Seen these icons?

If we have events, jobs or news that are relevant to the page topic, you can access them by clicking on icons next to the print button.

Types of Interview | Types of Interview – Oxford University Careers Service
Oxford logo
Competency interviews

This tends to be the most common interview. Questions asked are structured to reflect the competencies sought by an employer for a particular job. You should be able to find out which competencies the employer is most interested in by looking at the recruitment pages of their website. The job description usually includes a ‘person specification’ or ‘essential selection criteria’, which will list quite clearly the competencies required – the skills, experience, knowledge and other attributes that the organisation is looking for.

For example, the employer may be looking for someone with organisational skills, and may choose to ask you a series of questions designed to steadily probe not only your experience in this area, but your understanding of the skills involved. The questions may follow a pattern such as:

  • Would you describe yourself as an organised person?
  • How have you demonstrated organisational skills? What did you do? What would you do differently next time?
  • What makes a good organiser?
  • Why are organisational skills important?
  • Surely … (the interviewer challenges something you say in order to find out more)…?

Try to talk about a range of situations you have been in during your interview which demonstrate your breadth of experience and evidence different competencies. You might find the S.T.A.R acronym useful – Situation, Task, Action, Result – when you are answering questions, see our page on how to show you fit the job criteria for more information.

Technical interviews

These are used by engineering, scientific, IT, financial services and management consultancy firms.  They will test that you have the technical knowledge needed for the job. Questions may focus on your final-year project and why you are approaching it as you are, or on real or hypothetical technical problems. You will be expected to know general themes/theory, and you should be prepared to admit if you do not know the answer. Employers can tell when you are bluffing and will be just as interested in your thought process and logic.

Academic interviews

For academic job interviews, large panels are common.  For post doc jobs four interviewers would be typical, but there can be up to ten or more interviewers for permanent lectureships or fellowships. Interviewers may be academics from your discipline but also from other departments, and from Human Resources.  Try to find out who will be interviewing you so that you can research their interests.  You may also have a number of ‘informal’ one-to-one interviews before or after your main panel interview from a number of academics.  Treat these as part of the interview process but also see it as a chance to learn more about the department and job.

To prepare for the interview, review the criteria and think about how you can evidence that you meet each criterion.  Try to talk to others who have experienced academic interviews and arrange to practice with your supervisor, a colleague or a careers adviser.

Some general questions to prepare for:

  • What attracts you to this position?
  • What were the key achievements of your most recent research project?
  • How does your research fit with the department’s research objectives?
  • What opportunities for multi-disciplinary work does your research offer?
  • Does your research have any potential to serve the wider community and how do you propose to measure impact?
  • What are your plans for future research and how do you propose to fund it?
  • What research support do you expect from the institution?
  • What do you think makes a good supervisor?
  • How does your teaching experience fit you for this post?
  • What courses can you teach and develop?
  • How can you contribute to administration in the department?

If you have been invited to interview for a lectureship you will likely be asked to give a short presentation on your research, or a mock lecture for students.  Here are some general tips for preparing:

  • Keep to the brief you are given and ask if you are unsure – e.g. timing, audience, topics
  • Anticipate your audience – try to find out as much as possible who will be present and their interests
  • Practice with colleagues and invite questions/constructive criticism
  • Have a clear structure and make sure you have enough detail
  • Engage the audience with regular eye contact
  • Use audio-visual equipment if appropriate and make sure to test any movie files etc. beforehand
  • Consider taking prepared handouts for the audience
  • Invite questions
  • Thank your audience
Other types

Strengths based interviews

This type of interview is increasingly being used at professional services and finance organisations such as EY, Morgan Stanley and Barclays as they understand that employees will perform best when using their individual strengths. They aim to get the best out of you by focusing on your natural aptitude, what you enjoy doing and what engages you. As defined by EY a strength is ‘an activity carried out on a regular basis, that is performed well and energises the individual doing so’.

In this type of interview, interviewers will ask a wide range of questions to get a good feel of your personal abilities and will be looking not only at what you say but also how you say it; to see if your tone, body language and expression demonstrate a genuine motivation.

They may ask questions such as:

  • When are you at your best?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you do well?
  • What do you love to do in your spare time?
  • How do you feel when working on a disorganised project? What do you do in situations like this?
  • How do you ensure you maximise your time to achieve your goals and targets?
  • Suppose you were trying to achieve a goal but kept encountering unexpected setbacks along the way. What would you do? How do you feel in these situations?

