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There are quite a number of types of interviews, and interviews have become a little more scientific in recent years. Lots of fads have entered the market, as well as good practices. By good practice we simply mean that they are more valid. By valid we mean, what they see in interview is exactly the same as what you are like in the work environment. The types of interview (or selection) can be classified into a number headings, and these are described below. We deal with assessment centres later in this part of the site.
Of all the types of interviews, this is becoming more an more popular. This is usually a further
…the interviewer is going to ask questions to look for evidence that you have the competence to do the role.screening method, and saves time and cost for both parties. However, it reduces one of your main advantages at interview – the ability to establish rapport. Instead, you now have to rely on how you speak (speed, tone, modulation, volume and use of pauses), and the words you use. It also does provide you with a benefit. You can have notes, your CV, or any other materials in front of you whilst the interview is being conducted. Below yo will find a check-list for preparing for the interview, and during the interview itself.
Before the Telephone Interview
- Make sure there are no disturbances around you. Kids, animals, calls that might come through, alarms, and anything else that might occur, probably will occur.
- Have a drink with you. You are likely to be doing a lot of talking, so moisture at the ready for your throat.
- Have your notes ready at hand. If they are inexperienced, it may well be a run through your CV. If they are more experienced, then it is likely to be a competency-based interview. If you have followed our suggested process for CV’s, then use exactly the same process for preparing for telephone interview. Remember, the advert, person specification and job description all told you which competencies were most important. Have your achievements ready to match them against their questions.
- Use the mind control tools to get yourself ready. No one knows you are doing it, and it will increase your chances enormously.
During the Telephone Interview
- The initial impact is important. Remember, people generally remember the first and last parts of a conversation more than the rest. You must sound enthusiastic for the role.
- At the start, show you have done your research about the business. Let them know that you have seen their latest product of service, their main competitor(s), their turnover, or any other facts about them. Just mention them. It shows that you are interested (not just another job), and it shows you are enthusiastic about the role.
- Rapport is about being similar to the person you are talking to. Their kind of person. We can achieve this with voice as well as through how we use our body. Let’s explain. If you are a fast talker, then there is little more frustrating that being in a conversation with a slow talker. Fast talkers do not how or examine the meaning of each individual word. They tend to paint a picture using lots of words. Conversely, if you are a slow talker, there is nothing more frustrating than being in a conversation with a fast talker. As a slow talker, you examine each word, and then analyse how it fits with the other information from the conversation. Therefore, and in this order of importance:
- Match the speed of the interviewers language. If they talk slowly, so should you.
The initial impact is important. Remember, people generally remember the first and last parts of a conversation more than the rest.
- Match the volume of the interviewer.
- If the interviewer tends to use certain words repeatedly, then also use those ‘key words’. Sometimes the interviewer will use an incorrect term. Never replace their word with the correct one. There is nothing worse than correcting your interviewer.
- Match the speed of the interviewers language. If they talk slowly, so should you.
- Make sure the quantities within your achievements come through. If it is a competency-based interview, the interviewer will ask you for examples. “Can you give me an example of a time that you….” Pick the achievement that matches their question, state where the achievement took place, the problem that was being experienced, who was involved, what you did, and the result including the measure of your success (the number).
The idea is that if we can state the competency requirements of the role, we can then match people’s competence to the role.These are relatively recent and come off the back of organisations introducing competency sets. From an organisations perspective, they are looking for a consistent way of providing meaning to job roles and people’s skills, behaviours, expertise, strengths and values. The idea is that if we can state the competency requirements of the role, we can then match people’s competence to the role. They are often used in talent management, performance management, and recruitment and selection.
For interviews, all this means for you are an interviewee is that the interviewer is going to ask questions to look for evidence that you have the competence to do the role. In basic terms, the interviewer asks, “Can you give me an example of when you have demonstrated [x competency]?” You answer with an achievement, including the numbers/result. Use the word ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ as this often gives you more points. They then turn to their next competence question. Have more than one achievement for each competence area. You will get the competencies from the advertisement, person specification and job description.
In answering competency interview questions, the interviewer may, if they are proficient, have further probe questions (to really understand the achievement), and scales to rate you against. To help the interviewer (and yourself), try the following structure when answering a question with an achievement:
- Situation – where were you? In what role?
- Problem to be solved or other reason for undertaking the work – what was the requirement? Why was it important? Provide them with some context.
- What you did and who you influenced – do not go into great detail, but provide enough for them to paint a picture in their mind.
