20 Common Interview Types and Tips To Succeed at Each
Updated June 9, 2023
Employers conduct interviews to learn more about candidates to narrow their search for someone to fill a job opening. During an interview, the hiring manager may ask candidates a series of questions to test their competency, learn more about their experiences related to the role and determine how they might improve. Learning about the types of interviews that hiring managers may host can help you prepare for each in your job search.
In this article, we explain 20 of the most common interview types you may experience as a job candidate and share advice to succeed at each type.
20 common interview types
Here are the common interview types you might experience:
1. Traditional interview
A traditional interview is when you and one other person meet to discuss your credentials and background as it relates to the role to which you've applied. Typically, this person is a manager, human resources (HR) representative or recruiter. For a traditional interview, you meet the interviewer at the business and have an interview in an office or a conference room. They may ask you about your education, experience and skills pertaining to the role.
You can prepare for this kind of interview by researching both the company and your interviewer. It can also help to review the job description to refresh your memory of what the employer is seeking. Prepare responses to common interview questions and think about what competencies and responsibilities the employer may mention.
2. Panel interview
In a panel interview, multiple people interview you at once. Your position may have an impact on multiple people's jobs, so they all offer input regarding your candidacy. Each interview may ask questions regarding their department and how you might engage with their team. For example, if you're interviewing for a cross-functional job like social media management, you might speak with a marketing manager, a customer service manager and a communications manager.
When answering each question they ask you, you can direct your answer to the person who asked it. Try to learn the positions of each interviewer beforehand, so you know where to direct specific questions.
3. Group interview
In this style of interview, a company interviews multiple people at once. Group interviews are common in industries like food service and hospitality. Though you may feel competitive in a group interview, remember to be polite and friendly to the other candidates. It might help to provide answers that help you differentiate yourself as a candidate. It can also help to listen to what the other candidates say before you so that you can think of a unique response when it's your turn to answer.
4. Phone interview
A phone interview is often the first step in an interview process as hiring managers or recruiters screen a pool of candidates. During this interview, they may ask you to tell them about yourself and then ask you questions about why you applied for the job. They may also want to learn how passionate you are about the opportunity, so they may want to gauge how much you know about the role.
If they discover you're a quality candidate for the role, they might ask you to visit the business for a traditional interview. If you're applying for a remote position, a phone interview could also serve as a formal interview. When interviewing on the phone, find a quiet location free of noises and distractions so you can focus better. Bring a list of questions you might ask about the role, workplace, manager and hiring process.
5. Video interview
Remote employers tend to use teleconferencing or video interviews when hiring for their positions. Treat your teleconferencing interview like a traditional interview by preparing for common interview questions beforehand. Also, consider dressing professionally like you would for an in-person interview.
To show your professionalism, you can sit in front of a tidy, neutral backdrop so the interviewer can focus on your responses and see that you're an organized person. Test your internet connection to ensure it's stable and arrive to the link a few minutes early so you can troubleshoot if you have any issues accessing the virtual meeting.
6. Restaurant or off-site interview
In some cases, an employer may invite you to talk over a meal or coffee. They may also invite other managers or colleagues to this kind of interview. Though a restaurant or coffee shop may seem more casual than an office interview, it's important to still act professionally. When ordering food, choose something easy to eat while having a conversation. Interviewers might ask serious questions about your qualifications or just hope to learn more about you as a person.
7. Stress interview
Employers filling a high-stress position may use the stress interview tactic. In a stress interview, the interviewer asks you unusual questions rather than ones about your background and experience. For example, they may ask you to solve puzzles, react to unusual behaviors or perform an odd task. The purpose of this kind of interview is to see how you can perform in stressful situations.
To perform well in a stressful interview, try to remain calm while assessing situations and make thoughtful decisions or answers. You might also do some basic research on common stress interview questions and exercises so you can prepare.
8. Case interview
During a case or case study interview, the interviewer asks you to analyze and solve a challenging business situation. Many of the cases they present are based on real-life situations, often ones the company experiences. Technology, financial and consulting industries may use a case interview to see how you problem-solve in situations that you may experience at work. During a case study, try to thoroughly read all the instructions they give you to ensure you can correctly solve the case.
9. Job fair interview
Companies send representatives and recruiters to job fairs to talk to attendees about their company and open positions. When talking to attendees, they also collect resumes that they can review later. Consider printing many copies of your resume before a job fair so you can pass them out to all the companies of interest. It may also help to have a digital copy of your resume that you can send easily via email, file-sharing or a quick response (QR code).
