What is an interview? An interview is at the most fundamental level, a meeting between strangers. It is worth bearing this in mind at all times when you are preparing for an interview. You have a very limited amount of time to make a good impression, so preparation is key. An interview should be a two way process, but in reality, particularly early on in your career, it can often feel that all the power is in the hands of the interviewer. It can feel like you, as the candidate, are being judged and weighed in the balance, whereas an interview really should be a two way process. You need to be sure the job and the organisation is right for you too. Thinking about an interview like this may help reduce the fear factor. It is true to say that most people get nervous at interviews and find them pretty stressful, however many you have attended, but, by finding out a little more and being better prepared, it is possible to improve your confidence levels and interview performance markedly.
What is the purpose of an interview?
The interviewer will certainly be looking to find out whether you have the potential to do the job effectively and make a useful contribution to the department and the organisation. At its simplest level, this means they will be asking:
- Can you do the job? (Skills, attributes, knowledge, experience, understanding)
- Will you do the job? (Enthusiasm, commitment, loyalty)
- Will you fit in? (Personality, attitude, approach, good fit with company ethos, values and the existing team)
You should be asking yourself similar questions. Is the job at the right level for you? Is it too challenging or not challenging enough? No one expects you to be able to do the job expertly from day one, by the way, but you need to be confident that with a proper induction and some training, you will be able to make a valuable contribution.
You need to ask yourself if you are excited and pleased at the prospect of working for this organisation, in this job. You must also ask yourself if you identify with the mission statement of the organisation, its values and the way it goes about its business. Finally, what’s in it for you? Would this be a good next step in your career?
Different types of interview formats
Interviews may be structured in different ways. At some point, though, whatever has gone before, you will in most cases find yourself being formally interviewed face to face by one, two, or in some cases, several interviewers at the same time.
Below are some possible interview formats. You should be told exactly what to expect, but if you are in any doubt, contact the organisation and find out.