Types of interviews
Most organisations will short-list a number of candidates for an initial interview. This may be followed up by a second interview and/or a series of tests.
The nature of the organisation, the level of the position, and the interviewer’s individual preferences will determine the type of interview. An employer may use one method or a combination of methods to select candidates. Try to find out the most likely process to be used by and be prepared.
The following examples are types of interview that may be used:
- One-on-one interviews
This type of interview may be taken by your potential line manager or head of department. It may be taken in a relaxed manner, or it may be more formal. Either way the interviewer is still assessing what you have to offer and whether you will fit into the organisation.
- Two-on-one interviews
This type of interview involves being questioned by two people. They will have prepared questions and will discuss their notes with one another at the end. This approach is more objective than the one-on-one interview as it takes two people's opinions into account. Occasionally you may encounter the "good cop, bad cop" scenario. This is when one interviewer asks you soft, gentle questions while the other one may be aggressive and challenging. Remember, the good cop is not necessarily your friend and the bad cop may not be your enemy. Stay calm and be consistent in the way you answer the questions.
- Behavioural interviews
The behavioural interview is based on the theory that past performance is the best predictor of future behaviour. Questions will be designed to probe specific past behaviour. Expect interviewers to have follow up questions that explore the finer details of a given situation or experience. You will need to be well prepared for this type of interview, particularly if you do not have relevant work experience that demonstrates past performance. For help when preparing for a behavioural interview see our example interview questions.
- Telephone interviews
Telephone interviews and screening are occasionally used when organisations are recruiting from a wide geographical area. Take this conversation seriously; use notes and prepare as you would for a face-to-face interview. Try to be succinct with your answers; listen carefully; speak professionally and clearly into the voice piece, and give a brief summary of what you have to offer.
- Informal interviews
An employer may invite you in for an informal chat or interview. Be aware that no matter how informal the situation might be, you are still being assessed. The interviewer may ask questions that are designed to put you at ease so you will reveal more about yourself. Make sure you stay focused and take a pro-active approach in the interview.
- Panel interviews
This method is commonly used by large educational institutions, the public service and government funded organisations. It usually involves about four panel members, but be prepared for more. There will usually be an independent person from another part of the company involved. This is to give an external perspective on who would be the best person for the position. Typically, the panel will take in turns to ask questions and take notes to discuss after the interview. You will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end. Try to involve the whole panel when you answer questions; make good eye contact and listen carefully.
- Stress interviews
These are usually designed to find out how you cope under pressure. The interviewer may be sarcastic, argumentative or challenging. Remember, do not take this approach personally; keep calm and answer each question with confidence. Don’t rush into an answer; ask for clarification if you need it; stay positive and calm.