Adapting to different types of interview

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Understand types of interviews and how the STAR technique can help with answering common questions

This activity takes around 15-20 minutes and helps young people to recognise how and why employers hold different types of interviews, and how to prepare answers for common questions.

As the world of work changes, face-to-face interviews may be increasingly replaced with video or online assessments, as well as more creative approaches to finding the right candidate for the role.

Use the steps below to complete the activities with your young person, or they can use the worksheets provided for independent learning, where they will have the opportunity to identify different types of interviews, their purposes and ways they could prepare for them. They will also learn how to apply the STAR method to answer common interview questions in a clear and structured way.

Step one: What are the different types of interviews?

Explain to your young person that interviews are a two-way process where the employer and the applicant or candidate, the person applying for the job, can assess their match for one another. Employers can get to know the applicant’s personality, qualities and skills, while the applicant can find out more about the role and meet the person or people they may be working for. Interviews can take place in a range of ways to suit different situations, such as by telephone or video, and might include questions as well as tasks. Ask your young person to think about the different types of interviews they have heard of before. They can record their ideas on the worksheet.

Now read through together the following types of interviews and their definitions and discuss them using the questions below.

  • Why might this format be used?
  • Which skills does this type of interview allow an employer to assess?

Online test

  • Might be used to test specific abilities and/or judgement (e.g. driving theory test)
  • Employers can assess skills including digital, online communication and problem solving

Phone

  • Can be used to find out if you sound like a good match for the role before an invitation to meet face-to-face
  • You can ask any questions you may have about the employer or role
  • Employers can assess your confidence, verbal communication and listening skills

Face-to-face

  • Employers can get to know you in person and discuss your relevant skills and experiences
  • Might be used to assess your confidence, face-to-face communication skills and punctuality

Video

  • If the interview is in a different location, involves working remotely or from home, or you are unable to attend in person, a video call is a good replacement for a face-to-face interview
  • Video can be used to assess your confidence, face-to-face communication skills and to hear examples of key areas that are essential to the role (e.g. teamwork or problem solving)

Panel

  • Each person making up the panel could be assessing different things, and your role might link to each of theirs
  • Employers can evaluate how well you speak under pressure and to an audience

Group

  • Employers can discover stand-out candidates within a group or when hiring for multiple roles
  • Candidates may be asked to complete tasks rather than answer questions
  • Especially used to assess teamwork and leadership skills, as well as communication and problem solving

Click here to load our interactive tool where your young person can find out more about the different types of interview and assessments   

If you feel comfortable, discuss with your young person some of your own personal experiences with interviews using the prompts below:

  • The role you were interviewing for
  • How and where the interview took place
  • What you did to prepare
  • How you felt during the interview
  • Whether or not you were successful, what you learnt from the experience and what you might have done differently next time

Step two: Using the STAR model

Explain that although interviews can be stressful and nerve-wracking, by preparing and practising how to answer questions in a clear and precise manner they can improve their interview technique.

Show the STAR model (situation, task, actions, result) diagram below to your young person and explain that it is a useful way to approach interview questions because it helps you provide all the information an employer might be looking for in a clear, structured way. Go through each of the four points of the model and ask your young person to start thinking about how these may help when answering an interview question.

Discuss the example below which shows an answer to the common interview question, “Tell me about a time when you worked well as a team” using the STAR model.

  • Situation – I was recently given a task in school to work on a project together with some other students
  • Task – We had to create and advertise a perfume themed on ‘winter’, but there were too many ideas being put forward and we weren’t getting anywhere
  • Actions – To try and help the situation, I arranged an extra planning session to organise who would be responsible for what, and monitored everyone’s progress
  • Result – This was a successful session, and we achieved 350 votes in the final judging and the rest of group appreciated my organisational skills

Ask your young person to answer the question, “Tell me about a time you had to overcome a challenge and how you achieved this” following the STAR format using their own skills and experiences. They can record their suggestions on the worksheet. If needed, you can use one of the examples below as inspiration. Discuss how these might successfully demonstrate your skills to an employer in an interview.

  • Taking part in sport or after-school club
  • Creating an online video for a project
  • Starting a band or joining a choir

Discuss how the STAR model can be used to answer other common interview questions. Remind them to draw on past experiences to shape their answers.

  • Can you describe an activity or project where you had to take responsibility?
  • What are you most proud of that you have worked on in school/college/in a part-time or volunteering role?
  • Can you tell us about one of your biggest achievements?
  • Describe a time when you’ve had to deal with a difficult situation
  • Tell me about a time when you tried something in a different way to get the result you wanted

You could ask them to use these questions and answers to practice an interview scenario with you or with a friend via the telephone or online.