Before you go to a job interview you need to prepare lots of things in advance. For example, did you know that you should take a pen and notepad with you? You should also practice your answers to the most commonly asked job interview questions –
‘What are your weaknesses?’
‘Why do you want to work here?’
But there is also something else you need to be prepared for, and that’s the format of the interview. There can be lots of different ways an employer will conduct an interview, but we want to focus upon the three most common types.
One to one
Relatively small businesses may choose to conduct the interview with only your potential manager present. This works well for small teams when there is possibly just the one supervisor or manager who is in charge of about 4-6 people.
One to one interviews will usually be fairly short lasting around 30 minutes at the most. Your main goal is to build up a great rapport with this individual as they will be your manager. When there is more people in the interview it can be a little harder to connect with them all, so this type of interview can be easier. You just have to make sure you take advantage of it!
With every interview format you should always prepare by researching the company and the role (if possible). Researching the company should be fairly straight forward as you can visit their website, social media pages, and anything else you can find. Try to immerse yourself in the industry and find out what’s happening today. You should be able to impress the manager with your knowledge and show them that you have commercial awareness.
When it comes to the role you need to try and find out as much as you can. You can do this by speaking to a team member and asking them what they do on a daily basis. For example, if you are applying for a retail position you could visit the store and ask to speak with a colleague or even the manager. Keep your questions brief and focused upon the role. This type of insider information will help you in the interview and could impress the manager before you’ve even stepped in.
A panel interview will typically have 3 people in the interview. The first one will be your direct supervisor/manager. The second person may be someone from the team. Typically this may be an assistant manager or highly regarded team member. The manager sometimes likes to have a second opinion from someone they work closely with and trust. The third person will likely be the HR manager who will tend to ask more company focused questions.
This type of interview format is harder than the one to one interview, and will require much more focus to be successful. The questions will likely come from all directions and you need to be on your toes and ready for anything. The length of the interview will likely be anywhere between 30-60 minutes, and you may even find you are asked back for a second interview. Larger companies will typically conduct panel interviews.
The manager will usually ask most of the questions with a small bit of input from their colleague (assistant manager). They may even stay silent throughout and could be their just to give their thoughts to the manager after the interview. The HR manager will ask more generalised questions relating to the company. They are also on hand to help field any questions you or the manager may have about the hours, salary, benefits, and health and safety.
To prepare for this interview you need to consider how you can engage with all three people. A great tip would be to ensure you keep regular eye contact with whoever is asking the question, and try to answer any questions to all three of them. Although one person will ask a question at time, you should try to include all of them in your answer. Don’t just focus upon the person who asked the question, and make eye contact with the other two at some point.
Take at least 3-4 copies of your CV into the interview so you can hand one to each person. They may already have a copy but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take the initiative and hand them out if someone needs a copy.
Some employers like to conduct initial interviews over Skype as this will save a lot of time. It will help them to narrow the field down before they conduct official interviews at the business.
A Skype or video call interview will usually be fairly short and will last from anywhere between 10-20 minutes. It will be highly unlikely that this will be your only interview before a decision to hire is made, which is why they are often quite short.
Before you enter into a video call you need to ensure you are in a quiet room which will not be disturbed. If you are at home and a young child or family member happens to walk in during the interview, it will not go down very well with the employer. They will expect you to be professional and take the interview very seriously, so make sure there is no background noise or interruptions of any kind.
Whatever technology you use for the interview you need to make sure it is up to the task. Laptop cameras are usually fine for video calls, and most modern phones are acceptable. However, be mindful that your mobile phone may not be good enough and you need to do a test beforehand to check the quality. Do not Skype whilst on the move using your phone, as this would look very unprofessional.
Always sit in a room when you Skype and choose an appropriate background. You don’t want your Justin Bieber posters in the video! So choose a neutral background, like a white wall. Again, test the quality of your video and ensure there is plenty of light. The quality of the audio also needs to be tested to ensure it comes through fine. Consider purchasing a desk microphone to help with the quality of the audio.
Take the interview seriously and dress appropriately. If you would wear a suit and tie to a job interview, then you should wear it for a video call – there is no difference in the importance. Although this may be a fairly short interview which hopefully leads to the next stage, you still need to have the same mindset – so prepare in the same way.