Interviews come a range of different forms—from a phone interview through to full day affairs. It’s important to be prepared accordingly.
Typically, phone interviews or coffee meetings are used only in the first one or two interviews. A more formal discussion will then take place (assuming the first interviews are successful!).
Levels of interview
Most professional roles require several stages of interview. These typically follow a pattern. From the employer’s perspective (and assuming success at each level):
Level 1: Check the candidate out against the CV, and assess cultural fit with the employer
Level 2: Detailed assessment of the candidate, or some particular capabilities or concerns from the first interview. Depending on the type of role, this also may require you to make a presentation or demonstration of your skills—with impromptu or with offline preparation time allowed
Level 3: Psychometric testing (but not always applied). It’s worth taking a look at some standard methods such as Myer-Briggs, DISC, etc., but most employers and recruitement agents use their own variants. Case studies are also used to assess your abilities in judgment and when under pressure.
Level 4: (and possibly also levels 5 and 6): Further interviews by senior employer staff—similar to level 2
Final level: Offer and negotiation (negotiation may be done via the recruitment agent)
At all stages, it’s essential that you remember that the interview process is just as much for you to find out if the role is right for you as it is for the employer to find out if you’re suitable. So stay objective and clear about what you’re looking for. Note any aspect that you’re unsure about, and get clarification.
Some special points about phone interviews. It’s easy to pass these off as simply being conversations, however the other party is forming a make or break opinion of you, based on everything from your tone of voice through to the way you sign-off the call. Also, phone interviews can occur with no notice. If you’re unprepared (or in an awkward spot), it is perfectly fine to ask for a small postponement so that you can properly carry out the conversation.
An advantage with phone interviews is that you can make easy reference to your notes, CV, and even e-mail. A disadvantage is that you must rely upon only verbal cues from the interviewer.
Remember, your goal of the phone interview is to get a face-to-face interview. So make sure that you manage the close accordingly.