Types of Interview

Interviews for graduate jobs can vary in type depending on a range of factors including the stage of the recruitment process, size and type of organisation and the nature of the role. No matter the format, good preparation is the key to success.

First and second interviews

Some organisations only conduct one interview but for others a first interview acts as part of the screening process and some applicants will not make it through to the next stage. The first interview could, but not necessarily, be conducted via telephone or by a Recruitment Consultant.

Second interviews are used to:

  • differentiate between the highest performing candidates
  • ask candidates more technical and job specific questions
  • enable a greater range of existing staff members to be involved in the process
  • introduce you to the work environment and team

Prior to a second interview you should:

  • reflect on your performance in the first interview and identify areas where you need to improve
  • revisit your research on the company and the sector

Sequential interviews

Some organisations may interview you more than once on the same day. Be aware that:

  • you may be interviewed by more senior members of staff as the day progresses
  • each interview may focus on different areas e.g. competencies, technical knowledge and commercial awareness

One to one interviews

A one to one interview takes place between the candidate and the interviewer. It may feel less formal than a panel format but, as with any interview, preparation is important. This style of interview is most common for:

  • part time work
  • voluntary work
  • jobs at small businesses
  • placement interviews
  • interviews for postgraduate study

Additional things to consider include:

  • research the interviewer - you need to impress them as the decision is entirely theirs
  • dress and act formally

Panel interviews

Most large organisations and graduate employers interview by panel and would use assessors who have different roles within the business. The panel would normally consist of your prospective line manager, someone from Human Resources and a senior manager or someone with a technical specialism linked to the job. Panel interviews may seem daunting but they are much fairer as decisions are made jointly by a range of interested parties. When being interviewed by a panel:

  • direct your answer toward the person who asked the question but make brief eye contact with each panel member
  • try to remember each persons' name and their role
  • expect panel members to take notes and to be more engaged with the questions related to their specific role

Competency-based interviews

Competency based interviews focus on specific competencies which the employer seeks. On the basis that past behaviour is a good indicator of future behaviour, employers will ask you to demonstrate these competencies by relating your experience to the situations they describe. In advance of these interviews it is essential that you have identified strong examples to use within your answers. If the organisation does not supply you with a list of competencies you should use the job advert or person specification to anticipate what they might be. When providing your answer use the STAR technique - Situation Task Action Result. 

Strength-based interviews

This type of interview is fairly new and has developed because some large graduate employers feel that interviewees are too well rehearsed in giving competency-based answers. The strength-based interview concentrates not on what you can do, but on what you enjoy doing and aims to identify the authentic you. By finding out what your innate strengths are, an organisation can best see if, and where, you will fit. It is difficult to fully prepare for this type of interview but you should consider the following:

  • reflect on your natural abilities and what motivates you and how this could relate to the organisation, role and what they're looking for
  • be ready for a wider range of questions asked at a quicker pace
  • be honest - there's not necessarily a right or wrong answer

Telephone interviews

Telephone interviews are increasingly popular and are often used to:

  • screen out candidates at an early stage
  • conduct a follow up or final stage interview
  • interview candidates from wide geographical areas

The questions in a telephone interview are often exactly the same as in a face-to-face format and you should prepare in the same way. Additional things to consider include:

  • make sure you have a quiet space to take the call
  • have your notes nearby but try and keep them organised (no paper shuffling!)
  • avoid long silences and use active listening skills - words are all you have!
  • consider dressing formally - it will put you in the right frame of mind

Skype/Video interviews

Skype interviews, like telephone interviews, are increasingly popular. They are cost and time efficient and remove geographical barriers for candidates. Alongside your normal preparation you should:

  • check your technology in advance
  • choose a suitable room - think about background distractions
  • dress as you would for a face to face interview
  • look at the camera, not at your screen
  • make sure you have full contact details in case you are cut off and need to reconnect
Last modified: 
Thursday, February 27, 2020 - 16:33