Sitting down for a placement interview is stressful enough, but interviews can take many forms nowadays. Knowing what to expect and how to respond can make all the difference in this hyper-competitive job market.
Once you learn what kind of interview is the most common, it becomes significantly easier to prepare. On the other hand, going in with little preparation or idea of what to expect is a surefire way to run into problems.
Here are the most common types of hiring and placement interviews and what you need to know to succeed, along with common interview questions. Keep reading to equip yourself with all the knowledge you need to nail the interview and land your most coveted job.
What Are the Different Types of Interviews?
Placement interviews can take many forms, depending on the job, industry, and organization. Here are the different types:
A traditional interview is a face-to-face discussion, usually conducted one-to-one. Traditional interviews usually last between a half-hour and an hour-and-a-half and follow a question-answer format.
Panel interviews are similar to traditional ones, with one major difference: you'll face a group of interviewers rather than just one.
Using more than one interviewer limits the chances of a bad hire caused by a single person having an off day, misunderstanding your response, or showing an implicit bias.
Panel interviews have become much more common but are typically reserved for higher-level appointments.
Remote interviews have gained popularity with the introduction of better technology, but there are often different purposes behind them.
Phone interviews are typically for the first stage of the screening, so don't expect to be given a job outright after one of them. Usually, HR workers or assistants conduct phone interviews. They will review numerous candidates to determine who can progress to the next round of interviews.
Video interviewers tend to be a little more advanced in the process and can take the place of a face-to-face interview if the latter isn't possible. However, it's not unheard of for them to appear during the early screening stage.
Serial interviews usually involve the candidate receiving a block of time filled with several individual interviews conducted by different people. For example, you might have a 2-4:30 pm slot, during which you’ll go through five separate half-hour interviews.
The serial format can be stressful, and in a way, that's the point. They are designed to keep a candidate on their toes and test their response times and ability to think quickly. Like panel interviews, they also minimize the risk of a bad hire by distributing the screening among several people.
Critical Behavioral Interviewing (CBI) goes much deeper than traditional interviews by examining a candidate's response to several behavioral-based questions. Usually, these focus on past employment practices.
The interviewer wants to see how a candidate thinks and behaves when confronted with certain situations, such as a difficult period at work or when you had to deal with a problematic client or team member.
Candidates can prepare for behavioral questions using the STAR method to structure their response: Situation, Task, Action, Results.
Case interviews have emerged over the last couple of decades. These might be part of a traditional interview or standalone questions that present the candidate with a problem or scenario related to the industry or position.
Applicants may have to solve the problem or explain what steps they would take in such a scenario and why. In case interviews, the interviewer isn't necessarily looking for the ‘right answer’ but instead wants to see the processes and thinking behind it.
Which Type of Interview Is the Most Common?
There have been many significant changes to the interviewing process as companies seek to refine hiring practices and better understand candidates before making their final decision. Elements such as case and behavioral interviews have certainly changed things, but the most common type of interview remains the traditional one-to-one approach.
However, even here, there have been significant alterations over time. An organization may combine multiple interview methods, such as using the traditional format but asking behavioral questions related to past performance or case-specific questions to test the applicant’s abilities with a particular task.
Besides the hybridization of interviews, there is also the matter of whether organizations use a structured or unstructured approach. A structured approach establishes standardized questions for all candidates, while an unstructured interview allows the interviewer to ask and pursue any line of questioning they desire.
Panel Interview Procedure
Sitting down for your first panel interview can be a nervous experience. One interviewer is often bad enough, let alone three facing you from the other side of the table.
However, panel interviews don’t have to be as intimidating as they seem, especially if you understand the procedure. Panels usually contain at least three interviews but can have as many as five. The critical point to remember here is that you can only answer one question, and one person, at a time.
Panel interview procedures tend to vary depending on the industry. Corporate panels often involve a candidate receiving a list of questions that they then have a short period to answer, followed by case studies or scenarios, which each panelist will rank.
Academic panels often use ‘blind’ interviews in which the panelists have not had the opportunity to review a candidate beforehand. They grade the candidates on various characteristics during the process, such as critical thinking, maturity, and oral expression.
4 Common Interview Questions
You may not be able to anticipate the interview format, but you can prepare for the questions. Here are the most common interview questions:
1. Tell Us About Yourself and Your Background?
Probably the most common starter question in an interview. The interviewer is looking for a brief overview. This is your time to make an elevator pitch about your qualifications.
Don’t give an overly long response. Think ahead about what to include and what to leave out. Keep it limited to education, work background, and enough personal information to give yourself a little color.
2. What Made You Apply for This Position?
This question aims to see what, if any, background research the candidate has done on the company. Don't simply say, ‘because it’s a great company.' Dig further and explain what values or accomplishments have drawn you to this organization.
3. What Are Your Strengths/Weaknesses?
This question is very common, and someone will most likely ask it eventually. The key is to try and come across honestly without sounding contrived. Strengths are much easier to discuss but don’t shy away from addressing your weaknesses. Show some vulnerability and explain how you successfully overcame a weakness in the past and became a better person for it.
4. Why Should We Hire You?
This interview classic can make or break the whole process. You need to be confident but not overly arrogant in your praise of yourself. Think carefully about what you could bring to the team and why you think it would be a mistake even to consider hiring anybody else.
Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but they needn't be that way. By preparing for any interview style, you can give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.
Interviews are just one step in a long process that hopefully leads to the right candidate getting the job. At Scout Logic, we are proud to be an integral part of the system, offering quick and easy background checks for recruiters across various industries.