During your job-seeking journey, you may come across a variety of different interviews. All interviews have the same objective – to see if you’re the right person for the job – so you can relax a little in the knowledge that you at least know roughly what the recruiters are looking for.
You will need to be able to prepare for the different types of interview to maximise your chances of success, however.
A good tip is to remember to ask questions about the employer and organisation. By all means ask about salary, perks and benefits, but don’t ask about only this and make sure you ask a few other questions first. Recruiters can tell if you’re applying for a job because you would love to work with the company or if you’re applying because you would like a company car.
The main point of a group interview is to see how you operate within a team. Often, a company whose employees work in teams will stage group interviews for applicants. Recruiters are mostly looking for leadership skills, motivational skills and interpersonal skills. The downside of a group interview is that you have to balance being outgoing and motivational with making sure you don’t come across too strong. Be aware of this, and leave your ego at the door.
These interviews are designed to get you talking about the skills that are required for the job. You’ll have to talk about how you’ve achieved things in the past using these required skills. Try to talk about something other than what’s on your CV. If this means selectively leaving evidence of experience off your CV to give yourself something to talk about if you get an interview, then so be it, although make sure you leave something worthwhile reading on…
You will be asked technical questions about the job in a technical interview. Although your personality and skills are important to your application, if you’re applying for a role as a computer repairman, then not knowing what CPU, RAM, ROM, HDD, GHz and MHz means won’t stand you in good stead. You won’t be expected to know every answer (although well done if you do!), which isn’t a problem, as it will inform the company if you need training in any areas, but you’ll be expected to know roughly the same as people currently performing the job.
More often in the media or fashion worlds, you’ll be expected to bring along your portfolio for recruiters to look at. A close friend of mine recently told me about his interview for journalism school: he and about 20 other applicants were sitting around a coffee table in a waiting room when the course director walked in and asked everyone to put their portfolios on the table. About 5 people hadn’t brought a portfolio, so before the course director did anything else, he rang taxis for all 5 of them to take them back to the train station. The moral of the story is, if you’re in an industry where you’re expected to showcase your work at interview, get a portfolio.
Telephone interviews strike fear into the heart of many an applicant. Being told “we’ll ring you for an interview some time within the next fortnight” is terrifying, as you know you’ll spend the next 14 days without sleep, sucking your thumb and gently rocking back and forth in front of the telephone. These nerves can easily be quashed with some simple preparation. Have a copy of your CV by the phone, as when the interviewer rings you they will have a copy in their hand and will ask you questions about it.
Practice makes perfect, as they say. It helps if you already have experience of talking to people on the phone in a professional context, but if that’s something you’re short on, then ask a friend or family member if they’d mind staging a mock telephone interview with you to see if you come across OK. You’ll actually have to ring the person helping you and speak to them on the phone and not just be in different rooms.
Recording yourself and playing back the recording can help you locate any issues with the way you speak. Perhaps you don’t speak clearly enough or you ramble on for ages at a time. These things can be ironed out. Get a friend or relative to listen to the recording too, as they will be much more objectively critical than you will be.