Ann Pettengell - Candidates - Interview Styles

Interview Styles

Interview.  The very word can send cold shivers down your spine, but it needn’t be such a worry.  They come in several different shapes and sizes but all are manageable.  Many roles will have second, and sometimes third, interviews so you may find you encounter more than one style of interview along the way.  You may even have more than one style thrown into one interview.  But it’s ok.  We will always endeavour to find out which type of interview you will be having before we send you, so if you prepare well you’ll be just fine. 



Competency interviews focus on past behaviours in an attempt to predict future behaviour.  You will be questioned on behaviours that the employer deems desirable i.e. leadership, teamwork,  flexibility, dealing with stress (e.g. ‘Tell me about a time when you had conflict at work’).   With that in mind, prepare examples of how your experiences have built on your skills, and how those skills are relevant to the company.  If you don’t yet have any office experience it is perfectly acceptable to use alternative examples, i.e. from interactions with your tutor/peers/retail customers/etc.

It may help to approach your answers using the STAR technique:

Situation: Present a recent situation that you found yourself in.

Task: What did you have to achieve?

Action: How did you approach the problem?

Result: What was the outcome of your actions?



The structure of these interviews is often a group discussion where the employer will be looking out for candidates with leadership and teamwork qualities, and those who perform under pressure.   Your objective is to stand out from the crowd (for all the right reasons) and…..



Many interviews for our temporary roles are carried out via one-to-one interview.   It is an informal but professional meeting to establish whether your attributes are a good fit with the role and company.



The panel interview is probably the one most people have experience of.  The panel is commonly made up of the hiring manager, a colleague from their department, and a representative from HR (although it could be as many as 7 people, depending on the level of the role).  Usually the interview follows an organised format where each interviewer takes turns to ask their designated list of questions.  



For a presentation interview you could be provided with a subject and timeline in advance, or given just 15 minutes to prepare with 15 minutes to present.  Either way, your presentation should start with an overview, followed up with the main topic (divided in sections if necessary), and finished off with a succinct summary.



These interviews focus on what you would do in a hypothetical, challenging situation based on real-life business occurrences.  Both you and the interviewer assume a role and you would be given a goal to accomplish whilst dealing with the interviewers character.  Role play interviews are a good way to assess your interpersonal skills.



The majority of telephone interviews are actually screening interviews to ensure that the only candidates who make it to ‘formal’ interview are worth the investment of time from those involved.  These interviews rarely last more than 30 minutes.  It is essential to communicate clearly and show enthusiasm to stand a chance of being taken further.


Whatever style of interview you find yourself attending, remember that what you say is only half of what matters.  The way you present yourself and the rapport you have with your interviewer goes a long way.  


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