35 Interview

Congratulations, your resume, cover letter, and job search strategy worked! You’ve landed a job interview. You’re excited, and maybe even a little nervous, as you ask yourself, now what? How do I ensure I have the best possible chance of coming out ahead of my competitors?

This section will provide you with a thorough understanding of what you need to know at every stage of the interview process. We will explain the different types of interview formats and provide you with sample questions and answers that will be crucial in increasing your chances of securing your next job. Remember that the interview is a chance for the employer to learn more about you, your skills, and your experiences, but it is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company and whether or not this opportunity will be a good match for your current goals and future career aspirations.

There are two major categories that employers are looking to evaluate in a candidate during an interview.

  • Qualifications: Do you have the required credentials, skills, and abilities in order to perform the job?
  • Personal and career fit: Do your personal qualities, attributes, and career goals match with what the company is seeking?

Types of Interviews

Many different types of interviews are being used in today’s job market. Understanding the most common interview formats will help you better manage your expectations and prepare.

  • Structured or formal: This type of interview is very common and is used as a standardized method of comparing multiple candidates. The candidate is invited to attend a face-to-face meeting with the hiring personnel. In this format, an employer develops questions that will help assess the skills and experiences they are seeking to fulfill the requirements of the position. Many employers will have a rubric or scoring system for each question. A score is given based on the appropriateness of the candidates’ answers and then these scores are compared as a method of determining the most suitable candidate.
    • Panel: In a panel interview, a group of interviewers, typically two to five people from various positions and roles in the company, will take turns asking questions to one candidate. By having multiple opinions involved in the hiring decision, the employer will have a broader, more objective viewpoint when making a decision on which candidate will be most suitable. During your interview, it is important to engage all of the panelists, therefore, as you answer each question, ensure that you are shifting your eye contact to address each one of them.
    • Group: Often the group interview is used in order for an organization to save on time and resources by screening a larger number of candidates at the same time. The structure of a group interview may look different from employer to employer, but typically includes a series of questions to observe how candidates communicate, interact with people, and react under pressure.
  • Unstructured or informal: This type of interview is more casual, and may have some prepared questions, but is typically less structured. The questions may be determined or changed depending on the candidate’s responses or the direction of the conversation. In this method, the candidate can discuss their skills and qualifications more openly, emphasizing what they feel is important.
  • Prescreening, video, or telephone: In an attempt to narrow the candidate pool, a telephone or video interview may be used for initial screening purposes. This interview format may also be used to interview candidates who don’t reside in the same area. When taking part in a video or telephone interview, always remember to ensure your technologies are working and are charged in advance. Remove any distractions from the background. Dress and prepare as you would for an in-person interview.
    Preparation is essential to being successful in the interview process. Your research will show the interview committee your initiative, interest, motivation, and resourcefulness.
  • Performance, testing, or presentation: This type of interview can be arranged during a separate time or as part of a face-to-face interview. During this time, an interviewer asks the candidate to perform specified tasks related to the job within a limited timeframe. Employers cannot always make a hiring decision solely based on interview performance, therefore, depending on the job requirements, they may decide to test an individual’s ability as part of the hiring process. For example, for an administrative assistant position, you may be tested on your ability to use Microsoft Excel, for a hairdressing position you may be asked to perform a haircut, or for a teacher you may be asked to give a presentation.
Unless otherwise indicated, this chapter is an adaptation of Be the Boss of Your Career: A Complete Guide for Students & Grads by Lindsay Bortot and Employment Support Centre, Algonquin College, and is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International license.

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