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What format do interviews take?


We discussed in an earlier blog the different “types” of interview that you may need to prepare for, but it is just as important to know that there are many “formats” that these interviews could take.

Here we take a look at some different interview formats, and what you can expect:

  • The competency or criteria-based interview – These interviews are designed to reflect the competencies or qualities required by the job, so the interviewers are looking for evidence of your skills and abilities with supporting statements drawn from real life work experience or achievements to date. These statements should either expand on, or be different from, those you have highlighted in your CV or supporting statement on your application form. Before the interview, it is a good idea to list the skills and experience needed from the job description or advertisement and accompany them with an example of how you meet each one of those criteria. Keep re-reading this list so it flows in the interview, you don’t need to quote in verbatim, just be aware that you can meet those criteria.


  • The technical interview – The position that you are being interviewed for may require some level of technical knowledge, if this is the case then it is likely you will also be asked technical questions as part of your competency based interview, or have a separate more technical interview with other interviewers. In this case, the questions asked will focus on real or hypothetical technical problems, where they will be looking at your thought process, logic and technical expertise.
  • The portfolio-based interview – For more creative sectors, such as media, design to web design, you may be asked to demonstrate your skills by bringing a portfolio of your work to the interview. It is a good idea to arrange your portfolio to highlight the work that is more suited to the position or organisation that you are interviewed for, and be prepared to answer “why” you have decide to include these pieces and bring them along to your interview.
  • The case study interview – These interviews are structured where you will be presented with a hypothetical or real business problem. We have seen telephone, and group interview type assessments take this format for more commonly customer service positions. Do not worry if you are unaware of the exact answer, the format of this interview is designed to measure your analysis of the problem, how you identify the key issues, how you pursue a particular line of thinking and how you organise your thoughts.

An employer may use various ways to assess you for a job, but be aware that interviews are a two-way discussion, delivering information about experiences and expectations. Ultimately, the interviewer needs to know how well you could carry out the job and how well you will fit in with their organisation, and you need to convince them that you are the solution to their recruitment situation. The better prepared you are, the greater level of success you are likely to achieve.

In our next blog entry we will be looking at tests that you may be asked to complete before or at your interview, and how best to prepare for those.

Don’t forget to take a look at the “Career Advice” section of our website that has a number of helpful guides to assist you, including “Interview Preparation, Planning & Technique”.

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