Types of Graduate Job Interview

Types of job interviews include one-to-one interviews, behavioural interviews, group interviews, panel interviews, phone interviews, second interviews, and lunch interviews.

While a great CV and cover letter will give you a better opportunity of securing employment, they will not secure you a job on their own.

The interview stage is there so you back up in person everything that the employer has read about you on paper.

It is also your chance to show an employer what kind of employee you will be should they decide to hire you. That is why it is essential to be well prepared for the job interview.

This will probably be your first direct contact with the company and will give you an insight into how it works and the chance to meet with its employees to see if it is a place that you would enjoy working  should they offer you the position.

There are several forms of interview with varying degrees of formality, but generally they consist of a question and answer based conversation, allowing the employer to get to know you and for you to see what they are like.

Whilst interviews can be daunting experiences, you should remember that the interviewer is only human and it is possible that they are nervous also. Be confident, friendly and open, and most importantly – try to be yourself!

Here's the lowdown on the most common job interview types you are likely to come across.

1. One-on-one interview

To get to this stage you would have succeeded in qualifying the preliminary screening processes.

The selection process will have been narrowed down and the company has recognised you as an attractive candidate.

Usually this interview will be carried out by a department supervisor but sometimes with human resources personnel or administrator.

Be prepared to talk about yourself in detail, why you want the job, and what you can contribute to the company.

Before the interview, carry out research into what the company do so that you know how to relate your answers with the kind of things they'll be looking for, and so you can think of some questions you want to ask.

Remember that you want them to want you on their team, and therefore you have to impress them with your personality, qualifications, skills and career goals.

Dress conservatively to impress and be sure to arrive punctually.
Be friendly whilst maintaining plenty of eye contact. Attempt to establish an understanding with the interviewer.

2. Lunch interview

An interview over lunch will be more casual than if it was held in an office; however, this does not mean you should let your guard down.

Make things less stressful by not ordering messy food (such as spaghetti) and order something that is a similar price to the interviewers.

The decision whether to smoke or drink alcohol should be based upon the location and what the interviewer is doing.

Follow the lead of the interviewer in behaviour, tone and ordering. Do not be extravagant or capricious.

3. Screening interview

This consists of a brief meeting with the company, used by them to weed out under-qualified and uninterested candidates.

Screening interviews occur if there are a large number of job applicants, however on the whole candidates are rarely asked to attend them. Interviewers are usually human resource personnel and the format is usually straight questions and answers.

Confirm to the interviewer what they have already read in your CV, and do not deviate from the truth, as this can catch you up later on! Providing facts is more important than building a relationship.

4. Telephone interview

Sometimes if a candidate lives a long distance from the offices of the employer then it may not be practical to attend preliminary interviews in person.

In this case an interview may be conducted over the telephone.

Alternatively, some companies use telephone interviews as a screening process to eliminate the weaker candidates early on in the selection process.

If you are invited for a telephone interview, you should not treat it as an easy option.

You should conduct yourself in the same professional manner as you would in a standard interview and therefore, the same rules apply. The only difference is that your body language no longer applies.

Do not let the interviewer totally lead or dominate the conversation, and try to avoid long pauses other than when you're thinking of an answer to a question.

If appropriate, aim to arrange a face to face meeting. For example, you could say "I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in person so we can both better evaluate each other. I am free either Monday afternoon or Thursday morning. Which would be more convenient for you?"

Speak in a clear voice, answer the interviewers questions concisely and try to elaborate without waffling. Try to come across as calm and professional.

5. Group interview

Group interviews are often used to introduce the company and describe the job to an assembled audience of candidates.

As this form of interview is not one-on-one there is not so much pressure on each candidate, however the aim is to stand out from the crowd and be noticed.

It is likely you will be asked to take part in some small group activities.

Hopefully you will be remembered if you manage to stand out, and invited back for a full interview.

It’s important you find out about the company in advance so you can ask relevant questions. In group activities, try to demonstrate both leadership and understanding.

It’s worth speaking to company personnel afterwards in an attempt to establish a brief rapport.

6. Panel interview

Companies use this method when hiring for advanced positions or if they are just feeling they want to be difficult and make candidates sweat.

During panel interviews, candidates are questioned by several company personnel at once.

This can be daunting, but try to stay calm and keep your cool.

Try to impress all of the interviewers by giving them equal attention, and do not cater to just what one or two want to hear.

When an interviewer addresses you with a question, respond to the person that asked that question, while being conscious of how the others will interpret what you are saying.

Also, make eye contact with the other interviewers when answering a question, not just at the one who asked you the question.

Testing your nerves

Interviewers may try to test your nerves and see how you cope under pressure.

The interview may start out in a relaxed manner with a few standard questions being put to you, then the interviewer may change tack and launch into a more aggressive line of questioning, for example "So you only got a third class degree, what makes you think you have the knowledge to fit in at our company?"

They may also ask you one or two difficult questions to see how well you can think on your feet.

You should prepare yourself for this sort of behaviour, and when it comes you should not take it personally. Remember to stay calm, take your time with your answers, speak clearly and be honest.

Further information

For more tips and advice on graduate jobs, please see: