In the past, a job interview would probably consist of one person speaking to the candidate. However, these days, there are a number of different types of interview you might need to prepare yourself for.
If your application pack doesn’t tell you what type of interview to expect, it’s a good idea to contact the company or organisation. Ask them what type of interview it’ll be and then you can start preparing yourself.
This article gives a brief description of all the most common types of interview and tells you a little about what to expect from each.
This type of interview is becoming less and less common. However, in small organisations where there aren’t many employees, it might be more practical for you to be interviewed by just one person.
The panel interview is quite common. Normally two or three people will sit facing you and ask questions in turn. Try not to worry about whom to look at when you are speaking; if you look at the person who has asked the question, you won’t go wrong.
Sometimes, in a panel interview, each interviewer will have a different role. One might be asking more challenging questions and appearing to be more stern than the others. This will often be a ploy to test how well you cope when in a challenging situation. Treat each interviewer equally and try to stay relaxed.
Group interviews are less common. In this case, you would be interviewed at the same time as a few other candidates. A panel of interviewers will ask you questions in turn. The important things to remember are not to interrupt other candidates when they are answering and to listen at all times.
An interviewer might ask another candidate a question and then turn to you and say “What do you think?” If you have been listening, you can use the other candidate’s answer to build up your own, eg, by saying something like “I agree with X, but I think…”.
Some organisations use a method called the assessment centre approach to select suitable people. This is quite normal for trainee management positions or other senior roles. However, this method of selection is being used more and more with all types of job vacancy.
It could involve you spending a day (or even two days at a residential centre) doing things like written tests, taking part in group activities with other candidates and being interviewed.
Some assessment centres will involve you giving a short prepared presentation. As part of the day(s), you might have to answer questions as part of a psychometric test.
Psychometric tests are used by some organisations, either at the application stage or at the interview stage. A psychometric test is a special kind of multiple choice-type form. After you have completed the form, it is analysed to assess your personal qualities.
Psychometric test questions generally follow certain types. You might face a simple maths problem like the one below:
In your company’s car park, 15% of the cars are silver. There are 300 cars in the car park, how many are silver?
In other sections of the test, you may have to fill in missing words in a sentence or choose the correct sentence from a list of four or five. Each part of the test is designed to measure your ability in a certain area, and to help the employer find out whether you will be up to doing the job you’ve applied for.
Knowing what type of interview you’ll be facing and preparing well for it is crucial to your chances of securing the job you’ve applied for. Even simple one-to-one interviews require preparation, but for the more involved interviews, ie, those using assessment centres and/or psychometric tests, it’s a good idea to read around those subjects further to give yourself a clearer idea of what to expect.