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The interview is a core part of the recruitment process for all organisations and is a two-way exchange between you and each interviewer. Interviewers assess your suitability for the role by asking questions which give you the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities and personality. In turn you can ask questions of your interviewers and assess whether the organisation and job is the right match for you.
Informal interviews are often used as the first part of a multi-stage recruitment process. For less senior jobs this may be the only selection method used. The format tends to be a general chat about you and your interests. Be aware that it is still an assessment of you. In structured interviews, all candidates are asked the same set of questions in a structured format. Typically they begin with a brief chronological review of your overall career to date.
Competency/criteria-based interviews - these are structured to reflect the competencies or qualities required by the job. The interviewers are looking for evidence of your skills and abilities and expect you to support your answers with examples of your experience from your life to date.
Technical interviews - if you have applied for a job that requires technical knowledge, it is likely that you will be asked technical questions or have a separate technical interview. Questions may focus on your final year project or on real or hypothetical technical problems. Don’t worry if you don’t know the exact answer - interviewers are interested in your thought process and logic.
Portfolio-based interviews - if the role is within the creative, media or communications sectors, you may be asked to bring a portfolio of your work to the interview and to have an in-depth discussion about the pieces you have chosen to include.
Case study interviews - in these you may be presented with a hypothetical or real business problem. You will be evaluated on your analysis of the problem, how you identify the key issues, how you pursue a particular line of thinking and how you organise your thoughts.
Specific types of interview
Some recruiters use a single interview to decide whether to hire you. Many will use a sequence of interviews to inform their decision. In sequential interviews you will be interviewed by a number of different interviewers or panels in turn. You may find that the questions asked get more difficult each time. Alternatively you may be interviewed by a more senior member of the organisation each time or be asked about a different set of competencies. Answer every question fully even if you feel you have been asked it previously.
Face-to-face interviews - this is the most common method. One interviewer or two or a panel of interviewers will conduct the interview. The one-to-one method is the least preferred due to ethical issues around equality and transparency but is sometimes used for informal pre-screening interviews as part of a multi-stage recruitment process. Two person interviews ideally have an interviewer of each gender. Panel interviews generally contain a spread of gender and expertise and are often chaired by the person to whom you will report, should you get the job.
Group interviews - several candidates are present and will be asked questions in turn by two or more interviewers. A group discussion around a specific topic may be encouraged and you may be invited to put questions to the other candidates and/or to the panel.
Telephone interviews - telephone interviews are increasingly used by companies as part of the recruitment process, often at an early stage of selection, especially by overseas recruiters. Prepare in the same way that you would for a face-to-face interview. Make sure you choose a suitable time and date, in a place where you will be free to chat in a quiet place without any interruptions. Make sure your mobile is charged if you are using it. Remember to keep any necessary documents, like your CV and the job advert, to hand throughout the phone call.
Employers are noting your level of professionalism at each stage of the recruitment process. Use a formal style for every communication whether it’s an email, letter or telephone call. It is courteous to respond in a timely manner to offers of an interview and job offers, even if you have decided not to accept. Even more importantly, demonstrating total professionalism leaves the employer with a good memory of you - essential should you decide to apply for any future position with them.
Written by Jill Barrett, Dublin Insitute of Technology
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