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What are the main types of job interviews?

There are a number of different types of job interview. In some cases, you’ll only need to succeed at one of these to land the role. In others, particularly at large graduate employers, you may face several interview formats throughout the application process.

Face-to face – this is still the most common form of interview. You’ll attend the employer’s office and be questioned on your suitability for the job by an individual or panel. Face-to-face interviews usually last between 45 minutes and two hours, and may be preceded or followed by tests and exercises. The questions may be strengths-based or competency-based.

Telephone – most often used by employers early in the application process to filter large numbers of applicants down to a more manageable number. If you’re successful you’ll typically be invited to a face-to-face interview or assessment centre. Telephone interviews typically last around 30-45 minutes.

Video – Zoom and Microsoft Teams are very popular, particularly for applications to graduate schemes. Video interviews can be live or pre-recorded, and will tend to last around half an hour.

Assessment centres enable employers to compare the performance of a number of candidates at the same time. Assessment tasks can include presentations, team exercises and psychometric tests. Assessment centres usually last a full working day.

How to do your interview research?

Your performance in an interview depends, to a significant extent, on how well you prepare. Don’t leave this until the last minute. In the days leading up to the interview, focus your research on the:


Employer/the business – you need to demonstrate that you understand the business beyond the basics. What challenges does it face? Who are its competitors? What major projects has it recently completed? What are its culture and values? This kind of knowledge shows a genuine interest.

Interview panel – try to find out who will be interviewing you. Use LinkedIn and the ‘About us’ section of the company website to find out more about their professional interests and experience. This may help you to connect with your interviewers and build rapport quickly.

Role – read the job description again and, if you completed an application form, go over it to refresh your memory of how your skills and qualifications match the role you’re applying for. Be clear on the role and also why the employer should choose you.

Questions – you should consider how you’ll answer common interview questions, as well as preparing some questions you’d like to ask the interviewer.


Following your interview – Follow Up!

As your interview comes to an end, make sure you find out when you’ll be informed of the outcome – and thank the interviewer for giving you the chance to attend.

Make some notes about the questions that were asked and how you answered them while the interview is still fresh in your memory. This will help you prepare even better for any future interviews. Make sure you send a follow up email to your interviewer within 24 hours after your interview.

Example Interview Questions – Matrix

The Royal Aeronautical Society’s Example Interview Question Matrix has been designed to help you prepare. There is a selection of questions around your company research, how you make your career choices, your soft skills, strengths and weaknesses with links to the key areas that the question is probing. The matrix has space for you to write some some possible answers and if you need any further help and advice, the document can be used as a starting point for discussion with our careers team.

To access the matrix, please click here.

Top ways to make a great impression

Some of the best techniques to make sure you make a great first impression:

Punctuality – arriving late will increase your stress levels and give the employer a bad first impression, so do your best to arrive in good time.

Body language – give a firm handshake to your interviewer(s) before and after the session. Throughout the interview, remember to smile frequently and retain eye contact.

Positivity and enthusiasm – be polite and professional with any staff you meet before or after the interview and, if you’re feeling particularly nervous, remind yourself that the very worst thing that could happen is not getting the job. During the interview, respond to questions in a positive and enthusiastic manner and avoid badmouthing your previous employers.

Clarity – answer all questions clearly and concisely, evidencing your most relevant skills, experiences and achievements. It’s perfectly fine to pause before answering a difficult question to give yourself thinking time, or asking for clarification if you’re unsure what a question means.

More help with job applications

For more help with making applications, why not visit our pages on CVs, Writing Compelling Covering Letters, Soft Skills and Online Application Forms. Royal Aeronautical Society members can also access our online career management platform, Career Flightpath, with free to use, tools and e-learning courses – click here to start exploring.


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