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The different types of interviews (plus tips and tricks for smashing them)

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

It is a well known fact that the best way to conquer a job interview is by being prepared. Preparation can come in the form of knowing what to expect and how to handle what is thrown at you. To help in this preparation process, we’ve listed out 8 of the major types of interviews and our top tips on how to smash them.

Behavioural Interviews

These are used to assess how you have handled specific situations in your previous jobs. They are typically asked around a set of behaviours that the organisation values. For example, if you are interviewing for a team that values teamwork, you may be asked the question ‘tell me a time when you contributed to a team goal'. Our tips for these questions are:

  • Do your homework Understand the type of behaviours an organisation values (you can normally find these in the job description or in the ‘what we are looking for’ section). Using this as your basis, come up with a list of competencies and behaviours, then think of all the situations and experiences you have gone through. Write these out in detail next to the competency so you create a list of your past experiences.

  • Look at past performance reviews A great way to get a good understanding of what you have done well is by looking at your past performance appraisals...what have other people praised you for? Take this as a starting basis to compile your list of examples.

  • Use the STAR method to explain your examples The STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result - and this is something you should aim to explain when answer any question that is behavioural. To follow the STAR technique, you have to go through the following steps:

Situation: Describe the situation and when it took place.

Task: Explain the task and what was the goal.

Action: Provide details about the action you took to attain this.

Result: Conclude with the result of your action.

And remember, when answering these questions use words like ‘I’ not ‘We’ as this implies other people are responsible for the success.

  • Focus on the good and the not-so-good. When preparing for behavioural interviews, you can often get caught up preparing the good examples i.e. ‘Tell me an example of when you’ve worked in a team and it resulted in a positive outcome’ or ‘tell me about a time you improved something’ but it’s so important to prepare answers for the times when things haven’t gone as well and how you overcame any obstacles - a common one interviewers love is ‘tell me about a time you received bad feedback’.

Stress interviews

These do exactly what they say they do - assess how you respond to stress and extreme pressure. They are the type of questions that you may not be expecting and seem a little bit ‘left field’, examples include ‘How do you feel this interview is going?’, ‘How many other jobs are you applying for?’, ‘What did you do when you had a boss or co-worker you didn't get along with?’ or ‘I don’t think you answered my question properly - can you elaborate?’

  • Keep Calm The most important thing is to keep calm - you don’t have to come up with a response straight away - take a few seconds or have a sip of your water and take your time when it comes to answering these questions.

  • Don't Look For the 'Right' Answer There is often no right answer when it comes to these types of questions, it’s often how you answer them which will give you the points. And if there’s logic and a sense of calm in your answer, you will be fine.

  • Don’t take it personal It doesn’t necessarily mean the interviewer hasn’t taken a fancy to you and you haven’t got the job - the interviewer is just doing their job to ensure the best talent is hired. Bare this in mind, before coming up with a sassy comeback.

  • Practice and seek feedback. Like all job interviews, practice makes perfect when it comes to stress interviews. Google a list of possible stress questions and run through scenarios with your family and friends - this way you will come up with a few lines that you can store in your head and automatically refer back to.

Case study interview

Many big corporates, whether you are applying for their graduate scheme or as an experienced hire will throw a case study at you. They are particularly common in consulting and sales. A case study interview is when you are given a business problem and asked to solve that problem in a certain amount of time, you usually have to present your solution back to a interviewer. So how do you battle a case study:

  • Understand the issue ask clarifying questions if needed - the interviewer will have strict guidelines on what they can and can't help you with.

  • Have a read through of the material they give you, then read through it again. Pick out the most important elements that will be relevant to you and will help you with the answer - it’s so important to focus on the high-impact issues so your time isn’t wasted.

  • Pre-prepare All presentations have a beginning, middle and end. The beginning often states the key points of what you are going to do in the presentation and starts to present the problem. The good thing about interviews being done virtually is that you can prepare as much as possible before the interview actually takes place. You can create the straw frame of the presentation and all the design elements of it before the case study interview takes place - taking pressure of yourself during the actual interview.

