Organisations interview in many different ways both in terms of style as well as process. As an interviewee you should never assume that each interview will be structured in exactly the same way and you should always aim to improve your interview style through better preparation and understanding of the interview process. Of course, your greatest ally is the recruitment consultant you are working with who will be able to prepare you based on their knowledge of the organisation and role in question.
Interviewing can be a pretty daunting experience, but with some good preparation you can make things an awful lot easier for yourself. The following tips may seem obvious but it is always worthwhile checking them off in advance.
- Know where you are going. Check the address. If you don’t know the area, call your consultant for directions. Give yourself lots of time and aim to arrive 10 minutes early.
- Have you called your recruitment consultant, at least the day before, and got a briefing on the job including who you are seeing, and going through any job description? They should also be able to help you with the type of interview, the personality of the interviewer or with any other information that you may need.
- Have you checked out the organisation’s website? This will tell you about the business and should give you some useful background information. Check if they have a careers section which may give you information about their values and culture. It will certainly tell you how they want to be seen by prospective employees.
- Make sure you know what is in your CV. Think about why you have moved in the past, why you have made certain career decisions, what you enjoyed about certain jobs. Think clearly about what you are looking to do now and why.
- Make sure you know what information you want to get out of the interview and you have a good list of questions to ask. It doesn’t do any harm to write them down; it shows you have prepared and you are much more likely to remember them.
Generally, interviews will take the form of one of the following formats:
The CV-based Interview
This interview style follows the more traditional question and answer format.
The Behavioural Interview
The thinking behind behavioural interviewing is that it provides the most accurate prediction of future performance through analysis of past performance in similar types of situations. The company has already identified job-related experiences, behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities (competencies) that they feel are desirable in the position and these are sometimes hinted at in the job description.
The team interview
In an effort to get a well-rounded perspective on candidates, many companies ask more than one team member to take part in the interview and selection process. Using pre-agreed criteria, job descriptions and personal impressions, they assess the feedback following the individual sessions and discuss their reaction.
The goal of the technical interview is to get to understand your technical skill set. By sharing the thought processes with your interviewer, you demonstrate your communication skills and analytical ability. Interviewers are looking to assess not only your technical ability but also your ability to think critically, to solve problems.
You are not going to be expected to know everything so, if you are asked a question you just don’t know the answer to, then don’t try to talk your way around it. This can also be a good opportunity to tell the interviewer how you would research that particular question. It’s not about knowing everything, it’s about being able to find out anything.
Because there are an infinite number of technical interview questions that interviewers can throw at you, and many may consist of hypothetical scenarios with no single correct answer, there is not a perfect way to prepare. That is precisely what technical interviews are all about. Just make sure that you are comfortable talking through the technical areas on your CV and you are not thrown by the obvious simple questions.