In order to prepare you will need to think about your personal achievements academically, professionally and in an extra-curricular capacity. What have you done that you particularly enjoyed – why did you enjoy it? Also, as with all interviews think about the organisation and the role you are interviewing for: does it allow you to use your strengths and natural talents?

A good place to find out more about Strengths based recruitment is the EY webpage on Your Strengths

Chronological interviews

These interviews will take you chronologically through your life to date, and are likely to use your CV or completed application form as a basis. You may be expected to talk about anything that you have mentioned in your application, why you have made certain decisions, what achievement has given you the greatest satisfaction or what skills you have developed in particular positions for example.

Case study interviews

See our separate page on case study style interviews, used particularly for consulting firms.

Portfolio-based interviews

If you are interviewing for a creative role and you have enough experience to create a portfolio of your work, you may be asked to bring it with you to the interview, and to have an in-depth discussion about the pieces you have chosen to include.

Group interviews

This is where several candidates are present and will be asked questions in turn. A group discussion may be encouraged and you may be invited to put questions to the other candidates. For further advice on group activities or exercises, please read our Information Sheet on Assessment Centres.

Sequential interviews

These are several interviews in turn, with a different interviewer each time. Usually, each interviewer asks questions to test different sets of competencies. However, you may find yourself answering the same questions over and over. If this does happen, make sure you answer each one as fully and enthusiastically as the time before.

This information was last updated on 09 November 2015.
Loading... Please wait
Recent blogs about Types of Interview

Springboard Applications Deadline: don’t delay!!

Blogged by Employer Relations Team on February 12, 2016.

Apply by 23rd February to take part in this phenomenal programme for women!

Boost your confidence and reach your aspirations. Learn how to create opportunities and situations that enable you to manage the future that you want.  By becoming a participant on the Springboard programme for undergraduate women or female Masters students, you will have the opportunity to become more confident and adept at recognising, creating and making the most of the choices you have at University and beyond.

Feedback from previous participants:

“The Springboard Programme has been one of the best things I have done at Oxford. I met amazing women, learnt a huge amount and have never felt more supported and encouraged to grow, not just in terms in terms of careers but also as a person”

“When coming to university it is easy to feel lost and undervalued, Springboard reminded me what my values are and gave me the confidence to achieve them.”

‘I’ve learned that I should never take a second position when I can take the first. Men are trained to step up and women to step down. I want to step up’

‘A unique opportunity to take a step back and look at yourself, what’s really important and how you can achieve it”

Apply now!

 Applications close February 23rd 2016. See the Springboard webpage  for further information, or log into CareerConnect and search for “Springboard” in the “skills” section.

The Springboard programme is generously sponsored by RBS, Oliver Wyman, Shell, Improbable and Blackstone.

Internships for Computer Science, Maths and Engineering students

Blogged by Sara Bram on February 12, 2016.

There’s just over a week left to apply for international internships through the Oxford University Internship Programme. If you need help deciding which to go for, we’ll be highlighting interesting placements in different sectors throughout the week. Today: placements in Computing, Maths and Engineering. This is just a small selection for you to get an idea of what’s out there – there are lots more summer internships in the arts (and many other sectors!) on CareerConnect.

Please note that the deadline for international opportunities is the 21st February and that UK internships open for applications on the 22nd February, so you won’t be able to see the UK placements listed here on CareerConnect just yet.

Sign up for internship alerts if you’d like to be reminded of deadlines, updates and when new placements are released.

DEADLINE for Remaining Micro-internships this Sunday!

Posted on behalf of The Internship Office. Blogged by Andrew Laithwaite on February 12, 2016.

A reminder that the application deadline for this term’s remaining micro-internship placements is midnight this Sunday.

All vacancies can be found and applied to on CareerConnect. The application process is easy, and only requires you to submit a single document containing a 300 word personal statement accompanied by a one-page CV.

