An interview’s an interview right? Wrong!

You’ve secured an interview – congratulations! Now you’ve just got to ace it. Which means understanding how it’s going to be structured, who you’re going to meet, and for how long. There are several different types of interview that you need to prepare for (oh yes, you need to prepare!) and the interview begins and ends long before and after the moment you speak with the hiring manager. Below are just some of the types of interviews you might encounter. In my next article, I’ll be showing you how to prepare effectively for them – stay tuned!

Competency-Based Interviews. These are also known as structured or behavioural interviews. They are more systematic with each question targeting a specific skill or competency. You will be asked questions relating to your behaviour in specific circumstances which you’ll need to back up with concrete examples. The interview panel (if more than one person is attending) will then dig further into the examples by asking for specific explanations about your behaviour or skills. These may be asked in context of actual events so it is best to have one or two examples for each competencies.

Normal Interviews are also called unstructured interviews. They are more like a conversation where you will be asked questions around what the organisation is looking for within the role. The interviewer’s aim is to form an overall picture of you to see if you fit the role and the organisation.  The questions you will be asked are typically open questions, and can be quite broad and varied, e.g. ‘What do you believe you can offer the company?’ In this type of interview you will be judged on the overall impression you leave with the interviewer rather than your core competencies, although these may also play a part.

Case Study Interviews. This type of interview was first introduced by management consulting firms and are deemed as one of the best and fairest ways to see how you might respond in real working scenarios. Typically, a case study interview will be held with a small group of candidates and are not only used to assess your creative thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills, but also to test how well you perform in a team. The topic of the case study could be on almost any subject or sector. The hiring manager would not expect you to know all the nuances of individual industries. They are testing your calibre and fit in order to judge whether you would be right for the role being offered.

Technical Interviews are an opportunity for employers to put your-earned skills to the test. Most questions will relate specifically to the role you have applied for, ranging across disciplines and including puzzles, problems and other questions designed to make you think hard on the spot. It is widely thought that this type of interview is a bad way to evaluate people, causing undue stress and disregarding the behaviours often required to perform effectively in a role. This type of interview is most frequently used for roles in engineering, science, IT, and sometimes financial services.

Panel Interviews can be a little daunting and uncomfortable for the interviewee, but they aren’t that different from a normal interview. They have become more and more popular, so it would not be unusual to experience a panel interview at some point during your job search. They save time for the company, especially if they are looking to fill several positions across the company, but they often provide you with better insight into the company by meeting more people. They can also help to reduce the potential bias of a single interviewer. You will typically have four or five people in attendance, but panel interviews can vary in themselves: some companies may have only one person asking the questions whilst the others listen and make note; other companies might invite questions from the whole panel. Usually questions will be focused on a specific area of expertise. For example, senior managers might be interested in how well you know the company and your commercial acumen. A line manager, on the other hand, might ask you more situational-based questions that will assess your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

Stress Interviews. As the name suggests, stress interviews are designed to put you under significant pressure. Although less common these days, they are intended to make you feel worse about yourself to understand how you respond in stressful situations. Typically, they are used for roles that require people to perform and excel under pressure, e.g. financial traders. The interview can include intimidation, interruptions when you’re speaking, inappropriate overly personal comments, or confusing questions but it’s worth remembering that this bears no relevance on how the interviewer feels about you as an individual. Quite simply, if you can’t take the heat then you’re not right for the role.

Phone and Video Interviews. Phone and video interviews have become increasingly more popular as a means for organisations to pre-screen you prior to deciding whether to meet you in person or not. They are also a cost-effective way for both parties to connect if you’re applying for a role overseas. The structure of phone and video interviews are usually very similar to interview types mentioned above, including panel interviews, so they should be taken just as seriously. Typically, organisations will test any or all of the following: your suitability for the job, your knowledge of the organisation, and how you measure up to their key criteria. Just because you’re interviewing from the comfort of your home, or from a hotel room while you’re on the road, doesn’t mean you should prepare any differently than you would if you were interviewing at the office.

In Summary
In all interview situations, be prepared, remain composed, and remember: it’s just another (slightly more formal) conversation, so don’t get tongue tied or nervous. To convince the employer that you can fulfil their needs for the role you’ve applied for, stay tuned for my next article on how to prepare and ace the interview!