Types of interviews

There are several different types of interviews:

  • Telephone – Some employers use an initial telephone interview to screen candidates. Successful applicants are usually then invited to a face-to-face interview or an assessment centre. Telephone interviews usually last for around 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Video – An alternative to the traditional telephone interview and typically used to screen candidates. However for roles located abroad a video interview can have the same remit as a face-to-face interview.
  • Face-to-face – The most common type of interview, face-to-face encounters can take place with either one interviewer or, more commonly, a panel. In some rare cases, you may be interviewed alongside other candidates and questioning can either be strength or competency based.
  • Assessment centres – Used primarily by large graduate employers to compare the performance of several candidates in a range of situations, assessment centres typically involve tasks such as presentations, group work, written tests and in-tray exercise.

Preparing for interviews

Regardless of the type of interview your preparing for, doing plenty of research and planning is key. Generally, you should:

  • Consider how you will explain problematic aspects of your career, such as gaps in your work history.
  • Identify the skills, interests and experiences that the organisation is looking for by looking at its website and social media channels.
  • Plan your journey in advance, aiming to arrive ten minutes before your interview is scheduled.
  • Prepare answers to common interview questions, as well as your own questions to ask at the interview.
  • Found out about people who will interview you.
  • Research the issues, trends and opportunities affecting the organisation and the wider job sector.
  • On the night before the interview, avoid alcohol, prepare your outfit and get plenty of sleep.

Be methodological

Sit down with your CV and make notes, just as if you were preparing for an exam. Study your work record and what you have achieved. How do you see yourself? What have you done? What ambitions do you have? Make notes and prepare and rehearse sound bites about yourself. Do this out loud, even if it feels a bit weird.

Try to relate specific areas of your CV back to the job description. It will make it clear to the interviewer why they should hire you.

Remember, one of the most common interview questions is “Tell me about yourself”. Prepare a balanced and succinct answer to this question, not a life history. Keep it business-like and don’t stray into personal feelings or family relationships. Avoid anything to do with politics or religion. Interviewers use this question to learn about your personal qualities, not your achievements – they should already have those from your CV.

What to take

The organisation may ask you to bring some documents with you, these can typically include your photo id, right to work documents (passport or visa), driving license, academic certificates, etc.

In addition to the above, you should take a pen and notepad to the interview, a bottle of water, copy of your CV, interview invitation, etc.

What to wear to an interview

The typical interview dress code is usually fairly straightforward for men: a dark suit and tie combination is the safest option. However, things are slightly more open for women. You could wear a dress, trouser suit, or a skirt and blouse; black, navy or brown are the safest colours.