  • Structure the problem and form a framework. The best case study answers follow a great framework. Start with summarising the specific issues and findings (which is why reading and understanding the issue is key), generate a hypothesis and explore the options creatively. It’s also important to show your working and how you got to your recommendations. Whilst its important to answer the question, it’s also great to outline next steps and the expected results/impacts. Don’t forget to identify the underlying assumptions in your solution.

Group Interviews

For a lot of people the words ‘group interview’ will send a shiver down the spin - but it doesn’t have to. So, what is a group interview? It’s used to asses multiple candidates at the same time and is often used if a company is hiring for more than one position. Also very popular for a graduate roles. Our tips:

  • Be True to Your Yourself Often group interviews are where you see people drift away from being who they are and into a macho character they think will do well in a group interview scenario. And often it’s not true! It’s best to be who you really are in a group assessment as this will show your greatest strengths and mean you are hired for that.

  • Listen More Than You Talk Group scenarios have this weird effect on people where they think if they speak more they will get noticed and the job will be theirs. Which isn’t 100% true - often when we speak too much, we aren’t speaking with substance. So consciously think about what you are saying before you say it. It’s also key to involve everyone in your answers, especially those who may appear to be quieter in the exercise.

  • Be Confident in Your Body Language and Voice All interviewers will assess your body language but even more so in a group scenario - how your body language allows others to feel is key. And keeping it open and inclusive to all those in the room will help massively.

  • Divide the group so everyone has a role (the time keeping role is the best) A good functioning team has a clear division of roles. There is normally the project manager, the note keeper etc. But one that is often overlooked is the time keeper. Like the case study exercises, you are normally time bound in a group interview. And often that is someones role in a group to keep the time to make sure the team stay on track. It’s always good to volunteer for this role as it shows leadership, organisation and commitment.

Panel interview

Are you being interviewed by one person or multiple people? If it’s multiple people then a panel interview is taking place as you will often be questioned by multiple interviewers from the same organisation. To master the panel interview...

  • Engage the Group With Your Responses Panel interviews will often see you being fired questions from various different people. When answering these questions, it's great to talk to all of the panel members - not just the one that asked you the question. Bonus points for learning the name of your interviewers.

  • Prepare for Follow-Up Questions from different perspectives Not everyone on the panel interview will have the same job. And they may be at different stages of their career or in different departments, so be prepared to get follow up questions that might be specific to their niche or career journey - this shouldn’t throw you off but it is something to be aware of.

Phone interviews

Phone interviews can often be one of the first steps in your interview process. They are quite conversational and normally go through your CV, asking questions as and when they arise. Phone interviews shouldn't be mistaken as easy:

  • Take it as seriously as an in person interview Even if you’re not seen, it’s still important to dress the part - put on a suit, put on a smart shirt, skirt and heels and dress like you’re being interviewed in real life.

  • Do a practice run to make sure you have signal Now that we all are on zoom and teams using wifi all the time, using actual mobile phone signal seems like a bit of a pastime. It’s always beneficial to check you have signal in the location where you are planning to take the call from and that there are no distractions.

  • Prepare your own “cheat sheet” The good thing about it being a phone interview and not a video interview is that you can refer to your notes without being seen. Create a short but substantial sheet that you can refer to throughout your interview so you can keep information at the top of your mind.

An exit interview

Exit interviews are often conducted when you leave a company and/ or let go. The interviewer (usually someone from HR) will normally ask why you are leaving and your feedback on the company. Exit interviews sound scary, but they really aren't:

  • Secure your reference before the call Although a exit interview should be unbiased on both sides, you never know how it will influence the other person . This means you have to secure what you need before - whether it’s a reference or an introduction to someone, ensure this is done before your interview just in case.

  • Resist the temptation to offload Exit interviews in most cases are a formality, a tick box exercise (sorry to put it so bluntly) - with that in mind it’s important to remember that it’s not a counselling session, it is a space where you should talk facts, not opinion.

  • Be happy It’s important to keep the mood of the interview light - remember you are leaving for pastures new, and with that in mind make sure you don’t cut any ties and you can go back in the future.

And finally, the bonus tip for all interviews is to send a follow up email, thanking the interviewer for their time and conversation.

Fempire Finance

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