Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Types of Job Interviews and How to Handle Them

The way in which candidates are interviewed has changed. You are just as likely to be interviewed over a cappuccino or Caesar salad as you are to be video-interviewed by an interviewer who happens to be working in China this week. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the different types of job interviews so you can be prepared no matter what comes your way.

Panel interview

When more than one interviewer conducts the interview it is referred to as a panel interview. The interview panel could be made up of any number of key persons including supervisors, managers, team members, board members, HR staff or an external consultant. The number of interviewers will depend on the organisation and the role but typically a panel interview is made up of 3-4 people.
  • Ask who will be on the panel before your interview so you can learn about them. Knowing who is on the panel can give you an idea about what they will be looking for and can help you anticipate the kinds of questions they will ask.
  • Greet all panel members as you enter, shaking each of their hands if appropriate.
  • Maintain eye contact with all panel members as you answer questions, even those who haven’t asked the question.
  • Thank all panel members at the conclusion of the interview, take business cards if offered and follow up with a thank-you email.
Video interview
A video interview using a computer and web camera technology can be used when an applicant is geographically distant from the interviewer/s. This kind of interview is usually conducted from the interviewer’s office with you at home using your own computer and web camera.  It can also be used if a key interviewer is located in another office, enabling them to interview you at a distance or to participate in a panel interview remotely.
  • If interviewing from home using your own equipment, be sure to download any necessary software and test everything well before the scheduled video interview.
  • Close down all unnecessary programs to optimise your computers download capabilities.
  • If you are using a common program such as Skype or Messenger, change your status to ‘busy’ or ‘do not disturb’ so you won’t be interrupted or disturbed by others trying to contact you.
  • Make sure the area you will be interviewing is free from any background noise. Close all doors and windows, switching off/unplugging telephones, arranging childcare if you have children, silence any alarms/clocks that might make noise during the video interview.
  • Have a pen and paper handy to take notes.
  • Get yourself a glass of water in case you need it during the video interview.
  • Be ready at least ten minutes before the scheduled time.

Telephone interview
A telephone interview might be used to initially screen candidates before being invited to a formal interview. Telephone interviews are also used when a candidate is geographically distance from the interviewer/s. It can involve more than one interviewer by using speakerphone or call conferencing. 
  • Use a land-line telephone over a mobile since the connection and call quality are likely to be better. 
  • If your telephone is battery powered, make sure it is fully charged ahead of time. 
  • Prepare a quite space to conduct the call by closing windows and doors, switching. off/unplugging other telephones, arranging childcare if you have children, silencing any alarms/clocks that might interfere with the call. 
  • Have a pen and paper handy to take notes. 
  • Have a glass of water at the ready in case you need it during the call but be aware that although the caller on the end of the line can’t see you they can hear you. 
  • If you are receive a call from an employer or recruiter only answer the phone call if you are in a quiet, appropriate location (do not answer your mobile telephone in the bathroom, at a childcare centre or in a busy shopping centre environment). It’s best to get the message from your telephone’s message centre and call back rather than risk looking unprofessional. 
  • Be ready at least ten minutes before the scheduled call.

Group interview
A group interview is often used by employers and recruiters when they have more than one position to fill and enables them to interview and assess large numbers of applicants at once. A group interview is likely to consist of a number of stages including an information session, assessment and one to one interview. After a group interview applicants might be invited to attend a second interview.

  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early to demonstrate you are keen and reliable. 
  • Sit closer to the front and middle of the room rather than at the back. 
  • Don’t be intimidated, be your confident, capable self allowing your personality to shine. 
  • Be careful not to be too social with the other candidates, remember it’s an interview not a social gathering. 
  • Listen carefully to instructions so you don’t have to ask for clarification. 
  • If you are asked to complete any forms or assessments, take time to read everything before you begin writing anything. It’s very easy in a group interview to feel you need to competitively race through tasks to stand out from the crowd. Take your time. If you rush and don’t complete tasks properly, you will stand out but not in the right way.
Social interview
Social interviews can take the form of a lunch or dinner meeting where a seemingly less formal interview is conducted by one or more interviewers. A social interview might also take place at a coffee shop or other public venue. This can be a double edged sword, depending on the level of structure and the interviewer’s strategy. A common fear of interviewees is falling into the trap of becoming too relaxed during a social interview.
  • Visit the venue beforehand to familiarise yourself with the environment and menu. 
  • Order something easy to eat/drink and never order anything larger/more expensive than your interviewer/s. 
  • Avoid ordering alcohol. It might make you feel relaxed but your interview performance will suffer. 
  • Make sure you turn off your mobile telephone beforehand. 
  • Take care not to let the casual atmosphere affect your behaviour, remain business like at all times.
Have you been interviewed differently? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, BSocSc(Couns), DipCareerGuid,  MICG is a Career Counsellor/Career Coach at CareerWorx 

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