In this section, we’re looking at the different types of job interviews that you could face during the interview process and what each interviewer is looking to get out of that interview.
During any hiring process, it’s likely you’ll have more than one interview as you meet different people throughout the business. Some companies will take this to the extreme and have upwards of 10 interviews across a few weeks, however, it’s normal to have interviews with HR, the team manager and the business head.
Types of Job Interviews
The interview process typically starts with an internal or external recruiter before moving onto either group interviews where you’ll meet multiple people within the company during one interview or a one-on-one interview with a team member. The final interview is typically with the business head (hiring manager) where the final decision whether to hire you is made.
Along the interview route, it’s not uncommon for companies to throw in a selection of different types of interviews, such as competency interviews or even a social interview.
When you start interviewing at a company, it’s important that you find out what type of interview you’ll be having. This way you can properly prepare for the job interview and tailor your answers to what each interviewer is looking for.
Recruiter Interviews/Phone Interviews
Recruiter or Phone interviews are typically going to be the first contact that you’ll have with a company and can often be a phone call out of the blue. Companies use recruiter or phone interviews to narrow down a long list of potential candidates into a shortlist, which they can interview face-to-face. It’s important that this phone call goes well, otherwise it’s likely that it will be the last conversation you have with that company.
There is likely to be very little small-talk with the focus on direct questions on your experience. In interview, the interviewer is trying to understand if you fit into the team and have the right experience, knowledge, qualifications and salary expectations for the role.
I have written more here about how to pass a telephone interview, however, with any direct questioning, you need to give direct answers in a clear, professional manner. Often your salary requirements will come into conversation, however, I would recommend that you only share your salary history and don’t lock yourself into an expected salary as you never know what the package and/or opportunity includes. If the interviewer doesn’t bring up salary, I would highly recommend that you don’t bring it up at this part of the interview process.
Video Interviews/Skype Interviews
Video interviews (Skype interviews) are becoming more common as they allow hiring managers to see what candidates look like and how they interact during their interview. They are also used when candidates are in a different city or country.
What’s important is that you treat a video interview the same way as you treat any other interview. Over the years I have met with many hiring managers who’ve turned down a candidate simply because they were at home wearing shorts and t-shirts for their job interview.
One-On-One Interviews with A Team Member
This is usually the second step of the hiring process and often the most difficult interview that you will face. Team member interviews are typically conducted by a senior member of the team who wants to know three things; Can you add value to the team, Are you going to fight for their job and finally, will you fit into the current team structure and development.
If you want to be successful, you need to start by building rapport with the interviewer. Make sure that you spend the first ten minutes talking in a friendly manner about subjects outside your day job. This will show that you have the right personality to fit into their team.
Once the interview starts, it’s likely the interviewer will want to discuss your experience in detail, and most importantly, make sure that you have the right knowledge to be successful in the job.
If you need help answering job interview questions, we have completed a massive section on this requirement here, however, if you want one piece of advice – make sure that you answer the question that is being asked, using examples, whilst staying on track.
Hiring Manager Interviews
An interview with the hiring manager or CEO will likely be the final interview in a hiring process. If you get to this stage, you’ve already got the job and it’s for you to lose, not for you to be selected.
Hiring managers are busy people and do not have time to interview a selection of candidates. They will likely only interview the final/chosen candidate for the role.If you want to be successful you need to focus on rapport and asking questions. It’s highly unlikely that a hiring manager interview will be a technical interview where they’re testing your knowledge. Usually, a hiring manager interview will involve a quick run through of your CV and a lot of general conversation about you and your motivations in life, where the hiring manager is really trying to get to know as a person. Typically, hiring manager interviews will finish with you getting an opportunity to ask questions.
Make sure that you ask questions as this shows that you’re interested in the role. If you need help, we have written a few questions to ask at the end of your interview here. Secondly, make sure that you’re professional but friendly in an open manner where you can quickly build a business relationship.
Panel interviews are very different from one-on-one interviews which require you to have a new set of new skills. Generally, panel interviews will take place towards the end of an interview process when a company wants the opinion of more than one person to reduce the chances of a bad hiring.Panel interviews are very common for senior management roles where two or more people will interview you. This type of interview will almost always be a question and answer session where the panel will ask you questions on a range of different subjects based on the panel’s knowledge.
Career Fair Interview
Career fair interviews are very common for graduates seeking their first job. Within the fair, there’s likely to be hundreds of potential hiring managers looking for their next recruits.
It’s important that rather than just dropping your CV on their desk, you try and meet as many recruiters and potential hiring managers as possible. Remember, even if you speak with a hiring manager for 30 minutes, they won’t remember you in a week’s time after meeting with a hundred other potential candidates. They also don’t just hand out their business card to any random person.
If you impress enough to get a business card, you can be sure you’ve got your in the front door. Even if you don’t get the business card, make a note of the recruiter’s name and send them an email the following week. Once you have their name and company, working out their email address is a simple process.
This type of question has been designed to take you out of your comfort zone and away from the general pre-prepared answers. If you read the Top 500 Job Interview Questions, it’s likely that you will have a pre-prepared answer to every job interview question that’s likely to be thrown at you.
This line of questioning cannot be prepared for. Questions could be anything from “What’s your favourite colour and why” to “How many windows are in this building”.
Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. The interviewer could not care less what your favourite colour is, nor know how many windows are in the building. What they want to know is how well you think on your feet and get to a logical answer.
Behavioural Interview/Competency-Based Interview
Typically, this type of interview will take place early in the hiring process and is used to understand how you react to situations based on your past experience. Interviewers will ask questions like, “Give me an example of where you have shown leadership?”.
The objective with any Behavioural Interview/Competency-Based Interview is to create a narrative around an everyday example that shows how you dealt with a specific situation. We have discussed extensively competency-based interviews here, however, if you’re asked a competency-based question, make sure that you use “I” rather than “we” as interviewers will want to know what part of any project you were involved in and not what the group managed to achieve.
The Social Interview/Lunch Interview
Generally, social interviews are not technical interviews but give you a chance to interact on a personal level with members of the team. Hiring managers are looking to make a final check on your personality and fit within the team. Often you will be presented with a contract once the lunch is complete. I would highly recommend that you stay away from drinking too much alcohol as this often brings out the worst in people.
As a recruiter, the only time I have ever had a candidate fail at this stage took place because the candidate got drunk and started behaving in an inappropriate manner.
Very similar to the lunch interview above, The Chat interview is a less formal, less structured job interview where the interviewer is really trying to understand what you’re like as a person.
Questions could be about anything from what you did at the weekend, what your hobbies are, to where you’re going on holiday next.It’s not about impressing the interviewer with your knowledge, rather it’s about getting the hiring manager to like you as a person. Feel free to answer the interview questions openly, however, watch out for getting too personal and letting your guard down. Candidates have failed this type of interview over the years when they’ve let their guard down and reveal something they should not.
What other job interview types have you faced during your job search?