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Interview Preparation

The selection process for a job will usually involve an interview - it may even include more than one interview. 

Prepare for interviews with interview training practice here

You may be new to interviews, or perhaps it's been a while since you've had an interview, but if you want to be successful, it's useful have a clear understanding of the different types of interviews used and what is expected of you during each of them.

Interviews can range from one-to-one conversations, to sit down meetings with the company's HR Manager, or informal informational and group interviews. Interviews are increasingly structured to look for particular competencies based on the selection criteria specified for a particular job.

In this section we outline the various interview types that you are likely to encounter. There are certain similarities between all of them, but the key things to remember are:

  • Anticipate the questions
  • Develop your answers and
  • Practice makes perfect

The pointers given here are simply guidelines - you need to adapt them to yourself so you can avoid giving the potential employer the same answers as everybody else. Whatever the interview style, remember at all times - you’re here to sell yourself, your qualifications and your skills.

Screening Interviews

Screening interviews are about narrowing down the competition. The process is used to eliminate job seekers based on standard requirements such as experience, education and skill sets. In a big company, a Human Resources professional will typically do the screening stage interviews.  The interviewer is checking that you are a serious applicant and they will look for any employment gaps and inconsistent information.  

Telephone Interview

Initial screening interviews may also be done over the telephone. It's important to prepare for a telephone interview the same as you would for a face-to-face interview. 

Because you cannot see the interviewer, the impact you make will come through your voice. Aim to sound as enthusiastic and animated as possible. Telephone interviews can make it easier to hide nervousness and appear more relaxed. 

Preparation and Interview Tips

At the screening stage, be prepared for topics such as:

  • Why this company?
  • Why this particular job role?
  • What do you have to offer?

 For telephone screening:

  • Ensure you have a suitable environment free of distractions, where you won't be disturbed 
  • Have your CV and/or completed job application to hand
  • Practise before the phonecall and prepare your opening lines
  • You may find it helps to change into 'interview clothes' to get you into a business-like mindset.

Second Interview

This will be more formal and more detailed than a first interview and is usually face-to-face. It may be part of a broader process lasting from a few hours, to a day or more, involving tests and assessment centres [see links on this page]. Advance notice will always be given of what the process entails.

Preparation and Interview Tips

  • Be prepared for more in-depth questions - these may be about yourself (Strengths or Weaknesses), about your application (Background, Training, Experience), about your knowledge of the company (What do you know about ABC Ltd? Are you familiar with our products/services/market?)
  • Have your revision and background research done - good answers should be at least 30 seconds, unless you are asked a closed question that requires a simple yes or no answer.
  • Be prepared to elaborate on your answer if you are asked to say more in response to a particular question
  • If you are asked a question that you don't understand, get clarification from the interviewer
  • Be honest - if you don't know the answer, don't waffle
  • Create a good impression by having some questions prepared to ask the interviewer - these should be intelligent questions and definitely not questions syou should already know the answer to! Go for questions about the business,  training and development opportunities or career progression.

Technical Interview

This type of interview is designed to test any specialist knowledge required for the job. You may be shown a piece of equipment and asked to demonstrate how it works, or be given a piece of computer code to explain.  

Preparation and Interview Tips

  • Revisit your application and be able to talk freely about any technical aspects of it, including any relevant course subjects studied
  • Bring along any examples of project work undertaken that show off your technical knowledge
  • Practise any particular skills that are stated requirements for the job that you may be asked to demonstrate
  • If you ae given a technical task, ask for clarification on anything that is unclear to you. It is better to ask questions than to do something incorrectly because you were confused about the directions

Group Interview

In a group interview situation you will be with other candidates for the job. This is a chance to set yourself apart from the group - to demonstrate your particular skills, for example: leadership potential, communication skills, or how well you work with others.

This interview is often a challenge put to the group i.e. to solve a problem as a group and to work together as a team to solve the problem. This allows those interviewing to determine if you are reserved, pushy or have a balance between offering and listening to ideas.

This can be a difficult interview. It is easy to get lost in the rest of the faces.

Preparation and Interview Tips

  • Speak to everybody in the group with respect, regardless of how much they are contributing to the cause.
  • Always be polite even if other people are not.
  • Do your best to avoid power struggles. They will only result in the interviewers forming a negative opinion about you, perhaps one of childishness and inexperience.

Panel Interview

A panel interview will have two or more people asking the interview questions. The panel will typically be a mixture of representative of the organisation i.e. a Personnel Specialist, a Technical Specialist and a Line Manager.

Panel interviews are often easier than one-to-one interviews. They can be fairer too, as they don’t depend on one person’s opinion.

During the course of a panel interview each panel member may ask questions around a particular theme (generally their own area of interest/expertise). It may also be the case that different people ask you questions without an obvious logical sequence.

Preparation and Interview Tips

  • Where possible, try to find out in advance who will be on the panel and their particular role in the organisation. This can help to inform how you answer their individual questions
  • Give your attention to whoever is speaking and when answering a question, direct your response to the person who asked the question, but give occassional glances to the other panel members
  • Don't be thrown off if one of the interviewe panel starts scribbling notes or looks bored. Panel members who are not from the HR department may not be experienced interviewers
  • You may be asked the same question twice. This may be a mistake, where someone wasn't paying attention, so just answer the question again, referencing your first answer if you wish. It may also be an effort to get you to expand on your first answer, or on details in you application or CV

Behavioural Interview

A typical interview discusses your skill set and how it fits with the job at hand. A behavioural interview examines your previous behaviour as a way of indicating future performance.

You may have heard such questions as, "describe a past work experience where you had to use problem-solving, adaptability or leadership". The interviewers are looking for detailed information on how you have dealt with past experiences.

Preparation and Interview Tips

  • Prior to a behavioural interview, review your CV and your application and generate as many scenarios as possible based on the information in your interview
  • Practice describing the scenarios and aim to keep them short and concise

 "Remember -you’re here to sell yourself, your qualifications and your skills".


Use Time Wisely


Time can be your friend or your enemy. Show respect for your time as well as everyone else's. Using time well shows responsibility.