Job interview types
Different types of interviews
There are many different types of interviews but they are all designed to help an employer decide which candidate is best for their business – based on the candidate’s skills, experience and how they will fit with the company’s culture and work models.
Telephone interviews may be used to decide which candidates go on a shortlist. They are also commonly used by recruitment and labour hire companies. Usually, the interviewer will call you at an appointed time and then ask you a series of questions to help them assess your suitability. The main difference between a one-to-one and a telephone interview is that you and the interviewer cannot see one another, which means nearly all non-verbal communication is lost.
A few tips for telephone interviews:
- Find a location that’s quiet with no distractions and where you won’t be interrupted.
- Have copies of your resume, cover letter and the job description to hand.
- Make sure your phone battery has plenty of charge.
- Because you can’t see the interviewer it’s more difficult to judge their reaction to your responses. You can try to check that you’re on-track by asking questions like “would you like me to go into more detail?” or “is there anything else you’d like to know about that role/event/experience?”
- The interviewer can’t see your body language either, so you need to make sure that your words and voice convey your personality and enthusiasm.
Group interviews are often used by companies who are conducting bulk recruitment drives. Often you will have to complete a range of group activities which are designed to assess your soft skills, such as teamwork and communication, as well as your ability to do the job. Group size and the activities involved will vary. If you want more information, you can ask the employer beforehand. Don’t panic if they aren’t giving much away – remember all the other candidates will be in the same boat.
A few tips for group interviews:
- The important thing is to find a balance. You want to demonstrate that you have lots to contribute to the group, without being bossy or domineering.
- If you’re naturally quiet, make a real effort to participate in discussions and give answers.
- If you’re very talkative or tend to take the lead, try to channel this into facilitating discussion, encouraging quieter candidates to get involved, and praising others for good ideas.
- Find one or two ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd so that interviewers remember you. For example, before everyone introduces themselves at the beginning of the session, try to think of something memorable or different to say about yourself.
Panel interviews involve being interviewed by a few different people at the same time. This kind of interview is common for roles in larger companies and in government, particularly for managerial positions. Panel interviews can sometimes feel especially nerve-wracking, but just try to treat them like a normal interview. A few tips for panel interviews:
- Remember to address your response to the person who asked you the question, but try not to ignore the rest of the panel – move your attention and make eye contact with everyone.
- It can be useful to find out who’s on the panel beforehand, especially their positions in the company, so you can anticipate the kind of information they might want.
Assessment centre interviews
Assessment centre interviews are usually undertaken with a group of other candidates. They may last from half-a-day to a few days and require you to participate in a range of tests and tasks. Usually, informal observation will also take place during social periods, such as at lunch or during dinner.
A few tips for assessment centre interviews:
- If you’re taking personality assessment (psychometric) tests, try to avoid second-guessing and thinking about which is the “right” answer/response – just be as honestas possible.
- When taking ability tests, i.e. verbal or numeric reasoning, keep an eye on the time – try not to rush, but try not to spend too long on any one question.
- If you can, find out what abilities will be tested beforehand and try some practice tests (many are available online or in print) so you know what to expect. Plus, if there are any areas where you’re a little rusty, you can spend some extra time revisiting those.
- Try to focus on your own performance rather than worrying about what other candidates are doing.
One-on-one interviews are usually conducted by a manager or an HR representative and will include a series of questions designed to help them assess your suitability for the role. As you’re one-on-one, this kind of interview provides you with a real opportunity to build rapport with the interviewer.
A few tips for one-on-one interviews:
- Try to build a connection with the interviewer by finding the balance between being friendly and professional.
- Make eye contact.
- Respond to their non-verbal cues and try to match your body language to theirs if you can do so comfortably and without being too obvious, i.e. adopt a similar sitting position, if they use their hands a lot while talking, try and use your hands too.