The first thing to think about is there are several different types of interview:
- Telephone – This is normally an initial employer call that eliminates candidates based on essential criteria. Successful applicants are usually invited to the one-to-one stage.
- Video – Whether through Skype, FaceTime or YouTube, this type of interview is increasingly popular for graduate roles in sales. They’re usually held during the initial screening process and have taken the telephone interview a step further by seeing how a candidate presents himself at an early stage in the process.
- One-to-one – This is a face-to-face encounter with one interviewer, usually after the initial telephone or video interview this is a step further in getting to know you more. They’re usually formal, but can also take place over a coffee depending on the approach of the recruiter. You could also be interviewed by different people at different times either from members of the same work team or managers from different levels of the hierarchy.
- Panel – Similar to the one-to-one interviews, except two or more people – will be assessing you at the same time. This approach can put you under more pressure as the questions can be more constant as different people fire questions at you.
- Group – Multiple candidates are interviewed together. They’re asked questions in turn, or discuss certain topics. This approach can be used to see how you stand out against others and if you are willing to work as part of a team dynamic.
- Assessment centres – These involve tasks including presentations, written tests and group role-play. They’re used to assess a candidate’s performance in a range of situations, and normally last a full day. You’ll appear alongside several other candidates and put in a series of situations to see how you undergo working with others and using your initiative.
Feel free to contact the recruiter if you’re unsure who will be interviewing you, what form your interview will take or what tasks you’ll be given. Don’t be put off if the interviewer seems a little distant or cagey as he or she may be doing this on purpose to see how you handle the pressure when not having time beforehand to understand and prepare for it.
Phone interviews in more detail
These are usually used for cost-efficient preliminary screening before the first one-to-one interview. They’re often recorded and vary in length, but are normally fairly quick averaging around 15-30 mins. You should fully prepare for a phone interview just as you would for a regular interview and generally should:
- find a quiet place for the interview where you’ll be undisturbed;
- fully charge your mobile before the interview, and turn call waiting off;
- get your main messages across quickly, by writing down your key attributes and having these at hand during the call;
- have a glass of water available;
- have a pen and notepad within reach;
- have internet access;
- keep your CV, application and job description in clear view;
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer;
- Don’t chew gum or eat;
- smile, as this projects a positive image and changes your tone of voice;
- speak slowly and clearly;
- take time to collect your thoughts;
- Remember, you can’t be seen so ensure you have all resources around that you need from prompts to noted answers and more in-depth responses to your CV experience that you will get asked about.
Video interviews are also increasingly common, especially if you’re applying for overseas jobs. Remember to dress as you would for a face-to-face interview, and check your background before the interview begins. Finally, ensure that your body language is positive; look directly into the camera and make eye contact, as this’ll make you appear calm and confident.
Second interviews in more detail
A second interview means that you’ve made it through the initial screening and the interviewer is now looking to go more in depth with you about your experience and motivation, your value to the organisation; your fit in the role, existing team and organisation; what separates you from other candidates; and what you can do for them. Generally, you should:
- ask the company for any feedback beforehand, reviewing your performance from the first interview by noting and addressing any questions or situations that caused you difficulty;
- find out as much as possible about the organisation’s challenges, priorities, markets and competitors, taking the time to research the company in even more detail since you last researched them for the first interview;
- find out what the agenda will be and whom you’ll interview with;
- find ways to demonstrate enthusiasm for the organisation’s goals that ties in with your own motivation and previous experiences;
- give answers that are consistent with what the recruiter has previously heard as they worked before for you so you do not want to be changing the goalposts;
- prepare examples of how your achievements can apply to you moving forward with the company;
- If possible talk with industry insiders and ensure that you’re up to date with recent developments by reviewing trade publications and doing further searches online.