Types of interview and how to prepare

A brilliant CV and cover letter create employment opportunities but they will not secure you a job. The interview is your chance to back up in person everything that the employer has read about you.

This will probably be your first direct contact with the company and will give you an insight into it's workings and the chance to meet with it's personnel to see if it is a place that you would like to work should you be given an offer.

There are several forms of interview with varying degrees of formality, but in essence they consist of a conversation, allowing the employer to get to know you and for you to see what they are like. Whilst interviews can be nerve wracking experiences, it should be remembered that the interviewer is only human and it is possible that they are nervous also. Enter with a confident air, be friendly and open, most importantly don't forget to breathe.

One-on-one interview
To get to this stage you would have succeeded in qualifying the preliminary screening processes. The selection process will have been narrowed down and the company has recognised you as an attractive prospect.

Usually this interview will be carried out by department supervisor, but sometimes with human resources personnel. 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, and think of some questions you want to ask. Do not volunteer information that the interviewer doesn't ask for.

Tips: You want them to want you on their team, therefore you have to impress them with your personality, your qualifications and your career ambition. Dress conservatively to impress and arrive punctually, be chatty with plenty of eye contact. Establish a rapport with the interviewer.

Lunch interview
A interview over lunch will be more casual than in an office, however do not let down your guard. Make your life easier by not ordering messy food and order something that is a similar price range to the others in attendance.

The decision whether to smoke or drink alcohol should be based upon the location and what the interviewer is doing.

Tips: Follow the lead of the interviewer in behaviour, tone and ordering

Screening interview
A brief meeting with the company used by them to weed out unqualified and uninterested candidates. Screening interviews occur if there is a huge number of job applicants, however on the whole candidates are rarely asked to attend them. Interviewers are usually human resource professionals and the format is usually that of straight questions and answers.

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

Telephone interview
Sometimes if a candidate lives a great distance from the offices of the company then it may not be practical to attend preliminary interviews in person. In this case an interview can be conducted on the telephone. Alternatively some companies use telephone interviews as a screening process to eliminate the weaker candidates early on.

A telephone interview is not to be treated as an easier option, it should be conducted in an equally professional manner as a standard interview and the same rules apply. The only difference is that your body language no longer applies.

Do not let the interviewer totally lead the conversation, if it is appropriate push for a face to face meeting saying something like "I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in person so we can both better evaluate each other. I am free either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. Which would be better for you?"

How to behave: Speak in a clear 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 an assembled audience of candidates. As this form of interview is not one-on-one there is not so much pressure on an individual candidate, however the aim is to stand out from the crowd and be noticed.

Tips: Ask questions speak to company personnel afterwards to establish a brief rapport.

Committee/Panel interview
Companies use this method when hiring for advanced positions or if they are just feeling nasty. During committee interviews candidates are questioned by several company personnel at once, this can be daunting but try to keep cool. Be sure to impress all of the interviewers, do not cater to just what one or two want to hear.

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

Deliberate attempts to unnerve you
Interviewers may try to test your nerve to see how you handle yourself under pressure. The interview may start out in a relaxed fashion with standard questions being posed, then the interviewer may change tack to launch into a hostile assault, for example "So you failed your A-levels, what makes you think you can handle the pace at our company?" You should be prepared for this and when it comes don't take it personally. Calmly answer each question as it comes.

General preparation before any interview

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