There are several interview types, and it’s important to understand the differences between each to help you structure your performance and maximise your chance of success.

Individual interview

It’s really important to make a good impression on your interviewers – you want them to remember you.

  • Be personable.
  • Be confident – this sounds easier said than done, but if you’ve prepared fully there’s no reason to doubt yourself. You’ve been invited to interview because your application was good enough, so use this time to shine!
  • Be honest. If you make big claims in your interview, they’re unlikely to sound real. If you’re untruthful, this could have major repercussions in the future. So, tell the truth, and share your honest opinions and experiences. You’ll seem much more genuine.

Competency-based interviews

Practise, practise, and practise some more!

Look at the competencies related to the job you are applying for and think about questions you are likely to be asked. Think through all your work and personal experiences and find the most relevant examples that showcase the skills and abilities required for the role. Many competency questions focus on the main skills an employer is looking for such as, time management, teamworking, and planning.

There are no trick questions – competency-based interviews are designed to create a best fit between an individual and the company.

Practise answering questions you think you may be asked using your personal examples, get a friend or family member involved to ask the questions, and give you feedback on your answers. Use a structured technique to help you remember the most important detail in your answers. Use real experiences to describe how your skills and attributes brought success at the highest level so that you provide a strong case for being highly employable.

The STAR technique is a good example of how to structure your answers:

S    Situation – set the scene, describe where, when, and who you were with

T    Task – what were you asked to do, with whom, and what challenges were you faced with?

A   Action – what did you do, in what order, and why? How did you know what action to take?

R    Result – what was the outcome, what was so good about the outcome, and how did you feel?

Examples of competency-based questions

  • Give me an example of how you’ve delivered outstanding customer service and what you feel are the most important skills you need to do this?
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve had to communicate complex information to colleagues in a simple and straightforward way?
  • Describe an occasion where you had to achieve a task within a short deadline. How did you plan your work and how did you meet the deadline?
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve dealt with an angry or distressed person. What skills and communication techniques did you use to bring calm to the situation?
  • Give me an example of a time where you had to think outside the box.

Be prepared to answer follow-up questions where interviewers feel you need to elaborate.

Marks usually range from 0 (no evidence provided) to five (comprehensive evidence), so it’s important that you include clear and detailed examples that can score highly.

Virtual and phone interviews

You might be in your home surrounded by your belongings, and possibly pets or kids, but it’s important to treat a virtual or phone interview as if it’s taking place face-to-face.

Being prepared and doing your research is key to any successful interview, but there are some particular things to think about if you’re being interviewed by phone or video. 

Top tips for virtual and phone interviews
  • Make sure your settings are all working before the interview. If you’re having a video interview, try making make a test call with a friend or family member to check your microphone and camera – you don’t want any embarrassing video filters turned on! If it’s a phone interview, check it’s taking calls properly.
  • If you’re having a video interview, remember to unmute your microphone, and make sure your video camera is turned on!
  • Find somewhere suitable to sit where you won’t be disturbed and you have a good WiFi connection, if needed.
  • Check what’s behind you for a video interview – you want your background to be giving the right impression!
  • Turn your phone notifications off – you don’t want any distractions to make you lose focus. 
  • Dress smartly, the same as you would for a face-to-face interview – it will help you feel professional and get in the right mindset. And no pyjama bottoms, in case you need to stand up for any reason!
  • Start the interview sounding friendly and positive – thank the interviewer for seeing you and introduce yourself.
  • Listen to the interviewer’s questions and wait until they’ve finished before you start giving your answer. It’s easy to talk over each other online or on the phone, and conversations get garbled, ending up with you both having to repeat what you said. 
  • Have the job details nearby so you can refer to them and sound informed about the role you’ve applied for. 
  • Smile, even in a phone interview! You’ll sound more confident and enthusiastic, and it’ll help you relax.
  • Be aware of your body language – try not to fidget, sit up straight, and take some deep breaths – this can really calm your nerves and help you feel more confident. 
  • Keep some notes nearby to use as a prompt if you need them! This could include questions to ask the interviewer so you don’t have to reply on remembering them.
  • You want to make a lasting impression – at the end, thank the interviewer for their time, make sure all your questions have been answered, restate your interest in the job, and ask if there’s anything more they need from you.
  • As with any other interview, if you feel uncomfortable you do not have to continue. If you are asked to record a video and send it to an interviewer, make sure you know who you’re sending it to and why.

Assessment day

The main purpose of an assessment day is to test your suitability for a job by getting you to do a combination of tasks and activities. You have the chance to demonstrate your skills in various situations which you might have to deal with in the job you are applying for.

Expect a combination of selection tools to be used during the day including:

  • psychometric tests
  • group exercises
  • role plays
  • one-to-one interviews
  • presentations
  • networking events e.g. lunch

Interviewers will be looking for key skills as well as the job competencies, and cultural fit for the company.

It’s essential that you research the company, its products and services, and any up to date news before the assessment day so that you are fully prepared to answer on the spot questions with confidence.

Assessment days are just as challenging as any other type of interview, so make sure you prepare thoroughly.

Group interview

These consist of several candidates being interviewed at the same time and will usually involve more than one interviewer – one to ask questions, and the others to observe and make notes. It’s an easy and cost-effective way for employers to recruit if there are several vacancies that need filling.

You will be observed, and compared with all other candidates, on your contribution and how you interact with others. It’s down to you to make a great first impression, use the group setting to highlight your natural presence, and stand out for all the right reasons.

Here are some tips on how to stand out in a group interview:

  • Make a positive entrance with a confident handshake and a smile.
  • If there’s an ice-breaker exercise, and you’re asked to work in a team to solve problems, take the opportunity to showcase yourself as a team player – a potential leader with great problem-solving skills.
  • Try not to dominate the group but invite others to contribute to discussions – this will reflect positively on your collaborative working style.
  • Listen when others speak and if you agree with the point they’re making, use it to build on what they say.
  • Don’t interrupt or talk over others, but make it clear that you want to contribute to the conversation. You’re more likely to be noticed if you work constructively within the group.
  • Finally, ensure you thank the interviewers before you leave, and it is courteous to send a follow up email or letter to thank them for the opportunity and their time.

What next?

We've got more information on how to prepare for an interview, and the types of interview questions you may be asked.