Preparation tips for every job interview type
Before you start preparing for a job interview, you need to understand what type of interview it is that you are preparing for. Is it a case interview? A competency based interview? Or should you be readying yourself for a group interview?
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Depending on what employers are looking to assess, they will use different types of interview techniques.
1. Behavioural Interviews
Behaviour-based interviewing (BBI) is used to assess how you have handled specific employment related situations in your previous job which will help them evaluate your future performance. The difference between a behaviour-based interview and a traditional job interview is that you are asked to describe, in detail, how you have dealt with a certain situation in the past that is similar to the ones you will be encountering in the role you are interviewing for.
Prepare: Examples of behaviour based interview questions
- "Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?"
- "Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?"
- "Describe a time when you saw a problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it."
2. Case Interviews
During a case interview you will be given a situation and asked how you would manage that specific situation and/or solve a business problem. BCG, Bain or McKinsey often use case interviews to assess candidates’ skills for management consulting positions.
Typically, it will most likely be a business scenario that you are going to encounter when working for the company.
Prepare: Case interview questions
In most instances, there isn’t necessarily one right answer or indeed one way of approaching a problem; interviewers are looking for a structured approach that is effectively communicated. It is about finding a way to gain insight, even when there is no obvious solution, and explaining effective processes that you would use for uncovering the underlying issues.
Example of Case Interview Scenarios
There are many resources available providing case interview examples that have been used by some of the biggest consulting firms.
3. Stress Interviews
A stress interview, as the name indicates, is used to assess how you respond to stress and under extreme pressure. In contrast to other interview types where hiring managers will make an effort to make you feel at ease, this is not the case during a stress interview.
During this type of interview hiring managers will be trying to gauge how well (or badly) you would handle certain stressful situations at work.
Prepare: Stress interview questions
Be prepared to answer questions that range from mildly disconcerting to aggressive, and even inappropriate. Some questions could be quite confrontational as well, such as:
- "Why were you fired from your last job?"
- "How do you think this interview is going?"
- "How would you deal with a co-worker that you caught stealing?"
The key to handling this type of interview is to remain calm. While it can be challenging to remain calm during this type of job interview as it feels like the interviewer is personally out to get you, there are a number of techniques that you can use to ace a stress interview, such as clarifying the question, requesting more details or telling a story that makes your point.
4. Competency Based Interviews
Competency based interviews are also known as “structured interviews” and are used by hiring managers to assess your soft skills and interpersonal competencies. The skills and competencies you are assessed against vary depending on the position you are interviewing for. Skills and competencies you might be asked to demonstrate are:
- Team work
Hiring managers will be asking you questions in relation to your behaviour in specific circumstances which you should back up with examples.
Prepare: Example interview questions
- "Which change of job did you find the most difficult to make?"
- "Tell us about a situation where your communication skills made a difference to a situation."
- "How do you feel writing a report differs from preparing an oral presentation?"
5. Group Interviews
As the name indicates, this type of job interview means multiple candidates are being interviewed at the same time and is often used if the company is hiring for more than one position.
Prepare: Examples of group interview questions
Below are some of the Group Interview Questions Google Hire suggest hiring managers ask during this an interview with multiple attendees:
- "Why do you want to work for our company?"
- "In five minutes, explain something that is complicated but that you know well."
- "Describe a mistake you made at your last job and how you resolved it."
6. Panel Interviews
During a panel interview, you will be interviewed by multiple interviewers from the same organisation and/or an external company. The goal of this type of interview is to minimise the risk of a bad hire.
Prepare: Panel interview questions
Panel interview questions will vary depending on the company and the position you are applying for. These can be questions such as:
- "How would a colleague describe you?"
- "Why do you want to work for us?"
- "Why should we hire you?"
However, you might be asked behavioural and/or competency based questions as well. For in-depth interview questions that you can expect in a panel interview, you might want to consider preparing by reading the complete guide to panel interviews.
7. Video & Remote Interviews
Video and remote interviews, when the applicant and interviewer are separated by distance, have become much more common. Video interviews can either be with the hiring manager or a recruiter and they can be either in person or ‘on demand’. On demand means you will record your responses to a number of interview questions for the hiring manager to review.