- Result – Did it work? What was the measured outcome?
For example, if asked, “Give me an example of a time where you exceeded profit against budget.”
“When I was working as an Assistant Manager within a branch of the Acme Corporation, I found there was a significant issue with repeat sales. As I investigated further, I discovered that we simply did not market to previous customers, let alone give them incentives for repeat business. I presented some ideas of how we could increase our profit to my line manager, and with his backing, to the MD and Finance Director. I showed then how we could use our database to market to previous customers, and with the cost of sale being lower for repeat business, how we could pass on some of that cost saving to those customers. My design was based on both email campaigns and through our web sales platform. They liked it and asked me to pilot it in my branch with an email campaign.
The results were great. Within my branch alone, we increased profit by 8% through simple email marketing. What was really great was that I was then asked to train the other branches, set-up templates for email marketing across the organisation, and help the web team design our offers. In our first year, just from utilising existing customers and rewarding them for repeat business, sales went up by 13%. The web offer really helped. This added £420,000 to our profit. Even better, they were so delighted that I was promoted and won the Chairman’s Prize for the quarter.”
Competency is often confused with a number of other types of technical Competency based interviews can also be known as:
- Episodic interview – searching for episodes where you demonstrated a competence.
- Behavioural interview.
Less popular but coming back big time for senior roles. This can also be called ‘Top Grading’ and tends to be aimed at more senior roles. All that happens is that the interviewer will go back through your history to understand:
- The choices you made in your career, and the reasons why.
- The successes and disappointments, and what you have learned from then. Remember that successes mean achievements, so give lots of numbers.
- Your motivations generally and for this role in particular.
They are effectively looking at performance and potential.
The Structured Interview
If we were purists, the interviewer should ask the same questions in the same way to all applicants to avoid discrimination. However, the reality is that they will probe at points of interest.This types of interview may be a mix of both the above. If we were purists, the interviewer should ask the same questions in the same way to all applicants to avoid discrimination. However, the reality is that they will probe at points of interest. Again, use your achievements. It is hard for them not to probe if you say, “…and that saved £20,000 for the business year-on-year.” Also get replies ready based on typical questions on the next pages.
The basis of the structured interview is to provide a like-for-like comparison against the requirements of a role. Generally, the public sector will use a highly structured approach (most for fear of discrimination Laws).
Whilst you will usually have one to two interviewers present, on occasion (especially in the public sector), you may be confronted by a full panel. These types of interviews are usually used when there are a number of stakeholders for the role, and they all have an interest. This plays to extroverts more than introverts for obvious reasons. Typically, they will have set questions that each will ask to ensure it is structured. Whilst this may seem daunting, it does provide opportunities too. For best effect, practise and do the following for panel interviews:
- Use the mind control techniques before entering the interview.
- Do shake each person’s hand on the panel in turn – no one wants to feel left out.
- When you are asked a question, make sure that you make eye-contact with each of the panel, though spend more time with your eye-contact with the person that asked.
- Get in rapport with the person that asked the question. That means you may need to change body positions a number of times during the interview. Be very subtle when doing this. The best time to change position is when you are about to speak and reply to their question. that will come across as completely natural.
The ‘Also Ran’ Candidate Interview
There is an internal candidate that everyone favours, but there is a policy that the role must be externally advertised. You are unlikely to know if this is happening. Sorry, but it is a fact of life.Let’s just be honest with you. Much like procurement departments will insist on having other suppliers (due to internal policy) to tender for work despite already knowing who will end up with the work, interviews can follow the same principle. There is an internal candidate that everyone favours, but there is a policy that the role must be externally advertised. You are unlikely to know if this is happening. Sorry, but it is a fact of life. Remember, interviews are a game. And like some games, the odds can be stacked against you.
If you suspect this, just play the interview as you would otherwise. It is now really good interview practise. You will also relax just suspecting it to be the case.
Types of Interviews – Conclusion
There are lots of types of interviews and other assessment methods. We have not touched the ‘lunch interview’, sequential interviews (room to room with different interviewers in a single day), or lots of other variations of those stated above. To be quite honest, these do not vary a great deal. It all comes down to:
- Get your mind in control.
- Show you have done your research.
- Get in rapport.
- Hot those achievements together with the numbers.
Get these key ingredients right, and no matter what types of interviews you encounter, you will have a better chance of success.
If you are following the pathway, you will find the next section on types of interviewers here.
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