Interviews can vary in format from what is billed as 'a casual chat'; a formal structured panel interview with several interviewers; a telephone interview or, increasingly, video interviews.
Most graduate interviews are competency based, i.e. they ask for examples of when you have already utilised your skills effectively.
Whatever the format, your preparation and performance should be the same in all instances as the purpose of the interview is always the same.
The interview could last from twenty minutes to more than an hour.
The "Casual Chat"
On the whole, interviews will be of a formal nature, however on occasions you may find yourself invited to meet your potential employer for a ‘casual chat'. This is an opportunity for the employer to get to know who you are. However the conversation flows, remember to remain professional – this is still an interview after all!
Telephone interviews are often used at the beginning of a graduate programme recruitment process. It is a cost effective method for the employer allowing them to filter large numbers of applicants down to those most suitable for face to face interview with representatives of the organisation.
Telephone interviews tend to be shorter than face to face interviews and less likely to form a discussion – you will most likely be asked a series of quick fire questions to assess your verbal communication and quick-thinking skills.
As with any interview, it is vital that you prepare for telephone interviews. Keep your application/CV at hand so that you can refer to it if need be. Listen very carefully to all questions asked and try to remain professional and positive at all times.
Video interviews are becoming far more common across all industries and may often be used to interview a potential candidate who is unable to attend a face to face interview. It is imperative that you prepare for video interviews in the same way you would for a face to face interview as often the questions asked will be very similar, however there are extra caveats that you need to consider:
- Location – make sure you use a private room where you won't be disturbed or distracted. Sit at a desk or table and check lighting and background to make sure that the employer is clearly focusing on you.
- Internet connection – ensure that your internet connection is strong on the day – the last thing you want is
- Volume – make sure your volume is at a setting allowing you to hear the questions clearly.
- Dress – dress as you would for a face to face interview, presenting yourself as professionally as possible, this will help you to feel more confident during the interview.
- Set up early – make sure that you sign in to your video account early to avoid any last minute issues. Turn off other programmes on your computer to prevent any distractions including unexpected noises!
- Delivery – maintain eye contact and use positive body language
- Practice – ask a friend or family member to Skype you to make sure all is working well and looking professional.
Face to Face Interviews
Face to face interviews are the most common form of interview. One to one interviews, as the title suggests, is a face to face interview with one representative of the company. This is less common for graduate level jobs but more likely for work experience or voluntary positions.
Panel interviews are the most common form of interview involving two or more interviewers representing the company allowing a range of views representing their various interests to be gathered on your potential for success. Members of the panel will often have the opportunity to ask a couple of questions each – remember and direct your answers to the person asking the question!
Group interviews involve being interviewed alongside other potential candidates. This may form working as a group to address a particular issue. Be aware, the interviewers may be assessing you on a number of qualities during this form of interview so focus on your communication skills (verbal and non-verbal), team working skills, and maintain a professional manner throughout.