Interviewing in this way allows the hiring organisation to tap into a wider, more diverse pool of talent.
Prepare: Setting up for a video interview
Remote interviews come with their own challenges and you want to make sure you’re literally ‘set up’ the best way possible to ensure your interview runs smoothly without any easily avoidable glitches.
- Do a trial run (is the link working? Have you downloaded the right software?)
- Check your webcam and microphone (is the video clear and can your voice be easily heard?)
- Check your background (what does your background look like? Have you removed anything that looks cluttered or unprofessional?)
Remote interview attire - Be presentable
There’s a good chance you won’t need to stand up during this interview type. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you are dressed appropriately; it’s important to get into the same mindset as if you were going into the offices for your interview.
8. Phone Interviews
Phone interviews can often be one of the first steps in your interview process. More and more, companies are carrying out pre-interview telephone screening before inviting the person for a face-to-face interview, so it’s crucial you are fully prepared to speak over the phone.
Prepare: Phone interview behaviour
- Cut out all distractions (find a quiet place, have your materials nearby for easy access)
- Speak clearly (take a break between the questions and think about what you want to say)
- Listen and do not dominate the conversation (ask questions about the job that weren’t covered in the job posting)
Below are some questions that you can prepare for in advance of a phone screening:
- "Tell me about yourself and your experience."
- "Why do you want to work at this company in particular?"
- "Can you share any experience of when you managed a team?"
9. Lunch Interviews
Lunch interviews differ drastically from other interview types as the interview takes place over a meal. Besides worrying about what interview questions you should be prepared for, there are a number of additional considerations. What should you order which isn’t going to be messy to eat? How are you going to talk about your professional achievements while trying to eat?
Prepare: How to get ready for a restaurant interview
The interviewer will be watching how you interact with the host, the manner in which you address the serving staff and other people in the restaurant. It goes without saying that you should always be polite, but in this situation you need to be mindful that you’re being observed, so make sure you are courteous to everyone!
Given their very nature, lunch interviews are more casual than office setting interviews so you will need to be prepared to keep up a good conversation - when preparing for the more technical side of the interview, you should dedicate a bit of time to scrubbing up on your small talk. Still, it’s crucial to avoid certain topics such as politics or religion; weather and holiday plans are safe.
Other types of interviews
A mock interview gives you the opportunity to practice for the ‘real’ job interview. You can practice mock interviews with a career coach, counsellor or a recruitment consultant. For example, at Morgan McKinley we provide ‘interview PREP’ to all our candidates. PREP stands for Prepare, Review, Evaluate and Perfect.
During PREP we will give you insights into the types of questions that a particular hiring organisation may ask, as well as some insights into the varying requirements of certain individual hiring managers. Every hiring manager will have a different interview approach and the more you are prepared, the better the outcome is likely to be!
Exit interviews are the opposite of a job interview. An exit interview is the type of interview you have if you decide to leave a company and/ or are being let go.
Companies conduct these types of interviews to get feedback on the job you have left and to gain a better understanding of how employees perceive the organisation as a whole. In short, exit interviews allow a company to continuously improve its workplace culture and optimise relations with the workforce.
Prepare: Exit interview questions
Some of the questions you might be asked are:
- "Was the company's benefits package sufficient?"
- "Did you receive enough training to do the job effectively?"
- "What did you like least about working for the company?"
- "What did you like best about your job?"
- "Why are you leaving your job?"
Preparing for Interviews
As you can see, interviews come in all forms. However, they all have one thing in common: preparation is the key to success. An effective way to prepare is to use the STAR format
S – Situation
T – Task
A – Action(s)
R – Result(s)
For the interview Situation you really want to “set the table”; give them all the important information.
Task is for what you’re looking to achieve or what you’re looking to remedy given the situation – it’s reiterating, clearly, to give the interviewer a direction to the “story”.
The Action(s) that you take are the meat of the answer. You want to specifically mention steps that you, yourself, took to deliver on the task.
Result is the dessert, it’s where you leave the interviewer nodding, smiling, and pencilling in your start date. The key is to provide tangible impacts of your work.
1) Start practising: Download our free Interview Preparation Guide to get started. (no need to fill out a form either!) to get started.
2) Browse and apply for jobs.