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  • Sandra Laws - Career Coach

5 Common Interview Formats

When I started in my career, there was only one interview format: the one-to-one interview which very easy to prepare for. Today employers are using different types of interview formats to recruit the right candidates. Today, I am going to walk you through five common interviews formats. One of my clients asked me to cover this topic as she has recently received an invitation to an assessment centre interview. All the formats I will talk about today are all formal interview where you will be assessed against the key shortlisting criteria for the role.

One to One Interview

This interview usually involves a manager or head of department or a representative human resources This may be the second stage interview.

Panel Interview

The panel interview involves 3-5 people: hiring manager and supporting managers. This hiring manager usually takes the role of the chair for the interview panel. The chair will make the introductions and each panel member will ask you a series of questions. This format can be challenging for some candidates. It is important to relax and focus. Ensure that you make eye contact with all the members of the interview panel. Don’t focus on just one person or one the person asked you the question.

Telephone Interview

Large recruiters use the telephone interview as the first stage of the screening process.

Top Tips:

If stand up while you are speaking on the phone, your posture impacts on the tone and quality your voice. When standing, you are more likely to be breathing from your diaphragm. Your diaphragm supports your voice. When you breath using your diaphragm, this you to deliver clearer and stronger vocals. Singers generally stand when singing. A useful tip is to practice recording your voice from sitting and standing position.

When you smile while you are speaking on the phone, it will conveys more enthusiasm and confidence in your voice. Ensure that you are prepared: answer concise clear answers. You might find it useful to have some post-it notes near your phone, as a reminder for key points that you want to include in your answers.

Dress smart casual even though the recruiter cannot see you. The way you dress affects your mood and confidence. Avoid mumbling and speak clearly so that the interviewer can hear you.

Video Interview – Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype

The video interview format has become more common since the pandemic. Prior to pandemic, this format was used for candidates who were located in a different city or overseas. Prior to the interview, you will be sent a online link to access the video interview. Before the interview day, test the online link several times to ensure you can access the relevant webpage.

Top Tips:

Before the interview, test your computer equipment is in good working order: speaker, microphone and web camera. Ensure the background of your room is tidy and clean to project a professional image. Dress professional for the interview

Assessment Centre

An assessment centre is a recruitment selection process where the organisation typically assesses a group of candidates at the same time and place using a range of selection exercises. The duration of an assessment day can last between half a day to two days. This type of interview is frequently used by large organisations, government departments, graduate schemes, retail and hospitality roles.

The assessment day can involve the following tests:

Written tests

Group discussions


Psychometric tests

Role play

I have attended assessment centre days where there were up to forty candidates. The aim of the assessment day is for the employers to assess how you interact with others, problem solve and how you demonstrate your skills in a group setting. There will be several assessors who will evaluating how the candidates work together. The assessors be assigned to evaluate different groups and individuals throughout the day. There will be a combination of tasks, group exercises to solve a problem and interviews to assess your suitability for the role. You will be closely observed for the entire day. Be aware that your assessment will begin from the time you arrive at the reception desk and continue during lunch/coffee breaks throughout the day.

Before the group exercises begin, introduce yourself to each candidate in your assigned group. Volunteer for tasks and give suggestions. If you notice that quieter individuals of the group are not engaging, be the first to bring them into the conversation and ask them for ideas during the group tasks. It is important to give everyone an opportunity to speak

Stay focused on your performance throughout the assessment exercises. When I had attended assessment centre days, I found the experience to be a very competitive. At one assessment day, I recall there was candidate who dominated the group discussion and did not acknowledge ideas from other candidates. The group did eventually get back on track. Halfway through the group exercise, this domineering candidate became frustrated and stormed out of the room and slammed the door. There a few times during this assessment day that I felt like I was on the Apprentice reality show!

There you have it, some great tips on how to prepare for five different types of job interviews.

Quote of the Week

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it. Margaret Fuller

If you have been searching for a job for a while and have not had any success or you would like some support, book a free consultation, email

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