Different types of interviews

Face-to-face or panel interview

  • This is the most common format
  • These normally consist of 3-4 people, often drawn from different functions e.g. line management and HR.
  • Each interviewer will usually take it in turns to ask questions about defined areas.
  • You should concentrate on giving your answer to the person who asked the question, but include the others with an occasional glance or gesture.

Telephone interview

  • These usually happen in the early stages of the recruitment process.
  • Prepare as you would for a face to face interview and be aware of how to come across well in the absence of body language.
  • Have a copy of your application form, covering letter and CV in front of you for reference.
  • Make sure that you are in a quiet place with good phone reception where you will not be interrupted.

Find out more about telephone interviews.

Video interview

  • Interview takes place over the internet using video chat software (like Skype).
  • Prepare as you would for a face-to-face interview, but also make sure you are in a distraction-free environment with a good internet connection.

Find out more about video interviews.

Case study

  • Focuses on a case study exercise to test your analytical and problem solving skills.
  • They are also a way for you to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively.

Find out more about case study interviews.

Assessment centre

  • Assessment centres are used by many employers as part of the selection process and normally take place before the final selection is made.
  • They normally involve a series of extended selection procedures lasting one to two days and can include group exercises, written exercises, oral presentations and psychometric tests as well as interviews.

Find out more about assessment centres.


What are the interviewers looking for?

The three Cs

1. Competencies
Can you do the job? Do you have the qualifications, skills and experience necessary for the role?

2. Commitment
How much do you really want the job? Do you have the right motivation and enthusiasm?

3. Cultural fit
Will you fit in with the culture and values of the organisation? Would people enjoy working with you, and you them? Will you fit in with other employees?

What do they want?

There is a broad range of key qualities and skills that employers look for. Here are a selection of the most common:

  • Self-reliance: the ability to manage your own career and personal development. This demonstrates confidence, self-awareness and successful action planning.
  • The ability to communicate effectively. This can be demonstrated by both interpersonal skills, and the ability to interpret complex information and use it to present information and ideas.
  • Team players- those able to work effectively with others and take into account the strengths and weaknesses of others.
  • Generalists: candidates with general management skills such as good written communication, computer literacy, numeracy skills, time management and problem solving capabilities. Some organisations may require specialist skills for the job.
  • The drive and initiative to improve your own learning and performance. e.g. through identifying priorities, setting targets and monitoring objectives.


On the day

How interviewers assess candidates

  • 7% content of answers
  • 38% tone of voice
  • 55% body language/ physical presentation

As can be seen from the above statistics, first impressions count- people tend to form an opinion of someone within a few minutes of meeting them. 

It is therefore important to dress appropriately and present yourself in the best possible light. Arrive on time, be pleasant and make a good impression on everyone you meet.

Dressing appropriately

  • It is important to create a professional impression at your interview.
  • You should feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing.
  • Different industries may have slightly different dress codes; nonetheless it is always wise to err on the side of formality.

Body language

  • Start and end the interview with a firm handshake with the interviewer(s).
  • A friendly expression, occasional smile where appropriate and good posture will indicate a positive approach.
  • Don't fidget.
  • Maintain good eye contact- if there is more than one person interviewing you, look at the person who asked you the question when responding, but glance at the other interviewers from time to time.
  • Leaning forward shows you are open and interested.
  • Uncrossed arms indicate a willingness to listen.


During the interview

  • Be convincing with your answers and able to back them up with real life experiences.
  • Be enthusiastic, positive and natural in your answers.
  • Pay careful attention to the questions they ask, not the ones you wish they had asked.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand the question.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Expand upon your answers- never just answer yes or no but avoid going off on a tangent.
  • Be truthful but positive- if you have to present negative information (for example a past failure) say how you have learned from it or how you overcame it.

Does your answer have the 'STAR' quality?

Situation- did you describe a relevant situation and is it clear?
Task- what was the objective of the situation or task?
Action- how did YOU go about tackling the situation and what was YOUR role in this
Results- what was the outcome and were your objectives met?

After the interview

  • Reflect on your experience and what you have learned.
  • What are your impressions on the employer? Do you want to work for them?
  • Make a note of the questions asked for future reference- could you answer them better next time?
  • Ask when you should expect to hear back from them. If they have not contacted you within this time frame try contacting them to find out about your progress.
  • If you are unsuccessful, ask them for feedback to see how you could improve next time.