary, but they usually last an average of 20-30 minutes.

How to prepare:

  • Do your research
  • Have your CV to hand
  • Prepare your answers
  • Write down questions you want to ask
  • Get rid of any distractions (e.g. phone alerts, TV sounds, impromptu appearances from your family/friends/cat)

How to stand out: Take notes, pause to think before you speak, listen at all times.

Telephone interview questions and answers

Telephone interview dos and don’ts

 

The video interview

What is it? An video call between a candidate and an interviewer. It’s primarily used for remote working roles, or as an initial screening process.

What will it involve? Video interviews normally follow the same structure and format as a face-to-face interview. Although they’re most commonly streamed live, some video interviews require you to pre-record your answers to send to the employer within a set amount of time.

They could involve one or more interviewer, and some employers may choose to record the interview, so they can review and compare against other candidates.  

How long will it last? Timings will usually be specified in advance, but most video interviews will last around 30 minutes.

How to prepare:

  • Organise your surroundings
  • Dress appropriately (PJs are never acceptable)
  • Avoid any potential interruptions
  • Have your CV and a notepad to hand
  • Test your equipment (e.g. your webcam, internet speed, sound quality)

How to stand out: Look at the camera instead of the screen, watch your posture, don’t wave your hands around too much.

Video interview questions and answers

Video interview tips

 

The face-to-face interview

What is it? A one-on-one conversation between a candidate and an interviewer. If more than one interviewer is present, it’s sometimes known as a ‘panel interview’. Face-to-face interviews are one of the most popular ways to recruit staff, and are used for a variety of roles.

What will it involve? Interviewers will usually ask a number of open-ended questions related to the role you’re applying for. Whether they’re job-specific or generic, your ability to answer them is a key area of judgment.

A recruiter may also choose to go through your CV in order to hear more about your skills and experience – so familiarising yourself with it beforehand is essential. Additionally, some interviews could include tests and quizzes (e.g. proof reading exercises) to assess your practical abilities.

How long will it last? Typically, face-to-face interviews will last at least 30 minutes – but could be as long as 60 minutes.

How to prepare:

How to stand out: Dress appropriately, relax, don’t make it all about you.  

How to prepare for an interview

Interview tips: our advice to help you ace the interview

12 things you should never do at an interview

 

The group interview

What is it? A common way of interviewing a number of candidates at the same time and setting – who have all applied for the same job.Group interviews are often held for roles involving team work and/or customer interaction, and for when an employer has more than one position to fill.

What will it involve? They usually involve a variety of group interview questions, activities, and assessments – which test your ability to work in a team, communicate effectively, and solve problems. Many activities mimic situations you may be in if you got the job.  

Typical tasks and activities could include: case studies, role plays, and practical tasks. Short one-to-one interviews may also be held on the same day.

How long will it last? The length of a group interview is dependent on the format and structure of the day – as well as the amount of people involved. Recruiters will usually inform you of how long it’ll take – but an average of 1.5 hours is a good ballpark figure.

How to prepare: 

  • Research the company and role
  • Prepare for the icebreaker
  • Practice your answers
  • Learn how to be inclusive
  • Plan your outfit

How to stand out: Don’t forget you’re always being assessed, take criticism on board, praise others’ ideas.

Group interview tasks and activities

Group interview dos and don’ts

 

The assessment day interview

What is it? An interview where a number of candidates are assessed on their skills and abilities. Commonly used by graduate employers, assessment days provide a fair, thorough, and objective way to select the best candidates.

What will it involve? Assessment days are made up of a range of tasks and activities – which are each designed to assess a variety of skills. These could include case studies, group work, problem-solving tasks, presentations, and psychometric tests.

Some assessment days are structured in the form of an activity day, while others will involve group dinners or lunches so interviewers can assess your interpersonal abilities in social situations.

How long will it last? Most assessment days will last a day, although some employers may hold assessment interviews that last anything from half a day to two days.

How to prepare: 

  • Research the company and role
  • Plan your outfit
  • Prepare and practice presentations (if needed)
  • Familiarise yourself with tests

How to stand out: Brush up on your skills beforehand, be polite, demonstrate assertiveness.

 

Other types of interviews: Competency-based interviews, lunch interviews, case interviews, second interviews.

 

 

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