Types of Employment Interviews

A Comprehensive Guide to Interview Types

Depending on the skills required and the seniority of the position you are applying for, you may face any number of different interview types during the selection process.

It’s not uncommon to face any combination of the below interview formats for one role. Therefore, it’s important to understand what to expect in each interview so that you can thoroughly prepare.

Telephone Interviews

As you might expect, there are often multiple applicants for open vacancies. Hiring companies don’t have the time or resources to meet every individual face-to-face and they will use a telephone interview to screen promising candidates.

This is an excellent opportunity for you to impress and can be the least stressful part of the interview process if properly prepared for in advance. A major benefit for you here is the ability to have your CV and notes in front of you.

You will be asked standard interview questions around your past experience and suitability for the role. In addition, interviewees will be picking up on things like confidence, punctuality and communication skills.

Face-to-Face Interviews

The natural progression from a telephone interview is a face-to-face interview. This is your standard meet and greet normally with a single member of staff. Often your interviewer will be your direct line manager.

These interviews normally last no longer than 45 minutes and consist of a question and answer discussion surrounding your past experience, suitability for the role and knowledge of the hiring company.

Panel Interviews

Panel interviews involve a number of individuals interviewing a candidate as a panel, normally with one person chairing the discussion.

These can seem daunting at first but the benefit of having multiple interviewers is the increased potential for you to build rapport and avoid any lengthy silences. Remember to address the person who asked you the question rather than focussing on one individual.

Group Interviews

A common interview technique for jobs that have more than one opening is the group interview. Here you will be grouped with a selection of other candidates and assessed in a variety of ways.

Common interview practices include group discussions, team based tasks and presentations. You will be watched throughout the process by a team of assessors and judged not only on your merits as an individual but how you interact within a group dynamic.

Serial Interviews

Also known as sequential interviews, this process consists of back-to-back interviews with a selection of individuals. Normally each interviewer will be assessing you for different competencies. For example, you may spend 20 minutes with an HR Manager to evaluate your suitability for the culture of the organisation, then you may speak to an Operations Manager who will be judging your technical ability to perform the role at hand.

This can be a long and tiring process. It’s vital to stay alert and make sure you give each interviewer the same level of attention and respect, don’t assume the first or last individual is the most important. Answer all questions fully, even if you are repeating an answer you gave earlier.

Second Interviews

A second interview is a chance for the hiring company to get to know you better and ultimately make a decision on whether or not they wish to hire you.

This may involve meeting other senior members of staff and being asked some of the same questions you answered in the first interview. Make sure you review your previous answers and research on the company carefully to maintain consistency.

Informal Interviews

The informal interview can be used at various stages of the process. Some companies may open with an informal interview just to get to know candidate better. Others might use it as a second or final interview to see how you act in a less formal setting, such as a restaurant.

It’s important to remember that regardless of the name or the environment, this is still an interview and you should act accordingly. If discussions drift away from work keep them clean and keep any controversial opinions to yourself.

If you’re in a setting that requires you to order a drink, be mindful of what you request. Alcohol is not recommended, as is any drink that might cause unwanted behaviour such as strong coffee – you don’t want to become jittery or be taking frequent toilet breaks.

Competency Based Interviews

Competency or technical interviews are purely used to assess your ability to perform the role you are applying for. They will be built around the core competencies required for the job, which can normally be found on the job specification.

A competency-based interview can either take the form of a Q&A, or as a computer or paper based exam. If you require any clarification or special assistance with computers never be afraid to ask prior to your interview.

Portfolio Interviews

If you are applying for a position that requires you to produce demonstrable evidence of your previous achievements, you may be asked to provide a portfolio highlighting such work. For example, a Business Development Executive may be asked to provide a portfolio of previous proposals and quotes.

Your portfolio can be print or online based. Either way, ensure it is easy for your interviewer to read. Check all web addresses are working prior to your interview.

Now you know what to expect from the different types of interviews you might face why not read our Interview Tips page to help you prepare.