Interview Techniques

Introduction and Types of Interview

When an employer calls and asks you to come in for a job interview, it’s a very big deal.  It means he or she looked at your CV and covering letter, and, based on it, thinks you are qualified for the job.

However, it’s not always quick and easy to land that dream job.  The job interview process can be lengthy.  Being interviewed once and getting a job offer can be a thing of the past.  Today, many companies have a complex interview process starting with screening interviews, which often take place on the phone, followed by in-person interviews, second interviews, and even third interviews.

In addition to a hiring manager, you might meet with managers, employees, and other staff.  How vacancies are handled depends on the employer and the systems they have in place for screening and evaluating potential new employees. 

During the interview process the employer (and hopefully your future boss) asks you questions about your qualifications, work experience, personality and life – you then answer honestly while trying to impress them.  Job interviews can be really stressful.  However, if you prepare properly for your interview  then you can get rid of the nerves and show your interviewer why they MUST hire you.  Confidence is key to succeeding in an interview.  Your confidence will grow, and your interview technique will naturally improve as you attend more interviews.

Here are some of the ways in which you may be interviewed:

  • Screening Interview

A screening interview is a type of job interview that is conducted to determine if the applicant has the qualifications needed to do the job for which the company is advertising.  A screening interview is typically the first interview in the hiring process. 

  • Phone Interview

Employers use phone interviews to identify and recruit candidates for employment.  Phone interviews are often used to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews.  For remote jobs, interviewing by phone, Skype, or video may be how you get hired.

  • In Person Interview

The in-person job interview is typically a one-on-one interview between the applicant and a manager. The interviewer will ask questions about the applicant’s experience and skills, work history, availability, and the qualifications the company is seeking in the best candidate for the job.  For high flying jobs you may have a second, and even a third, interview;  you may meet with management, staff members, executives, and other company employees or have a panel interview.

  • Panel interview

This is where you’re interviewed by more than one person at a time – expect two or more interviewers to be in the room with you.

  • Psychometric Testing

The employer has read your cover letter ad CV and now they may want you to complete psychometric tests to analyse your reasoning and cognitive abilities.  Employers use tests like this to assess your acquired skills rather than educational background.  The majority of psychometric tests are taken on line and include:

Numerical Ability: tests simple and complex maths skills.

Abstract Reasoning: evaluates reasoning and is used to gauge general intellect.

Verbal Reasoning: tests your ability to evaluate detailed written information so as to make informed decisions.

Aptitude Tests:  used to measure a candidate’s knowledge level in a specific field, so can vary for different kinds of jobs.

Personality Tests: involves a large number of questions, to analyse motivations, personality type and your fit to a specific role.

Be prepared …..

Before the Interview

Regardless of the type of interview you’re preparing for, doing plenty of research and planning is key. Generally, you should:

  • Identify the skills, interests and experiences that the organisation is looking for by looking at its website and social media channels.
  • Plan your journey in advance, aiming to arrive ten minutes before your interview is scheduled.  
  • Dress to impress – wear what is appropriate for the job and the company; what would be appropriate for a building company is very different from an office.  Be comfortable, smart and pay attention to detail my making sure you iron your shirt, wear smart shoes, keep accessories subtle.
  • Prepare answers to common interview questions, as well as your own questions to ask at the interview (see during the interview).
  • Find out about the people who’ll interview you.
  • Research the issues, trends and opportunities affecting the organisation and the wider job sector.
  • On the night before your interview, avoid alcohol, prepare your outfit and get plenty of sleep.
  • Take with you a bottle of water, a pen and notepad, photo ID (e.g. your passport or driving licence), the job description and person specification your academic certificates and your CV, application form and interview invitation.

During the Interview

Employers use interviews to assess how well you match the requirements of the job; they also allow you to ensure that the organisation is where you want to work.  They’ll already have an indication of your qualities from your application, but you must confirm in person that you’ve got the skills and experience to successfully perform in the role. This makes preparing answers to some common interview questions in advance especially important.

  • Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

You should begin with an overview of your highest qualification and greatest achievements, before running through your work experience and giving examples of the skills that you’ve developed.  If you’ve little work history, focus on the areas of academia that you’ve most enjoyed and how this relates to the job.

  • Why do you want to work here?

Demonstrate that you’ve researched the role by discussing the skills and interests that led you to apply.  Tell the interviewer what particular aspect of the job advertisement enticed you.

  • What do you know about the company?

Make sure you have fully researched the company for this one!

  • What are your strengths?

Pick three or four attributes desired by the employer in the person specification; teamwork, leadership, initiative and lateral thinking are common examples. Whichever strengths you pick, ensure that you can evidence them with examples.

  • What are your weaknesses?

Never say that you have no weaknesses, that you’re a perfectionist, or that you work too hard.  These are clichéd responses that portray you as arrogant, dishonest or lacking in self-awareness.

  • Why should we hire you?

This question allows you to demonstrate your unique selling point and other major strengths, outlining how your skills, interests and experiences fit the job. Ensure that you’re positive and perhaps even reemphasise your greatest achievements – but don’t boast.

  • Do you have any questions?

Anything that you ask should cover the work itself or career development.  Prepare questions in advance; if all your queries have been answered, mention that the interviewer has covered everything you need to know.  Good interview questions to ask the employer include:

  • Are there opportunities to progress within the role/company?
  • How do you see this Position developing?
  • What training and development is provided?
  • Why has the post become available?

At the end of the Interview

  • Ask about the next steps and when you can expect to hear from them.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time.
  • Be prepared in case they offer you the position there and then.