A Guide to In-Person Job Interviews

Briefcase and Laptop

In-person interviews come in many shapes and sizes, from the classic one-on-one to the increasingly common group interview. Each in-person interview requires you to show off your skills as a prospective employee, but you may want to prepare a bit differently depending on the type.

Tips for One-on-One Interviews

One-on-one interviews are often the second step in the job interview process after a phone or video interview. Typically, the interviewer will be a representative from the company who knows the position very well (often the hiring manager or someone from the HR department).

A one-on-one interview typically lasts between 40 and 60 minutes – it really depends on how many questions they want to ask. Questions tend to be either situational or behavioural, where the employer tries to assess how well you deal with specific challenges and opportunities. You can learn more about situational/behavioural questions by downloading the BCH Career Workbook.

A one-on-one interview is a great opportunity for you to brag about your work and skills! It’s always a great idea to bring a portfolio that showcases your best work/successes. If you’re not sure how to create one, speak to your Career Consultant for some ideas.

Many applicants find one-on-one interviews intimidating, so remember to breathe! It can be daunting because to prove yourself to the employer, but keep in mind that interviews are a two-way street! Part of your goal is to decide if the company and job are the right fit for you.

Tips for Panel Interviews

Let’s face it: panel interviews can feel overwhelming. There multiple interviewers – usually various members of the organization (a representative from HR, hiring manager, director, potential colleague) asking a variety of questions. So how do you deal with this type of interview?

  • Know who’s asking the questions by researching your panel to understand what areas of the business they come from. This will help you gauge what potential questions may come up. If the panel isn’t disclosed in advance, don’t hesitate to ask your contact (e.g., the job recruiter) to tell you more about who’s on the panel.
  • Address each member of the panel in your answers. Sure, one individual may be asking you the question, but the whole panel is listening to your answer. They’re also looking out for proper eye contact, positivity (smile!), and whether you’re fidgeting.
  • If you’re feeling like they’re shooting questions at you non-stop, don’t hesitate to take a moment to breathe and ask for few seconds to think. They will never say no! (Read my previous blog for info on how to deal with unanswerable interview questions.)
  • It’s also great to prepare questions to ask to each of the member. It shows you respect their business expertise, and are showing eagerness to learn more about what they do.

Tips for Group Interviews

Group interviews may feel like you’re in The Hunger Games fighting to the finish because you’re competing with other candidates for a single job. You will typically be seated in a circle so everyone can see each other. The employer will ask a question and then ask the group to give their answers. Some employers will have everyone go one by one (usually in smaller group interviews with 3–4 candidates), but typically they’re trying to see who will volunteer first.

With that, here’s a few tips:

  • Try to be the first to answer. If you need more time to think, that’s okay! Try to build your answer on other answers. It shows you’re listening, and that you’re willing to work as a team member.
  • Involve your competitors. Employers not only want to see who can stand out, but also who takes a leadership role in involving everyone (more so because the hard part is trying to be friendly to your competitors).
  • Speak with purpose. Sometimes it can be a bit hard to find your voice in a crowd, but take a second and gather yourself together to contribute to the conversation. For this, preparation in advance is key. Meet your with your career consultant to do a mock interview (it won’t be a group interview, but it will help you practice).

The Golden Rule of All Job Interviews

Here’s the golden rule for all interviews: make sure to follow up with the employer. Thank them for their time and the opportunity, and tell them you look forward to hearing from them soon. A well-written thank you note can help set you apart from the competition.

Best of luck!

The TRSM Business Career Hub offers lots of resources for job seekers. Visit their website to learn more.