You just got the all-important phone call inviting you for the much-awaited interview. You are very excited and you are sure you will ace this interview. Better yet, you have done your homework and researched on common interview questions. What you don’t know, however, is that there are different types of interviews and you could face any of them.
Interviews have evolved over time because employers keep devising new strategies to get the best talent that the market has to offer. Often, the interviewer chooses a suitable type of interview based on their unique market or the kind of a candidate they are looking for. Whatever the case, you need to be prepared for any type of interview when you are sending out your CV, as most recruiters will not let you know the kind of interview they will use beforehand.
The face-to-face interview/ traditional interview
This is the most common type of interview and when you hear people talking about an interview, this is probably what comes to mind. It typically involves having a meeting with one person or 2 people from the specific department that needs a recruit, or the HR manager. This is a fairly simple interview and it is majorly about discussing your skills and qualifications in relation to the job.
How to win
Since it is a simple interview, all it takes is good preparation and a good understanding of your skills, and the company. You will need to understand what the job involves and how your skills fit in with the job. Revise common interview questions and how to answer them and you will be half-way through.
The panel interview
You may have seen such an interview in the selection for the Chief Justice and the deputy Chief Justice that took place in August 2016. It involves a group of people who are typically drawn from different departments that work closely, interviewing you. For example, if you are applying for the position of a marketing manager, the interview panel may comprise of the sales manager, the accounting manager, the CEO and the HR manager. This type of interview usually has a person who leads the interview, but it can feel like you are facing a firing squad. It is basically meant to reduce time wastage by bringing everyone together at the same time.
How to win
This can be a tough interview because usually, questions might come with no particular order and you need to be at your best. The trick is to stay alert and pay attention to how the questions are being asked. This gives you an idea of what skills the panel is looking for and you can align your skills and experience accordingly.
Consistency is also key so ensure that your answers to different questions show a pattern that lets the panel see who you are and what skills you can bring on board. Usually, this kind of interview has no time limit so take your time to answer the questions and if possible, try to have a conversation about your suitability for the job, as opposed to letting it be an interrogation as this can throw you off balance. This kind of interview has many follow up questions and as such, make sure you have your career story ready.
Another trick is to address the person asking you a question directly as you answer. This shows confidence and although it is hard to make a connection with all the interviewers, you just might be able to make a connection with one and this adds to your points.
The group interview
This one is common with graduate recruitment drives. It involves several candidates being put together and doing a common task together or being asked questions and answering them. The idea is to see how you fit within a group and how well you work with others. Most companies are putting an emphasis on teamwork and placing candidates in a group is meant to observe how individuals behave in a team setting.
How to win
This is not a competition. It is a chance for you to join forces with team members. Do not be dormant either as you will not be memorable. Make sure you engage other members of the team by giving them a chance to speak and backing up their points or disagreeing with them professionally.
For you to succeed, you need to be very attentive so that you do not repeat what has been said. Make sure you understand what others are saying so that you can either give a follow-up point or counter what has been said. The point is, be a team player. This way, you stand out and get a chance to sail through.
The case interview
This often comes as a follow-up interview after an initial screening. It can, however, be the first interview as well. In this interview, you are given a case study and asked to come up with a strategy or a solution to a problem.
This type of interview is commonly used in the field of consulting but it is increasingly being adopted by other industries. It is often done in a group setting because the point is to see how you can work in a team
How to win
The idea here is to show that you have good analytical skills. So, to ace this interview, engage the interviewer by asking questions. Then, structure your answers in such a way that you show a step by step approach when coming up with a solution to the problem.
The interviewer wants to see your thought process because the solution lies in the process as opposed to the final answer. The interviewer also wants to see how you process information and how you approach a problem. Remember, there are no clear right and wrong answers, rather, the process is what determines a proper or improper approach.
This is also a chance for interviewers to see whether you are keen on the industry’s trends. As such, embed industry-specific knowledge to the case you are solving. In a fast-changing world and with all the information you need readily availed to you on the internet, it is good to show that you read widely and you pay attention to trends that affect your job.
In the event that you are in a group setting, remember to implement the rules of a group interview.
The lunch interview
This is perhaps not a common type of interview but it is definitely being used and as the workplace changes, it might just become common. The purpose of this interview is for the employer to know a little bit more about you. It shows that the employer is really interested in you and would like to see how you behave in different situations. Here is where your interpersonal and communication skills are put under the microscope.