The following vacancies are still available:

  • Community Voice on Planning – the voluntary organization seeks two micro-interns to produce a marketing plan, and recommend a strategy for youth engagement. These projects will have an impact on the wider goal of advocating community influence over government policy on land use.
  • Help Me I’m A Medic – the award-winning social enterprise provides students wishing to enter the healthcare sector with relevant, up-to-date advice and work experience contacts, regardless of their social background. Applicants are free to choose a project to work on as part of a large team of eight interns, from sales and marketing to project management and e-content editing.
  • Bodleian Libraries (Legal Deposit UK Web Archive project) – an exciting opportunity to work in the Bodleian’s Department of Special Collections on a key web archiving project. Especially relevant to those interested in archiving, curation, and/or academic research with primary sources.
  • Home-Start Oxford – Home-Start supports families with at least one child under the age of five, irrespective of socioeconomic background. An opportunity is available for an Oxford student to carry out a comprehensive website review, and build experience with online marketing. If there is time, the intern will suggest alternative structure and content for the website.
  • OUSU RAG – Raise and Give (RAG) is OUSU’s student-led fundraising body, and is recruiting a team of eight interns to work together to produce a competitive bid for OUSU RAG to host the 2017 National RAG Conference. This is an ambitious project, which will provide interns with the opportunity to gain demonstrable experience in event planning, marketing, commercial sponsorship, logistical planning and research.
  • Savills Urban Design – Savills Urban Design provides urban design and masterplanning advisory services to a wide range of public and private sector clients. Savills has a number of projects open to be tackled by an intern with a background in architecture or urban design, including detailed work on residential schemes, and land promotional work.
  • University of Oxford Medical Alumni – the oldest and largest of the University alumni groups with 17,500 alumni across the world, Oxford Medical Alumni is looking for an intern to assist with the creation of a yearbook marking an important reunion. An opportunity to gain valuable experience relevant to both publishing and public relations.
  • University of Oxford IT services (Survey Research project / Test Automation project / WebLearn project) – there are a number of projects available with the University’s IT Services, including the development of Test Automation scripts, webpage development, and research into survey use. Each of these is a great opportunity for any student with a strong interest in IT who is seeking to develop their related experience.
  • Wolvercote Young People’s Club – Wolvercote Young People’s Club (WYPC) provides a safe, fun place for the young people of North Oxford and the surrounding areas. The organization is looking for an intern to produce a lively and informative report for its AGM in May, using data about the use of the Club and the activities it runs, as well as interviewing a small number of young people and staff to add their voices to the report. An opportunity of particular relevance to any seeking to use and develop journalistic skills.

Take a look at the sector breakdown of micro-internship opportunities if you would like to see which of the available opportunities would be most relevant to your sectors of interest (please note that many of the opportunities featured on this table are no longer available).

For any queries about the programme, please see the Micro-Internship Programme webpage or email micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk.

Internships in Education

Blogged by Sara Bram on February 12, 2016.

There’s just over a week left to apply for international internships through the Oxford University Internship Programme. If you need help deciding which to go for, we’ll be highlighting interesting placements in different sectors throughout the week. If you’re interested in a career in Education, have a look at the teaching opportunities available to teach in India, China, Brazil and more. This is just a small selection for you to get an idea of what’s out there – there are lots more summer internships in the arts (and many other sectors!) on CareerConnect.

Please note that the deadline for international opportunities is the 21st February and that UK internships open for applications on the 22nd February, so you won’t be able to see the UK placements listed here on CareerConnect just yet.

Sign up for internship alerts if you’d like to be reminded of deadlines, updates and when new placements are released.

OUIP International Internships: Just over a week to apply!

Blogged by Rachel Ruscombe-King on February 11, 2016.

A huge variety of global internships is on offer exclusively to Oxford students through the Internship Programme. The application deadline is coming soon: midnight Sunday February 21st. Opportunities range from museum curation in St Petersburg, to environmental research in Brazil, international development in Kenya, and management consultancy in Hong Kong.

All internships are listed on CareerConnect, and applications are made directly through the system. Students can apply for up to three international vacancies, and two in the UK batch which will be listed from February 22nd onwards. More international internships will also be added from March 14th, at which point an unlimited number of additional applciations can be made.

For help with any OUIP internship applications students can come to a drop-in session to get one to one support. Stay up to date by signing up for Internship Office email alerts – our internships in the UK will be made available as soon as applications for international internships close…

This page displays current related blog posts. If none display, you can still stay up-to-date with our newsletter sent regularly to all Oxford students.

Older posts can be found in our archive of past blogs.