Don’t get caught out by the interview spectrum

Years ago if you wanted a job you could be sure you would have to go to the offices of the company you applied to, have a formal interview probably with the person you’d be working for and then perhaps wait a week or two to hear anything back.

These days, candidates need to be prepared for a broad spectrum of interview types and techniques which extend far beyond this traditional view.

Here’s my guide to the interview types you need to be prepared for when job-hunting.

The informal coffee

There has been an increase in the number of companies moving away from formal interviews towards this more casual approach of meeting candidates. But beware, it’s not really an informal coffee, it’s an interview.

It is, however, a chance for you to get to know your potential employer/manager, and for them to get to know you, in a slightly more relaxed setting. It will still include talking through your experience, answering questions and selling your skills so you still need to on your toes and treat this as if it was an interview. Dress as though you were going for an interview at the company, be prepared and don’t get lulled into a false sense of security!

The phone interview

Often used as a first screening step to quickly sift through likely candidates, the phone interview can be fairly short when compared to a full interview.

Typically around 30 minutes, these interviews will focus on bringing your CV to life so you can expect to answer the usual questions about your background and experience as well as why you want the job. It’s still important to do your preparation and research on the company before a telephone interview so you are prepared for questions about the business.

You should expect that a phone interview is scheduled with you, so if someone calls out of the blue be prepared to politely say that now isn’t a good time and arrange a time that is.

Find yourself a quiet room, turn off your call-waiting function, have a copy of your CV and your preparation to hand and grab a glass of water ahead of the scheduled time.

The video interview

To save time and cost, many companies are introducing a video interview as the first stage interview.  This will typically be approximately 60 minutes (maybe longer) and may include a mix of CV-based questions and some competency-based questions that you would expect in a face to face interview.

In addition to the tips above for a phone interview, make sure you prepare your environment to make the right first impression (think about the posters in the background and  the tidiness of your room) and also make sure you dress in the same way you would to attend a face to face interview with that company.

The panel interview

Depending on the type of role you are applying for, you may find your interview will be  carried out by a panel of people made up of the manager recruiting for the position, along with an HR representative and perhaps a team member. This format is still widely used for public sector roles such as teaching and for some more senior positions. You will need to ensure you build rapport and make eye contact with all of the panel throughout the interview, so don’t only focus on the recruiting manager.

Expect to be asked questions by everyone on the panel, and do politely ask who they are and their role if they don’t explicitly introduce themselves.

The group interview

Used increasingly by bigger companies as a way of seeing lots of candidates at once and in different settings, group interviews can take all day. Often used for graduate recruitment this approach can involve  a wide range of activities, which could include individual tests, group exercises such as solving a problem or challenge, as well as a one-on-one interview, maybe a role-play activity and a presentation. This approach allows the managers to see candidates perform in different scenarios and will often involve a number of assessors observing throughout so remember you will be judged on how you interact with the other candidates as well as on your performance in the tasks.

The face to face interview

Despite all the different types of interview the traditional face to face interview is still popular but the format and style of these vary differently depending on the type of role you are applying for.

The face to face option may be the second interview after some of the above or there may be a first and second interview stage. Some will still involve a set format using suite of competency based questions (Tell us about a time when…) with one interviewer and maybe one note-taker.  Others may be less structured and more of a conversation about the role, responsibilities and how you will be able to deliver against these based on your experience.

These types of interviews may also include different parts such as an aptitude test, personality questionnaire, presentation/role-play or a tour round the site/office.  Make sure you ask questions about what the interview will involve so you can fully prepare and can ensure you are wearing the right clothing/footwear.

The chief exec interview

Depending on your seniority you may be asked to have a meeting with the chief executive or other senior director of the company. The good news is you’ve probably got to the final stage if you’re being asked to do this. This recently happened to a client of mine for a middle management role where the CEO wanted to actively participate in all hiring decisions and give approval of new recruits.

Prepare as you would for a normal interview, but also do some research on the person you’re meeting. What can you find out about their career, other jobs they’ve had or companies they’ve worked for? Do you have any of this in common? What questions can you ask them about the future plans and vision for the business you are looking to join?

Use this as an opportunity to weigh up whether you’d like to work in a company run by this person. Do you share any values? Do they match the impression you already have of the company culture?

Like a boy scout, always be prepared

This spectrum of interviews illustrates the variety in the types of interviews you might experience and I am sure there are more and that new types will emerge as technology evolves.  The most important thing is to find out as much about the process as possible to enable you to prepare and not get caught out.

Whether you have a big interview coming up and want help to prepare or are just embarking on your search for the next perfect job, give me a call on 07765 894040 to find out how my career coaching can help and to book your free chemistry session.

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