What to Expect at an Interview

Most applicants are rejected at the application stage of recruitment so, if you have been invited to an interview, you have already impressed the employer. You can be confident but should still prepare thoroughly for the interview to give yourself the best chance.

Remember: an interview is a two-way process. The interviewer decides which candidate is the most suitable and the interviewee has to decide if this organization is where they would like to work or study. This is why it is important for you to ask questions at the end of the interview.

The employer's perspective

The employer will be assessing:

  • your interest in the job
  • your suitability for the job
  • your knowledge of the organization.

The employer will want to find out:

  • why you are interested in this particular job
  • why you would like to work for their organization
  • more detail about the content of your resume or application
  • specific examples of relevant skills to demonstrate your suitability
  • your strengths and weaknesses
  • the relevance of your degree (if appropriate)
  • what you have gained from your work experience
  • your involvement and success in extra curricular activities

Interview formats

The format of an interview will vary according to the type of job and organisation, but you will usually be told in advance what to expect so you can prepare accordingly.

One to One

  • The interviewer could be someone from human resources or a departmental manager. He or she will probably make notes while listening to your answers.

Panel

  • A panel interview is usually made up of at least three interviewers representing different aspects of the organisation. Their job titles should give you an indication of the types of questions each of them will ask.
  • One member of the panel will explain the format of the interview and then you will be asked questions by each of them in turn, though one person may be there just to take notes.
  • Maintain eye contact with the person who is speaking to you but remember to glance at the others as well.

Informal / group discussion

  • Informal interviews may be used by the employer to give information about the organisation and allow candidates to ask questions.
  • You may be invited to an informal interview along with other candidates so it will be noted how you interact with them. You will be assessed individually, however, so you need to prepare as you would for a more formal interview.

Telephone

  • To save money, many employers use telephone interviews as an initial screening of applicants. Preparation is vital and you must make sure you will not be disturbed during the interview.
  • As there will be no visual clues about the interviewer’s response to your answers, active listening is especially important. Speak clearly and sound enthusiastic about the job and organization.
  • It is helpful to have a copy of your application in front of you and any notes you have made such as questions you would like to ask.