How to win
For starters, do not ask for meals whose names you have never heard of. This will only create an awkward situation. Order for those food items you are comfortable with. Additionally, this is a discussion more than it is an interrogation. Make it interactive and have a deep conversation about your skills and suitability for the job. This is because, as much as you have mastered your answers, it is hard to remember them well when you are eating so, let this take the form of a conversation.
Finally, remember to give the interviewer more attention than you are giving your food and by all means, please do not order alcoholic drinks. You do not want things to start going downhill courtesy of some alcohol in your system.
The telephone/Skype interview
The purpose of this interview is to screen you and see whether you are eligible for a subsequent interview. It is important to thoroughly prepare for the phone interview as much as you would a normal interview so that you can be invited for a face-to-face interview.
How to win
Of course, make sure you are in a quiet place and not in a matatu that is playing dancehall in full blast. For your own peace of mind, be in a comfortable place. Then, prepare by making notes. No one can see you so you can refer all you want and respond to the questions intelligently.
During the interview, do not be in a hurry to give your answers as you are not able to read the interviewer’s body language. There is no hurry here so take your time.
Then, you can use hand gestures to make this as natural as possible. This is because, you are definitely nervous and since you are not seeing the interviewer, you need to make it a little more comfortable for yourself. Adopt a natural way of talking because the interviewer can pick out panic in your voice.
For more technical positions, you are likely to be asked to present some evidence of your work; your portfolio. This is usually used in the case of design work where the interviewer wants to see just what you can do. Your interviewer wants to know that you can do what you claim to be able to do.
How to win
The most important thing is to be confident in your work. With technical work, you must show that you know what you are doing because in most cases, you will be given descriptive work and expected to deliver on what the client wants.
Additionally, you must be up to date with trends. As technology permeates every aspect of our lives, technical work is also being made easier, faster and more efficient by technology. As such, you must demonstrate that you are conversant with the latest technology and how to apply it.
In this interview, you should also speak about your strengths. In any technical work, a person has a strength that makes them stand out from the rest. It could be that you are the best in motion graphics or you are the best in certain aspects of web design, whatever the case, make sure you highlight this and let it be visible in your work.
The competency-based interview
This interview is usually applied for those positions that require very specific skills. These may be technical or soft skills but which are very crucial to the job. In this interview, the interviewer focuses on your skills and how well they can be used in carrying out your day-to-day duties. For example, an interviewer may ask you to demonstrate how you used a certain skill to solve a problem in your previous job.
How to win
The trick here is to have your career story in order. Be very specific about what exactly you have done, how you have done it and what you achieved in the end. It is important to ensure that you show just how practical your skill is.
Just like the case interview, the interviewer also wants to see how you go about solving problems and what your thought process is like. The interviewer may also be interested in seeing how you handle arising issues at work and as such, be confident in your skills and tell your story in detail. The idea is to indulge the interviewer and if possible, turn the interview into a discussion about your skills and suitability for the job.
The follow-up interview
You just went through a tough first interview and you are not so sure that you did your best. However, you are called for a second interview because this is how things are done around where you interviewed. It is now time to show that you are the best that there is and to clarify certain points.
How to win
The second interview shows that the interviewer was really impressed with you and would like to know more about you or might want a second opinion from a colleague. It could also mean that the interviewers were undecided and want to interview you a second time to see if you are really suitable for the position.
By this time, you are already familiar with some of the questions you may be asked and you already know about the company so polish up your answers. This is the time to shine. If you were not so sure about something in the first interview, do your research and make sure that you are well informed.
Also, make sure that you stay consistent. This is a follow-up interview or an opportunity for the interviewer to dig deeper so, let your story flow and this time round, include some hard facts. For example, you can say that as the marketing officer of company X, you have seen client interest in your products go up by 30% due to a sustained online marketing campaign. This solidifies your position and demonstrates your ability to get the job done.
This is used in situations where the competition is very high and the interviewer wants to observe how fast you can think and how your thinking process is like. The interviewer also wants to see how well you can handle pressure and difficult situations.
How to win
The trick here is to calm down and think in a step by step approach. It is important to ensure that you understand what the interviewer is looking for and giving your answer in a creative and thought-provoking manner. Take your time to analyse the question before answering and indulge the interviewer in the process. You can ask for additional information or make the interviewer part of the thinking process.
In conclusion, interviews have evolved over time and you might find yourself in an interview situation that you have never encountered before. Employers use different types of interviews to try and get the most qualified candidate for the job. Before going for an interview, do your research and be ready to answer the questions in any format.
We wish you well.