During your conversation with a representative at a business's booth, it might help to consider it a mini-interview. You can prepare to tell them about yourself and why you have an interest in their company. Also, you might use this as a time to learn more about the company and ask them questions. At the end of the conversation, ask for their business card and follow up with a thank you email after the job fair. In the email, ask them about the next steps in the hiring process.
10. On-the-job interview
An on-the-job interview tests the skills you might use in the role. During this type of interview, the interviewer may ask you to actually complete real job tasks. For example, if you're applying for a writing job, they may ask you to write a brief article based on the information they give you. This can also be important for jobs in construction or other physical areas to show that you know how to handle different equipment.
Ensure you follow instructions, only use resources the employer permits and act confidently. An on-the-job interview could also be an opportunity to show a potential employer that you understand their process, workflow and quality guidelines.
11. Behavioral interview
A behavioral interview consists of interview questions that assess how you might act in a certain situation. These questions are generally more complex than a simple yes or no question. Prepare for this type of interview by thinking about previous experiences you've had that relate to the role you're interviewing for and preparing answers in the STAR response method. This helps provide specific examples of times you handled similar situations and helps managers picture how you might help them.
12. Competency-based interview
During a competency-based interview, the interviewer asks you questions that require you to discuss your skills and experiences related to the role. Before this type of interview, read through the job description and identify which required skills you have and how you've used them throughout your career. Consider mentioning the skills you list on your resume and only including ones about which you feel strongly.
13. Final interview
A final interview is the last step of the interview process. It's the final interview before a company decides to hire you. This interview happens after you've successfully completed preliminary interviews. You may interview with a senior manager or even an executive depending on the company size. Before this interview, think about what you discussed in your previous interviews and reflect on any additional insight you can provide.
14. Informal interview
An informal interview is more casual and less structured than a typical interview. This usually takes place during the initial screening process, when recruiters want to get to know you a little better. This casual conversation may take place in a less formal setting, such as a coffee shop. You can prepare for this interview by thinking about what you want to accomplish in the role and what type of work environment you're targeting.
15. Informational interview
An informational interview is when you meet with someone at a company to learn more about their job opportunities, work culture, industry and company rather than to apply for a specific opening. Many people just starting in their careers use informational interviews to learn more about their career options. For this kind of interview, prepare by creating a list of questions for the interviewer and doing company research.
Related: Informational Interview Questions
16. Mock interview
A mock interview is a practice interview where you can work on your interviewing skills and receive feedback. Most people conduct mock interviews with a friend, family member, counselor or mentor. To prepare for a real interview, you can do multiple mock interviews and apply the feedback you receive from each one.
17. On-the-spot interview
Sometimes, when you turn in an application, an employer wants to interview you right away. This is a way they can instantly decide whether you're an effective candidate for the role. Consider reading the job description thoroughly before submitting your application to help prepare you if you have to interview immediately. It can also help to take your time when responding to ensure you deliver thoughtful answers despite having minimal time to prepare.
18. Unstructured interview
An unstructured interview is when the questions an interviewer asks you change based on your responses. They may have a few questions prepared ahead of time but then think of more questions during the interview. This kind of interview tends to be more fluid and casual. Though this may seem less intimidating than a traditional interview, still treat it seriously and remain professional.
19. Structured interview
A structured interview is when interviewers ask each candidate the same questions. This helps the interviewer compare responses. You can prepare for this kind of interview by thinking about what skills you have that are relevant to the role. Also, research common interview questions and think of answers for them.
20. Serial interview
A serial interview is when you meet with several people from a company in the same day. You might have two hours where you meet with different team members for 30 minutes each. This might include a manager, a team member or members of other departments who you might collaborate with that hope to learn more about your qualifications. To prepare for this, consider different aspects of the positions and practice answering sample questions to remain calm and focused.
Tips for preparing for any type of interview
Below is some advice that may help you when preparing for an interview:
Consider that the type of interview you can expect may depend on your industry. For example, on-the-job interviews may be more common in technical roles, while case studies apply to business management and consulting roles.
Research common interview processes for your job title. Your title may affect the type of interview you do, too, as executive interview processes can be drastically different from entry-level processes. A seasonal job that's hiring en masse might be more likely to use a group or on-the-spot interview, while an office job in a competitive field, like sales and creative advertising, may have longer, more involved processes.
Expect many different interview types. Many companies incorporate various types of interviews into the hiring process to learn more about a candidate. For example, you may do a phone interview, traditional interview and behavioral interview for a single job.
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