What are interview tasks and how can you prepare for them?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Attending a job interview usually involves answering questions about your experience and skills, but often interviews also include additional tasks. These tasks help interviewers to better understand your practical abilities. Interviews might include various types of tasks, and knowing how to prepare in advance improves your chances of success. In this article, we discuss interview tasks in further detail, including what they are and how to prepare for different tasks.

What are interview tasks?

Interview tasks are instructional tests you complete as part of a job interview. Such tasks are usually an extra proficiency after answering questions in an interview scenario. You may complete tasks group interviews, one-to-one interviews or both. Recruiters usually include these tasks in interviews to help them assess the candidates' practical skills. It also makes it easier to compare the candidates to each other directly.

This helps recruiters to identify the most suitable candidate for the job. The tasks that might be part of your interview depend on the type of job you're applying for. Not every organisation uses additional tasks in interviews. Tasks that are commonly part of the interview process include:

  • presentations

  • group activities

  • written tests

  • exercises

  • typing tests

Related: Common types of interview formats and styles (with tips)

Types of interview tasks and how to prepare for them

It's advisable to prepare carefully for tasks in an interview in the same way you prepare for answering interview questions. Employers often indicate in advance the type of tasks there are to complete in your interview. This makes it easier for you to prepare appropriately. The most suitable strategies to use depend on the type of task you're doing. Review the details of the interview carefully so you understand what to expect. If the interviewer isn't specific about the type of tasks you're doing, find out what tasks are more common for the job and industry.

These are some ways to prepare for some of the most common tasks in job interviews:

Presentations

Some interviews require you to give a presentation on a subject that varies depending on the job and employer. The employer usually gives you guidance on what the presentation has to include and its duration. Addressing the subject directly is vital. Ensure that you do enough research to make your presentation interesting and informative. It's also wise to practice your presentation to develop your confidence and ensure that it's of the right length. When it's time to give the presentation, it's helpful to smile, adopt a confident posture and make eye contact with your audience.

Related: 16 useful PowerPoint presentation tips and tricks for work

Skills tests

Various jobs and industries use skills tests to assess skills specific to the job. This type of task is common in IT and programming jobs. This test requires you to complete several tasks, such as troubleshooting. If you already have the skills, then these tests are usually straightforward to complete. Prepare in advance by exploring software that you're less familiar with.

Typing tests

Typing tests are more common for administrative jobs and for jobs that involve a lot of typing. These tests help to measure your speed and accuracy. To develop your typing skills, practise with other typing tests. Various tests are available online that are useful for preparing before a job interview and it's possible to practise typical text or spoken recordings yourself. Some typing tests in interviews give you a chance to take a practice test first. It's advisable to do this so you know what to expect when the proper test begins.

Written tests

Employers mainly use writing tests if you're applying for a writing-related job like copywriting, content writing or communications positions. One useful way to prepare is to research the organisation's existing content and communications. Aiming to replicate this tone and style is beneficial. Include some time to proofread and edit your writing to ensure it's clear, concise, communicates the right message and is free from spelling and grammar errors.

Related: Written communication skills: definition and examples

Real-time exercises

A real-time exercise assesses your ability to prioritise and make decisions. This involves prioritising and suggesting solutions for issues that you might encounter on the job. This helps interviewers to understand the way you work, which shows whether you're a suitable fit for the organisation. Read the instructions thoroughly so that you understand the requirements. Making notes about your actions helps you explain them. Thinking in advance about the job's top priorities can also help you prepare.

Group activities

If you're taking part in a group interview, you may engage in group activities. This allows you to demonstrate your communication and interpersonal skills. This is important in jobs where you work as part of a team, for example, in retail or hospitality. Activities might include ice-breakers, role plays and group discussions.

In these situations, show enthusiasm and actively participate while giving others an opportunity to contribute. This shows that you work effectively in a team. If you know the topic, you might prepare comments or ideas in advance to help you contribute, but remain open-minded about the ideas of others, too.

Related: What's interview role play? (With examples and tips)

Group interviews

Group interviews involve answering interview questions as you would in a one-on-one discussion but as part of a group instead. This might involve everyone participating in the interview or separating candidates into smaller groups. Prepare for this task in the same way as for an individual interview. During the group interview, share your ideas but listen to other people. If you agree with another candidate, indicate this, but share an alternative idea too. Always aim to add original ideas during these tasks.

Case studies

Case studies are tasks that are most common for analytics and consultancy jobs. They involve the interviewer giving you a scenario and requiring you to respond verbally or in writing with advice. This task tests your analytical skills, problem-solving and creative thinking. Prepare by considering the type of case study you might work on depending on the job or industry you're applying to. Review all the information and resources you get thoroughly and think about the justifications for your decisions.

Why is interview preparation important?

Interview preparation, for both answering interview questions and completing tasks, is valuable because it improves your performance. A convincing performance increases the chances of getting the job. Careful preparation shows the employer that you're interested in the job. This can sometimes give you an advantage over other candidates. These are some of the main reasons preparing for a job interview is important:

Makes you feel calmer

Preparing can make you feel calmer because you understand what might happen during the interview. Knowing what to expect boosts your confidence because you know how to respond. It then becomes easier to answer the interview questions.

Related: Things to do before an interview to prepare (plus benefits)

Makes a positive impression

Preparation helps you to make a positive impression both on the interviewers and on other candidates in a group interview, who may be your future colleagues. A candidate who actively participates in tasks, shows knowledge, skill and confidence and works well with other people is likely to make a positive impression on other people. Interview preparation helps you to demonstrate these qualities.

Shows your commitment

Preparing in advance for an interview shows that you're making an effort to get the job. Candidates who participate in an interview with no preparation may seem less interested and this might deter the interviewer. Showing a genuine interest in the job, employer and recruitment process demonstrates to employers that you're well-engaged and are suitable for the job.

Encourages appropriate behaviour

Preparing for an interview by finding out more about the employer and the tasks you might do helps you to present yourself and behave appropriately. This is because you gain some insight into the culture of the organisation and what the expectations are. Demonstrating appropriate behaviour shows that you're a good fit for the company culture which might increase your chances of getting the job.

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