Personal interviews are a big part of recruitment processes in every industry. Whether you are a recent graduate or an experienced professional, interviews are still the preferred way of assessing your interests, abilities and goals.
You may face an interview as part of a college application, an internship, or a permanent position in a big firm. In every case, it is always smart to follow some general preparation advice, while also preparing according to the type of interview you are appearing for. Here are some of the most common types of interviews with tips on how to ace them.
Interviews held over the telephone are used very often nowadays, especially in the initial stages of recruitment. Candidates are usually quizzed about basics like educational qualifications, relevant work experience, what motivated them to apply for a program/job and salary expectations.
Telephone interviews save time and costs, and let companies filter potential candidates from a large pool of applicants at an early stage, before proceeding to further interview rounds. This is why performing well in a telephone interview can be crucial.
Tips to ace a telephone interview
- Clear and control your environment
Make sure you are in a quiet place with minimal chances of being interrupted. Avoid being in public places or around noisy people when your interview is scheduled.
- Stay calm while speaking
Since it is difficult to gauge things over the phone, you may feel nervous before or during the interview. Take a deep breath before you pick up and take your time in answering questions. Take care not to stammer or speak over the interviewer/s.
- Rehearse before the phone call
Along with preparing answers to expected questions, practise speaking them out loud and clearing any issues with your speech and articulation. If possible, record yourself speaking and find out how you might sound to your interviewer, and improve on it if required.
- Keep things handy
During a telephone interview, you might need to provide certain information on the spot, ask certain questions and/or take down notes. Thus, it is smart to have the phone call at a desk, with your laptop, notes and stationery near you. Fumbling for a pen and making your interviewer wait only makes you seem clumsy and unprepared.
- Pay attention to posture
Even if you are taking the phone call at home, make sure you are sitting up instead of lying down on the bed or lounging on a sofa. It can make a considerable difference in how you sound over the phone as well as how you feel during the interview.
Video interviews are a great way of connecting candidates and employers in remote locations. They are generally conducted online using video calling or conferencing applications like Skype.
Video interviews have become increasingly popular due to their convenience and ability to democratise hiring or admissions processes. People can now consider applying to faraway universities or companies without worrying about the costs and inconvenience of travelling for interviews.
Tips to ace a video interview
- Take care of logistics
Make sure you have a laptop or a desktop with a working webcam, a functional microphone and speaker setup, and a stable internet connection. Arrange and test these well in advance so you are not interrupted by hardware issues in the middle of the interview.
- Mind your surroundings
It is important to sit somewhere quiet and well-lit so that your interviewer/s can hear and see you clearly. If you have to be in a public place like a café or a library, choose a bright corner with no music, noise or people walking by.
- Shut off distractions
Do not let your focus shift from the interview at any point. Close any distracting browser tabs or apps on your computer, place your phone on silent and keep away small objects that you are likely to fidget with.
- Have important things at hand
If there are notes or documents which you need to refer to during the interview, keep them open on your computer or your desk. Similarly, if there is anything you need to demonstrate in real-time, keep it close so you don’t waste time.
- Be professional
Just because you do not have to step into an office for your interview, you should not take your appearance, posture and manners for granted. Dress in formals, maintain proper body language and behave just as you would in an office. Even trivial things like wearing a tie and having a formal Skype username can make a difference.
Panel interviews are a common type of interview where a group of members from an institution sit together to interview an applicant. They can be held for hiring new recruits, assessing research scholars, holding auditions, etc.
Panel interviews may feature people from within the institution as well as outside. The diversity of experiences and thought processes that a good panel brings to the table helps in evaluating a candidate thoroughly and reducing the risk of a biased or faulty hire.
Tips to ace a panel interview
- Find out about your interviewers
It may be useful to find out about potential interviewers from the university/company website. Take a look at their fields of interest and work to see how they align with yours, what they are likely to ask you about, and what you in turn can ask them.
- Do not be nervous
It is intimidating to sit and be asked a rapid slew of questions from a whole group of senior professionals in front of you. But remind yourself to stay as calm as possible and not let your anxiety show. Your interviewers are going to be as impressed with your confidence as your knowledge.
- Pay everyone attention
Panellists may vary in their behaviour towards you – someone may be very patient with you, someone may ask you tough questions, while another may just observe you silently. Do not let this affect your behaviour and develop a bias towards any of them. Address everyone on the panel equally during the course of your interview.
- Build a rapport
Do not limit your answer to just the person who has asked you a question. Find ways to connect it to follow-up questions posed by others or interest areas that other panellists have. If you manage to create a flow in conversation and engage as many of the interviewers at a time as possible, you are more likely to be remembered by all of them at the end.
- Practise well
An interview panel only means more scrutiny and less space to make errors. Cover all important and relevant topics and practise speaking about them in front of a group of people. It will make you aware of all that you need to know before the interview and how to present it to the panel during the interview.
A group interview is a type of interview where multiple candidates are interviewed together. Group interviews are similar to group discussions in the way that they require candidates to stand out and establish a strong personality.
Group interviews enable companies to save time while hiring as well as screen interviewees for desirable qualities like strong communication skills, teamwork and leadership skills. These can be particularly useful while hiring for positions like sales and management.
