Types of interview and how to prepare

Here are the different kinds of interview you could be asked to go to, and tips on how to prepare for them


Young man in interview

Your first interview is usually your first direct contact with a company

It's your chance to back up in person everything that the employer has read about you, and will give you an insight into the organisation's workings to see if it is a place you'd like to work.

Interviews are a question and answer-based conversation, allowing you and the employer to get to know each other. While interviews can be nerve wracking experiences, remember the interviewer is only human and it is possible that they are nervous also. Enter with a confident air, be friendly and open, and most importantly, don't forget to breathe.

One-on-one interview

Usually this interview will be carried out by department supervisor, but sometimes with someone in HR. Be prepared to talk about yourself in detail, why you want the job, and what you can contribute to the company.

In advance of the interview, carry out research into what the company do, so you know how to relate your answers to the sorts of things they'll be looking for, and so you can think of some questions you want to ask.

Dress conservatively to impress and arrive punctually. Show your confidence by being chatty and making eye contact. Try to establish a rapport with the interviewer.

Lunch interview

An interview over lunch will tend to be more casual than in an office; but don't let down your guard. Make your life easier by not ordering messy food and order something that is a similar price range to the interviewer(s).

Screening interview

This is usually a brief meeting with the company, which they use to weed out unqualified and uninterested candidates. Screening interviews may occur if there is a large number of job applicants. Interviewers are usually human resource professionals and the format is usually that of straight questions and answers.

Confirm to the interviewer what they have already read in your CV, and do not deviate from the truth. Providing facts is more important than building a rapport.

Telephone interview

Sometimes if a candidate lives quite far from the company location, it may not be practical to attend preliminary interviews in person. 

In this case, they may suggest a telephone interview.

A telephone interview should not be treated as an easier option: you should be as professional as you would be in a face-to-face interview.

Do not let the interviewer totally lead the conversation, and try to avoid long pauses other than when you're thinking of an answer to a question. If appropriate, aim to organise a face-to-face meeting by saying something like "I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in person to talk more about my suitability for the role."

Speak in a clear, calm voice, answer the interviewers questions precisely and try to elaborate without talking too much; exude controlled professionalism.

Group interview

Often group interviews are used to introduce the company and describe the job to a several candidates at the same time. As this form of interview is not one-on-one, there isn't as much pressure on individual candidates.

The aim will be to stand out from the crowd and be noticed; it's likely you will be asked to take part in some small group activities. Hopefully you will be remembered if you manage to stand out, and invited back for a full interview.

Find out about the company in advance so you can ask relevant questions. In group activities, try to demonstrate both leadership and understanding. Speak to company personnel afterwards in an attempt to establish a brief rapport.

Panel interview

Companies often use this interview style when hiring for advanced positions, or if they want to compare notes on a candidate's performance. During panel interviews, candidates are questioned by several company personnel at once. This can be daunting, but try to keep cool.

Attempt to impress all of the interviewers alike by giving them equal attention, and do not cater to just what one or two of them want to hear.

When an interviewer addresses you with a question, respond to the person that asked that question, while still being conscious of how the others will interpret what you are saying.

General preparation before any interview

  • Carry out research into the company; know the products or services, size, income, reputation, goals, history, competitors and values.
  • Study any recent press mentions and news articles about the company, and try to slip your up-to-date knowledge into conversation.
  • Go over the job description and specification again to help you decide which relevant skills and experience you will mention.
  • You may like to practise your responses to some of the more common interview questions, and prepare a list yourself of questions that you want to ask.
  • Prepare what you need for your interview before the day arrives; you will need to take a couple of copies of your CV, relevant certificates, a reference list, and if possible some examples of work you have done in the past.
  • Dress presentably and professionally.
  • Aim to arrive at least 10 minutes early

More useful links

Go to TSR's Summer hub for more articles on work experience and fun activites for the long break.

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