When it comes to job interviews, amongst all the usual confusion is the question, ‘what types of job interviews are there?’ Today we’re going to look at those various different formats and help you prepare for each particular one.
Remember: The interview type will often not be signposted beforehand, so you may have to do a bit of googling as part of your prep; look up the company and industry to find clues about what interview types you can reasonably expect.
Before we go into detail about the interview types, you should also think about using an interview coach. They will help you prepare for absolutely anything those nasty recruiters might throw at you! You should also try to align your desire to get the job with the needs of the company. What does this mean? It means you should try and excite yourself about achieving success for the organisation, and working out how you will do that. Again, an interview coach can really help with this.
Remember that there are no ‘easy’ interview types. They’re all about eliminating people from the recruitment process, so you have to say the right thing to ensure that doesn’t happen to you. OK, with that out the way, let’s crack on with looking at the various interview types.
The Telephone Interview
The telephone interview is usually a screening call to determine if it’s worth inviting you to a proper interview. The person on the other end is usually from HR and is just ticking boxes and writing down simple facts. This means you should give nice, straightforward answers to each question. Don’t lie, but do give the positive version of any uncertainty. For example, if you have three and a half years’ experience in customer service, say you have four.
The difficulty with these interviews is that you never really know when they might happen. If you think you might get a phone interview, be ready for it even before you make your application; they may call you within minutes. You might even get one straight off the back of your LinkedIn profile, so always be prepared for this.
The Behavioural Interview
This is probably what most people think of as the ‘normal’ interview type. Here they will ask questions about things you’ve done in the past. Without going into too much detail here, a really good approach is to identify times in the past in which you’ve done impressive things, and then structure these stories according to ’S.T.A.R.’ This is where you describe the Situation, your Task, the Action you took and the Result.
When you’re thinking about particular accomplishments, you really do need to be referring to the job description, to make sure they’re relevant. If you’re going for a sales position and you once won Salesperson of the Month, that’s great; that time you managed to do a bar crawl covering every pub in your town is best shared with your friends.
The trick with behavioural interviews is to very clearly translate your past achievements into likely successes in your new role. How would you repeat these accomplishments? Could you even top them?
The Case Interview
This interview type is, on the face of it, the most challenging, because the questions appear to be more difficult. As I mentioned above, though, all interviews are hard; it’s not the questions you’re competing with, it’s the other candidates!
Case interviews tend to have a fairly limited range of questions so, while preparing for them is essential, is also not that difficult. You should also make sure your mental arithmetic is up-to-scratch; practise dealing with percentages and fractions, and run through your times tables at the very least! You’re normally going to be asked to solve a real-world business problem, such as considering the financial case for the acquisition of a competitor.
The Group Interview
These are just horrendous cringe-fests and whoever came up with them should be shot. Sorry about that; normal service will be resumed shortly.
Now I’ve got that off my chest, let’s look at how these interviews work. In group interviews, the interviewees are asked to answer questions in front of each other and participate in any number of humiliating exercises. Normally held in the name of efficiency, group interviews also show how well you work with others, so remember to bring your social skills with you. That means listening, letting others shine and co-operating.
There is always one guy at these things (and it is always a man) who takes it upon himself to be the ‘leader’. He tries to crack jokes and organise everyone in a really positive way. He makes everyone else die a little inside and doesn’t come out of this well. Do not be him.
The Date Interview
This is a weird type of interview that is also high in cringe. This is where you meet your interviewers for dinner or lunch. It is most likely to take the ‘unstructured’ form (see below). It is not impossible to plan for but it does take deeper thought. Order something easy to eat and don’t drink too much.
The Unstructured Interview
There is only so much planning you can do for this freeform type of interview, but plan you must. You don’t know what questions you’ll be asked and the format is more conversational than anything else. A lot of my clients are being interviewed in this way, so you need to know how to manage these.
The key to mastering this interview is to answer this question to yourself: ‘How am I going to add enormous value to this company? Think about how you have done it in your present and previous roles; research the organisation to familiarise yourself with their pain points. Look at their strategy. How are you going to further this company’s objectives in ways that nobody else can? If you can internalise great answers to these questions, you stand to do very well.
Why not connect with me on LinkedIn for more info and advice?
Also, be sure to check out my Top Ten Interview tips as well.