Congratulations! You have been called for an interview. What happens next? The key to doing a good interview is preparation, preparation, preparation. The purpose of an interview is twofold. It is for the prospective employer to meet you, and see if you are a good fit for the job. It is also a chance for you to meet them, evaluate the company and see if you fit in it. You should prepare as much as you can, from practicing interview questions to planning on what to wear. How you go about your preparation will depend on what kind of interview you will have. A phone interview for instance does not require you to dress up but nevertheless you need to be thoroughly prepared.
The most common types of Interviews
There are several types of interviews and it is important to get acquainted with what they entail as this will help you do well. Your interviewer will obviously indicate what kind of interview you will have, and if not, make sure to call and find out as this will aid in your preparation. These are the most common types of interviews:
This kind of interview pits you against only one interviewer. Because there are only the two of you, it may get slightly informal and could give you a reason to relax. But don’t forget, you are still interviewing! The interviewer might have a set of prepared questions and may also make up questions as you move along.
- The key to succeeding in this kind of an interview is to establish a connection or create a relationship with the interviewer. This will be advantageous for you in advanced stages of interviewing.
- As with any other interview, be confident and keep eye contact.
A group interview is one where several candidates are interviewed at the same time. The number of candidates could be five, ten, twenty or so, but in some cases if the group is large it is likely that you will be split into smaller groups. The interviewer (s) may introduce a topic for discussion, aiming at hearing different contributions from the candidates. You may also be given a problem to solve as a team, and asked to report your findings. The interviewers may also ask direct questions while weighing each candidate’s response. They will be looking at how you respond under pressure, how you interact with other people and most importantly your communication skills. The interviewers will also be looking for confidence, team work and general attitude. In any of the situations above:
- Be respectful to other candidates throughout the exercise
- Do not speak too much to seem dominant or too little to seem shy
- Be active and when asked individual questions ; answer clearly and confidently
- Volunteer for any activities if requested; it doesn’t hurt to stand out for the right reasons
A panel interview is where you will be interviewed by a group of people. These may include different people in the organization such as the Human Resources manager, a department manager, your potential supervisor etc. The number of panelists will commonly vary from anywhere between two to four. It is likely that one or two of the panelists will be specialists in the job at hand. To do well in this kind of interview:
- Maintain eye contact with the person questioning you and make eye contact with every interviewer when answering, and not only at the person who asked the question
- Some questions will be follow ups from the previous question, do not be afraid of repeating some details in order to make yourself understood
- It is important that you go in there armed with some information about the panelists (you can check on the company website) as this may come in handy. You could mention being inspired by a book written by one of the panelists for example, at the appropriate time.
A phone interview may be conducted under different circumstances. It could be that the hiring company wants to screen the interviewees for short listing. It could also be a distance factor, such as when a candidate applies for an overseas job, or even in the same countries but different cities. It could be a time constraint factor or even a cost issue. All in all, it is important to be as prepared as you can.
- The most important thing in a phone interview is how you sound. Do you sound distracted and bored? Or confident and excited? Is your voice clear? It is better to practice with a friend before hand as this will help you to know how you sound.
- Have your resume with you as you interview. Know its contents well to be able to answer a question or refer to a point at a moments notice.
- Prepare to be in a quiet place that is free from interruptions, noise and other disruptions
- Make sure your phone is charged (in case of a cell phone), you do not want the battery dying in the middle of your interview
- Allow for enough time, incase the interview lasts longer than scheduled
An audition interview is where you are expected to do an exercise or task to show your skills practically. This is more common for artistic kinds of jobs such as dancing, acting, drawing, computer programming, design etc. You will most probably be expected to take a portfolio of your work, and may get a fresh assignment during the interview. This kind of interview is advantageous in that it will give you a chance to show what you can really do practically, unlike the rest where you have to use only words. To do well in this interview:
- Be prepared. Brush up your skills and try different kinds of tasks before the interview
- When given the task, make sure you understand perfectly what is expected of you. If not, confirm before starting. It will not look good if you make a mistake because you did not understand the instructions
- Act professionally and approach the task with enthusiasm.
- Do not be too hurried or too slow. Try to finish the task within the given time.
Follow up interviews
A follow up interview means that you did something right the first time! Unfortunately, it is still not a guarantee for getting the job so you still need to be prepared, perhaps even more than before. You may be called back for a second (or even third) interview for several reasons: – The interviewers liked you, and they want to confirm that you are what they are looking for – They may be having a difficult time choosing between a few really good candidates – They may want a more senior person in the company to meet you, such as the CEO in some cases, or any other person is involved in decision making Whatever the reason for your call back, you must be well prepared and ready to do your best.
- If you are meeting the same interviewer, you have already talked about your skills so concentrate on showing how you fit in the company and what you can do for them. Aim to understand more about the company and what would be expected of you.
- If you are meeting a brand new person, highlight your skills and do not worry about repeating the same things you said before
- You could find yourself being asked about compensation so this time you should really be prepared to talk about it