A job interview is a meeting organised by a recruiter used to evaluate a potential employee for prospective employment at a company. Job interviews typically precede a hiring decision and often form part of the assessment centre process. Most graduate job interviews last for about one hour, although telephone interviews and technical interviews are usually shorter.
What Happens at Job Interviews?
Job interviews are usually preceded by the evaluation of CVs submitted by candidates who have applied for a particular job role; recruiters/employers usually invite the best of these candidates to interview. The job interview is considered one of the most useful tools in evaluating potential employees.
Multiple rounds of job interviews may be used where there are many candidates in competition or the job in question is particularly challenging or desirable. Earlier interview rounds usually involve fewer and less important interviewers and will typically last for much less time and go into far less detail than final stage interviews.
A common initial job interview is the telephone interview. This type of interview is especially common when candidates do not live near an employer, or when an employer does not have sufficient resources to interview many candidates face-to-face. Telephone interviews have the advantage of keeping costs low for both employer and also candidate.
Once all candidates have been interviewed, the employer typically selects the most desirable candidate and begins the negotiation of a job offer.
Job Interview Preparation
It is very important to be well prepared for a job interview. A common reason employers give for not hiring candidates is the inability of candidates to fully explain the contents of his or her CV. It is very important that you are able to discuss every item listed on your CV, and if possible to give examples where appropriate. It is also wise to research the company you will be interviewing at, before your interview, as well as preparing for common interview questions.
Typical Job Interviews
A typical job interview involves a single candidate meeting with one, two or three current employers from a firm. Usually interviewers consist of: the potential supervisor of the employee, a member of the firm's Human Resources (HR) team and/or a partner from the firm.
Job interviews usually last from between 15 minutes to two hours. Most job interviews will feature questions about a candidate's work history, personality, work style and other factors relevant to the job. The candidate will usually be given a chance to ask any questions at the end of the interview. These questions are strongly encouraged since they allow the interviewee to acquire more information about the job and the company, but can also serve to demonstrate the candidate's interest in working for the company in question.
The primary purpose of the job interview is to assess the candidate's suitability for the job, although the candidate will also be assessing the corporate culture and demands of the job, and whether or not the company is right for them.
Candidates for lower paid and lower skilled positions tend to have much simpler job interviews than candidates for more prestigious positions (such as graduate jobs).
Usually, the larger the firm, the more intense the interview will tend to be. Candidates generally dress slightly better than they would for work for interviews.
Additionally, some professions have specific types of job interviews. For consultancy interviews, most candidates will be given a case study interviews. For IT and technical related roles, most candidates will be given a technical interviews.
At many companies, assessment days (also called assessment centres) are increasingly being used by employers, particularly for graduate positions. These extended assessments may include analysis tasks, group exercises, presentations and aptitude tests.
Why Job Interviews are so Important
A bad hiring decision can be immensely expensive for an employer. The costs associated with hiring a candidates, training, severance pay, loss of productivity, impact on morale, cost of re-hiring, and other factors can be very large.
Different Types of Job Interview
There are many different types of interview. Several of the most regular are detailed below:
Competency Based Interview
Competency based interviews (also known as behavioural interviews) are increasingly frequently used by employers. This type of interview is based on the notion that a job candidate's previous behaviours are the best indicators of potential future performance. In competency based interviews, the interviewer asks candidates to recall specific instances where they were faced with a set of circumstances, and how they reacted.
Typical competency based questions include::
- "Tell me about a time when you took the lead on a project. What did you do?"
- "Describe a time you had to work with someone you didn't like."
- "Give us an example of something particularly innovative that you have done that made a difference in the workplace."
- "What happened the last time you were late with a project?"
This kind of interview focuses on problem solving and creativity. The questions involved with this type of interview are used to discern your problem-solving skills and are likely to show your analytical ability and creativity.
Candidates may also be asked to deliver a presentation as part of the interview and assessment process. This is stressful and is therefore useful as a predictor of how the candidate will perform under similar circumstances on the job.
Job Interview Controversy
In many countries, employment laws forbid discrimination at interview, based on a number of issues, such as: race, gender, age, and marital status. Asking questions about these specific issues during a job interview is generally considered discriminatory, and constitutes an illegal hiring practice.
Unsuitable selection tool
There is growing information which infers job interviews are an ineffective means of selecting employees. Where the aim of a job interview is ostensibly to choose a candidate who will perform well in the job role, other methods of selection provide greater predictive power and often at a lower cost. Furthermore, most job interviews are highly unstructured and have almost no useful predictive power of employee success. They can also be biased, for example, a candidate interviewed later in the day may be judged more harshly by an interviewer than a candidate interviewed earlier in the morning - simply because the interviewer may become tired and less easily impressed during the course of an interview day.
Interviewers' opinions have also been shown to be effected by the attractiveness of candidates, and even by the colours of the clothing candidates' are wearing. Women who wear red have been shown to be assessed as "sexier" by interviewers, and consequently perform better at interview, than female candidates who wear other colours of clothing.
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