Different Types of Interviews

In the course of applying for jobs, you may have experienced or heard about a number of different types of interview. These involve any combination of different elements, comprising the number of interviewers, types of questions and approaches to questioning, through to different formats for the selection process itself.

While you can get an initial idea of how the selection process for a job will work – will there be one interview or two, will it be a panel of interviewers or just one person – it is harder to anticipate different styles for the interview itself.

By understanding how the different styles of interview work, you stand a lower chance of being surprised and left feeling uncomfortable during the interview itself. Being prepared can only enhance your performance.

One-to-One Interviews

Most people are familiar with one-to-one interviews, as these are the most traditional type of interview format. The interviewer in this case is usually the manager or supervisor for the job to be filled.

With a loose structure, these interviews are fairly flexible. Your goal is to bond with that interviewer, not only impressing them with your skills and experience, but encouraging them to like you.

Panel Interviews

This type of interview typically involves between two and five interviewers. Panel interviews are normally more formal and structured, with each person having their own designated questions to ask.

While the panel interview may seem daunting, it is actually fairer, for there is less room for personal dislikes to impede your candidacy.

There are usually one or two key people, while the others are representing different areas of the organisation. Your goal is to identify the two key people and to persuade them ahead of the others.

Serial Interviews

This is a variation on the above formats, requiring the candidate to sit a number of one-to-one interviews on the same day. These serial interviews all take place with all candidates before a decision is made.

Your goal is to remain fresh and to adapt to each individual interviewer, establishing bonds with them all.

Behavioural (or Situational) Interviews

These interviews aim to glean indications about your future performance by exploring your previous behaviour.

The behavioural interview question invites you to draw on an example from your past experience. The example you’re asked to give might relate to a work situation, a project, or a situation involving a ‘people problem’ from outside the workplace. The aim is to gauge your chances of future success by hearing what you’ve accomplished before.

These questions usually start in one of the following ways: “Give an example of…”, “Tell me about…”, “Describe…”, “Think about…”, etc.

Your goal is to include as many positive examples of your previous work in answers to the questions as possible. This means that you need to identify plenty of past achievements in advance and remember enough details about them to answer an initial and a follow-up question.

In practice, many interviewers include a few behavioural questions in a one-to-one or panel interview, so preparing your answers will rarely be wasted. You need to tailor your answers to the specific vacancy you are applying for.

Group Interviews

As the name suggests, in a group interview, a number of candidates are interviewed at the same time. This kind of interview enables the employer to gauge which candidates stand out as leaders, with the ability to persuade others around them. This is particularly useful for certain executive positions.

In practice, the interviewer may ask the group to solve a problem together, or ask an individual candidate to present or discuss a certain issue with the others. There is clearly a high degree of pressure involved with group interviews, with many personalities involved as well as the inevitable stress of the event.

Your goal is to work well with the others, persuading them and ensuring that your communication skills stand out. At the same time, you need to be reading the interviewer’s responses to the same degree as in any other type of interview.

Performance Interviews

If you detest role play situations, then you will not welcome a performance interview, for that is exactly what this involves.

The interviewer gives the candidate a work situation, likely to arise with this vacancy, that the candidate must then respond to, describing their ideas and actions, and role-playing how they would interact with other people involved. This kind of interview might be used for customer-facing roles.

Your goal is to think clearly on your feet, retaining your communication skills despite the pressure of being in an interview.

Screening Interviews

A screening interview is typically a short, preliminary interview that is set up to narrow down a shortlist of candidates. Those who get through will go forward to a full interview.

These interviews may include psychometric tests to quickly weed out unsuitable candidates. The Human Resources department often undertake this role, either in person, via the telephone or computer. These interviews are inflexible and run according to preset criteria. Your goal is simply to represent yourself the best you can.

Telephone Interviews

As mentioned above, the telephone interview is often part of a screening procedure. It may also be conducted by one of the face-to-face interviewers, aiming to get a preliminary sense of what your personality is like, before they meet you. In such a case, you may not be told that this is an interview – even if it seems as if the employer is ringing simply to discuss your application, you must always treat such conversations as interviews.

Your goal is to communicate effectively, even when you are unable to read the interviewer’s visual cues and are unable to project your own body language. Pauses will sound like long silences on the phone, so you will need to keep your wits about you.

Pressure Interviews

This is when the interviewer(s) are deliberately hostile or challenging to the candidate. Negative signals are given via speech and body language that are intended to test the candidates mettle.

Your goal is to remain calm and unperturbed, thinking clearly under immense pressure.

Video Conferencing

This involves video and audio link-ups between remote sites. It is cost effective for international organisations that are located in dispersed sites. Your goal is to respond naturally in a rather artificial interview scenario.

Lunchtime Interviews

More a possibility for higher executive positions or head hunted candidates, this involves a discussion held over lunch with either a head-hunter or a direct superior (to the vacancy). Your goal is to present yourself well in a seemingly social situation, managing your table manners as well as your thoughts and answers.

Although, this is usually positioned as a ‘chat’, you should treat it the same as any other interview, and fully prepare beforehand.

Second Interviews

These are conducted after a number of candidates have been eliminated after the first round of interviews. Second interviews may be longer and more probing.

An employer may be trying to decide between two candidates, or wanting to feel more confident in their decision. A higher level manager may be involved in the second interview.

Your goal is to further establish a bond with the interviewer, digging deeper into your resources to provide compelling answers and examples of your achievements.

Final Thoughts

You should now have an understanding of the different types of interview that you may face, which will help you help in your interview preparation.

If you have any comments or questions about this article, or you’d like to share your views with other readers, please leave a comment below.

Kindest regards,

Paul Bradley.

Bradley CVs Ltd.

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