Tips to ace a group interview
- Know your topic well
Having clarity about the points of talking is a must during a group interview. Do not let yourself get distracted or nervous by other people speaking around you. Prepare well before the interview and form clear ideas so you can avoid digressing and wasting everyone’s time.
- Be vocal
Knowing your area well is of no use if you do not speak up. Answer questions clearly and loudly and make sure you are heard and understood well by both the interviewers and your fellow interviewees. Be confident while expressing yourself.
- Listen before speaking
Listen carefully to what others are saying during the interview. It will help you refer to them on the spot while making your points. Not only will that build a smarter and more spontaneous conversation, but also prove your skills as an excellent communicator.
- Be a team player
Create a positive environment by encouraging other interviewees to speak and acknowledging them. Do not interrupt anyone, make personal remarks or behave rudely in order to make yourself heard.
- Be a thorough professional
Mind your speech and body language during the interview. Your assertiveness should not come at the cost of your politeness. Use formal language and avoid aggressive gestures like pointing fingers or thumping tables.
Stress interviews, as the name suggests, are more difficult to tackle. During stress interviews, the candidate is tested rigorously by being subjected to a stressful situation on the spot.
These interviews are designed to assess how a candidate will behave and perform in jobs which involve multitasking, offensive interactions and extreme pressure. They usually involve intimidating interviewers, uncomfortable questions, aggressive or rude behaviour, unpredictable or negative responses and riddles or brainteasers.
Tips to ace a stress interview
- Prepare and practise
Nothing is a bigger boost to your confidence than knowing your subject matter and capabilities well. Prepare all topics and ask someone known to you to quiz you on all possible questions. This way you can enter the interview room with a firm conviction in yourself.
- Keep as calm as possible
Remember that the point is to test you in high-pressure or hostile situations. No matter how taken aback you are, keep your thought process clear and your behaviour steady. Maintain your composure and do not let them know you are scared.
- Take your time
Whether they are firing questions at you rapidly or posing impossible hypothetical situations, do not be in a hurry to answer them. Take time to comprehend the question, and ask your interviewers to clarify further, if possible. It will show your interviewers that you believe in good judgement and careful decision making even in tough times.
- Do not worry about right answers
The point of stress interviews is to judge your personality and problem-solving skills. Instead of rushing to arrive at a conclusion, focus on demonstrating your capability to process information quickly and systematically, while talking your way through a problem.
- Do not feel hurt
Remember the nature of the interview and do not let the questions or responses get to you. Remember that intimidating you is part of the process and none of the interviewers want to offend you personally.
Promotional interviews are a specific kind of interview which is held when someone is being considered for a promotion at their workplace. Organisations often open up senior positions for internal hiring, which require promotional or job promotion interviews.
Promotional interviews usually test your knowledge of the company, your capabilities and aspirations – more importantly, if your vision matches the company’s and your skills and abilities complement it.
Tips to ace a promotional interview
- Prepare in advance
It is important to keep an ear out and show interest in a promotion in front of seniors or hiring personnel. Be sure of yourself, apply early and start preparing for the interview.
- Let people know
It might be smart to let any direct seniors or supervisors know of your decision. Not only will that make your intentions clear, but also deter any friction that may appear later during the interview.
- Do not shift your focus
Continue paying attention to your current position and doing your job well. The success of a promotional interview may depend heavily on your behaviour and performance at work just before and after the interview.
- Highlight your strengths and aspirations
A promotional interview is held to gauge your capabilities of handling an increased workload or more diverse responsibilities. Make sure you express your interests and confidence in doing that. Also be clear about your personal and professional goals, along with a vision for your company.
- Be humble
Overconfidence can creep in anytime before, during or after the interview – and actually ruin your chances at landing the promotion. Do not behave like a know-it-all or act arrogantly. Express gratitude for the opportunity during the interview.
Exit interviews are conducted when an employee is leaving a company or has his/her employment terminated. The information received by exiting employees can provide insight into individual work experiences or reflect upon the company’s work environment and practices.
Exit interviews can be held in-person, over the phone or via survey forms. Although there is a lesser pressure to perform, the responses given in an exit interview are just as important with regard to maintaining a relationship with the company as well as helping it to improve as an organisation.
Tips to ace an exit interview
- Do not ignore it
Exit interviews may not seem useful to you but your feedback can be very valuable for the workplace you were a part of. Do not avoid appearing for it or giving your responses on time.
- Be honest
Your views and suggestions can make a lot of difference to how the company operates and treats employees who remain or join after you. Be truthful about your experience and do not fabricate facts or events.
- Provide constructive criticism
Exit interviews are an opportunity to give back to the institution. Make sure you make productive statements and provide feedback which can be used by the company to create and implement better norms and policies.
- Do not be petty
Even if you do not leave the company on good terms, do not behave bitterly or negatively. Refrain from personal attacks and offensive comments. Instead air your grievances as formally and politely as possible.
- Do not burn down bridges
Your colleagues and professional networks are valuable. Even if there is little chance of working with them again, it is advisable to not behave wildly and cut off all ties. Be a true professional and maintain a positive attitude towards the workplace even as you are leaving it.
In conclusion, interviews are a very crucial part of your career. Sometimes how you behave and act in an interview is much more important than the skills and degrees you possess. So, make sure you do prepare for your upcoming interviews.