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Interview Format

Tips for different types of interview

There are several different types of interview. Knowing which format your interview will take will help you to prepare properly. Other than a standard one on one interview, the following are the most common:


These are typically used for initial screening purposes. They allow employers to make an initial assessment of each shortlisted candidate without spending too much time. They sometimes also offer you a brief opportunity to find out a little more about the role, though this is not always the case. Either way, you should always treat a telephone interview seriously and professionally otherwise you may not get the chance to advance to a face to face interview. A few helpful tips are:

  • Make sure if using a mobile that you are in a good reception area.
  • Make sure you have a quiet place where you can interview without interruptions.
  • Always have your CV to hand. You may well need to refer to it.
  • Have a pen and paper ready, you may need to write information down.
  • Sit up or stand; your voice will reflect your posture and you want to come across as alert and positive.
  • Have a drink nearby to avoid a dry mouth.


In a group interview you will be interviewed at the same time as other candidates all applying for the same position. This allows the interviewers to watch how applicants interact with each other. When taking part in group interviews it's vital you are seen as an active participant rather than merely an observer:

  • Give your views and ideas but also listen to the other applicants.
  • Avoid dominating the discussion.
  • Don’t interrupt the other applicants.

Above all remember, you could be the best person for the role but if you don’t get involved, you will go unnoticed and won’t make it through to the next stage.


A panel interview usually involves three or more members of the company all interviewing you in one meeting. Each member of the panel will usually come with their own agenda and will ask their own set of questions to assess your performance in different ways. If they didn’t have an important input into the end decision, they wouldn’t be there, so it's vital you treat each of them equally; don't be tempted to focus just on your potential manager. When talking with an interview panel, you should focus first on the person who asked a specific question but try to make eye contact with each person regularly.

Technical Interviews

A technical interview will include questions specific to the role you have applied for. Relevant technical knowledge is obviously very important in this type of interview. Hopefully you will already have the required level of knowledge you need to pass the interview. However taking the time to revise and refresh your memory on old or rusty topics will obviously help. You should also understand that interviewers will likely want to see how you approach and solve problems and the thought processes behind your decisions.

Competency-Based Interviews

Competency-based interviews test specifically for one or more defined competencies. You should use examples from your past experience to demonstrate you possess those desired skills and competencies.

Examples of typical questions are:

  • Could you tell me about a time when you have delivered beyond the expectations of your manager?
  • Can you think of a situation where you disagreed on a major issue with your manager and tell us how you managed it.
  • Can you give me an example of a time where you have developed strategic plans for a unit or department?
  • Tell us about an occasion when you needed to gain the support of others to secure the right outcome?

These questions are best answered using the: Situation, Task, Action, Result methodology outlined in "be prepared for your interview".

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