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How to guide: succeeding at different types of interview
So you’ve sent your perfect CV and cover letter and you’ve been told you have an interview – great news! You discover it’s not a style of interview you’ve done before – don’t panic. We’ve created a handy guide to help you through interview styles you may not be familiar with from videos to on the telephone as well as panel and group assessment.
Whilst it’s important to remember the basics for any interview, including a one-to-one, like smart dress and eye contact as well as extensive knowledge about the company and role you’re applying for – there are some specific tips for differing styles:
Telephone interviews are an effective shortlisting tool for employers and recruiters. If you’ve been given a pre-arranged phone call time:
- Make sure you’re ready by preparing as much as you would for an office based interview. Research the company.
- Have your application and any questions (as well as a note pad for any key points you may need to remember during the call) all to hand.
- Real turn offs for phone interviewers are background noises, eating or drinking and having the candidate sound too casual – so sit up at a desk in a quiet room and make sure not to slip into chatty styles of conversation just because you’re on the phone.
Helen Menhenett, head of research at Fairplace, recommends you should “Smile when you talk on the telephone. You'll be more relaxed, you'll sound more confident and assertive.”
They key to video interviews is to make sure you’re familiar with the technology you’ll be using:
- If it’s using a program like Skype or Google Hangout make sure your username and profile picture are professional.
- Sit with a blank wall behind you and good lighting – nobody wants to see piles of washing up in the background as you list your organisational skills!
- Look into the webcam to make direct eye contact.
“A real-time Skype call may sound a friendly proposition but treating any video interview like Skyping your mates would be a mistake.” notes Chris Krabbé, a fellow of the CIPD.
Group interviews or group activity days may seem like a daunting prospect, but they’re actually a very easy way to prove your capability to work well in a team which can be difficult in a one-to-one interview.
- Arrive early and whilst others in your group are competing for the same post, employers may be filling multiple positions so it’s worth being friendly before the interview starts as you may end up a colleague of one of your group peers.
- Make sure you answer a question first at least once or twice – the most important thing is not to come across as bossy or dominating the responses.
- Group activities are about assessing how you reach a conclusion and work things out as part of a team as well as your influence and communication skills so bear all this in mind when attending a group interview session.
Elizabeth Magill, recruitment blogger and advisor says “It’s true that many people find the group interview to be highly intimidating. That doesn’t have to be the case though. The challenge lies in shifting your mind-set from one of dreading the group interview to one of using this type of unique interview format as an opportunity to shine.”
Panel interviews save time for employers relaying information about a candidate to various levels. Commonly two to five people from a cross section of the company will take turns to ask questions and they will expect you to communicate with each panel member.
- Make sure to vary who you make eye contact with.
- Before your interview, try to ascertain who will be on the panel and their roles – you may be able to anticipate the style or types of question they may ask.
- Finally, remember to bring several copies of your CV or a presentation with you for each panellist.
For more advice on interview top tips and how to appear engaged and interested throughout, take a look at our blog on positive body language during interviews.