Common interview types and how to prepare for them.


Common interview types and how to prepare for them.

500 333 Brenda Akinyi

The interview process is constantly evolving and employers are coming up with new ways of assessing a potential hire’s ability before bringing them on board.  This has also become increasingly important to the organization given how expensive the cost of a wrong hire can be to them. As you seek out new opportunities, you need to be prepared for various types of interviews that you may encounter while on the job hunt.

In this blog, we highlight the different interview types you are likely to encounter and how you can prepare and ace them. Read on to learn more.

Screening Interviews

Typically the first interview in a recruitment process, recruiters often use this method to screen and evaluate whether applicants meet the basic requirements. They can be either in-person, phone or video interviews. Communication is largely visual in case of in-person or video interviews, however, with phone interviews, it is critical to have positive and sharp answers ready and deliver them with enthusiasm.

💡Here are some questions you can expect during a screening interview and what a good answer looks like.  A few things to keep in mind with screening interviews:

  • Take this as seriously as you would an in-person interview – one of the ways recruiters narrow down on the most suitable candidates is through initial screening interviews hence you need to bring your A-game.
  • Ensure you are in a place where you can speak comfortably; don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter or interviewer to reschedule the call if the proposed time will not work for you.
  • Review the job description and be prepared to show how and why you are a fit for the organization. Be sure to show how your experience ties into the role requirements.

Panel Interviews

This interview typically consists of two or more people from different departments in the organization. For an organization, they use this as an opportunity to see how you will perform in a group setting, and how you react in high-stress situations. Panel interviews are preferred based on the notion that interviewers are able to get a more accurate assessment of an applicant’s fit for a position and improve the efficiency of the hiring process by saving time.

💡Here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  • If you can, find out who will be on the panel and look them up on LinkedIn This helps you familiarize yourself with who will be interviewing you and may make it easy for you to break the ice when you first interact with them.
  • Remember to address each panellist by their names and engage all of them equally. Each member in the room has a say in the final hiring decision hence be careful not to be dismissive of any member.
  • Bring extra copies of your CV and hand them out to each panellist.
  • Ensure you have questions of your own. Research the organization as well as your role to come up with questions that can help you dig deeper into how the organization operates and what would be expected of you.

Interview questions in this type of setting will include both general and behavioural questions. Check out a few of the questions you can expect and how to answer them.

Group Interviews

Depending on the nature of the role, some organizations will take candidates through a group interview. These are common with entry-level positions and where an organization needs to hire multiple people for the same function/role. Some of the instances where you might encounter group interviews include graduate recruitment programs and some entry-level positions that may involve mass hiring.

💡A few tips to keep in mind should you be invited to a group interview include:

  • Prepare your introduction in advance.
  • Engage with all team members involved in the process. Remember a key success metric for the interviewer is determining how you would handle yourself in a collaborative environment. Avoid trying to outshine everyone as this might come off as aggressive.
  • Answer questions in a confident manner and be yourself.

Behavioural Interviews

It is a popular way in which employers assess candidates based on their past behaviour. The theory being that past behaviour in a similar situation is the best predictor of future performance. This type of interview focuses less on hypothetical questions and more around situational questions. Interviewers will use these questions to get to know you better, hence there aren’t exactly any right answers. The key to acing such an interview is preparation and knowing how to structure your responses.

💡Pro tip

Behavioural interviews will require you to share specific examples of situations you’ve been in that required you to use certain skills. Your answers should show evidence of how you’ve handled issues in the past and what value you brought to the situation at hand.

Here’s a sample question and response structure using the STAR method:

‘Tell me about the most difficult problem you’ve overcome in the last year’

  • Situation: Earlier this year, I was working on one of my firm’s largest clients.
  • Task: Two days before our big year-end review meeting, I discovered that we were analyzing data from two years back. I had to decide what to do about it. If we didn’t fix it, it could have put our whole contract at risk.
  • Action: I quickly set out to make sure my seniors were aware of the problem and presented a plan of action that would allow us to correct the mistakes before our meeting.  I had to recruit my colleagues to work late nights to get it all done.
  • Results: We were able to re-run our analysis and present the correct report to the clients.  After the meeting, they renewed our contract.  The whole team went out to celebrate.  I learned the value of double-checking your work, and of teamwork during challenging times.

As you prepare for different interview formats that you may encounter, don’t forget the basics of interviewing. Take time to remind yourself of the basics of interviewing that you need to apply regardless of the situation. Here’s our guide on how to prepare before the interview, how to act during the interview and how to ace your post-interview follow up.


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