Types of Interviews
You may be surprised to find out that there are many different types of interviews. Hiring staff is a tricky business for most companies, involving lots of time and money, so they want to be sure they've got it right.
In response to this, employers have developed various types of interviews, each with a specific purpose in mind - the bottom line for all these different types of interviews, however, is to try and reduce the risks in the hiring process and ensure that anyone they hire is going to fit in and be able to do a good job.
You may find that when you apply for a job, the company uses more than one of these different types of interviews to try and select the right people:
Competency based interviews: These are structured around the key competencies that the employer has identified as crucial for the job - if you have done your homework and read the job ad and person specification carefully, you should be ready for this. Questions will often ask you to talk about a time when you used the particular required skills in your previous work.
Technical interviews: These are used in jobs that require a high level of technical knowledge. Questions will be designed to test your knowledge - this may be part of a regular interview, or you may have a separate technical interview. You should be able to answer most of the questions, but also be prepared to admit to what you don't know.
Structured interviews: Some interviews are conducted in a very structured way, with the interviewer simply asking a set list of questions. These are typically first interviews, and are often conducted by HR departments rather than your potential supervisor.
Formal/informal interviews: You will also find a big difference in formality from one interview to another. Some are very formal, almost designed to intimidate, while others are more like a friendly chat. Don't relax too much, though - you are still being assessed.
Portfolio-based interviews: Many jobs in the arts, media or communications will focus on your portfolio of work. You need to be prepared to discuss the work you have chosen and what it represents.
Whatever the process, however it is conducted, the same rules apply. Be prepared, research the company, the industry, and if possible the people you will be meeting, and practice the sorts of questions you expect to get asked.