When a recruiter or other hiring influencer schedules an interview for you, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask what type of interview it is. In order to prepare, you’ll need to know if you’ll be competing directly with other candidates, facing a group of interviewers, or answering a few questions over the phone. Each interview type demands a different kind of practice or planning to make your best impression.
- Phone interview. This kind of interview is used to pre-screen you for skills, including your communication skills, and to determine if you’re a good fit for the team, position, or organization.
- One-on-one interview. One hiring influencer asking questions of one candidate. This can be a single interview or one of a series of interviews where you are speaking to a group of decision-makers one at a time. This is the most personal, and often the most significant kind of interview. Final interviews are almost always one-on-one.
- Panel interview. One candidate being interviewed by a group of hiring influencers who take turns asking questions. This is a great way for companies to judge how you’ll get along with a close-knit team, an efficient way to include all hiring influencers in one meeting, and a great chance to show off your communication skills.
- Group interview. A group of candidates being interviewed by one or two interviewers. This is a way to see how candidates interact with a group, who has leadership potential, who doesn’t play well with others, and a host of other items on a screening checklist.
It’s worth noting that some Career Coaches will list a fifth, the behavioural interview. This is based on behavioural interview questions about what you have done in certain situations at work in the past. They’re used to gauge how well you learn from experience, how well you adapt to new or difficult situations, and how you’ll fit into the organization’s corporate culture. These questions have become a part of modern interviews, so you’ll experience them in any of the above interview types as standard questions.
The best way to prepare for these is to search online for lists of common behavioural interview questions and pull a few experiences from memory that can be used to answer many of these questions. Difficult interactions with customers or colleagues are often times when we feel we have failed. There’s often a lesson we have learned from those times, and of course we’ve behaved differently on subsequent occasions! Three or four examples, considered and practiced in advance, are enough to see you through even an extensive interview. Practice also engenders confidence, too!