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11 Types of Interviews (and When They’re Best)

Out of hundreds of applications, only about 10 candidates receive calls for phone screening interviews, and four to five candidates get in-person interviews. When conducting a job interview, choosing the right interview format and types of interview questions helps you find the best candidate. Learn the common types of job interviews and how they’re best used before you look for your next hire.

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1. Group interviews

A group interview lets you screen lots of candidates at once. You can narrow down the pool quickly and conduct more thorough one-on-one interviews later or hire on the spot. It also gives you a chance to see how candidates handle a group setting, who has leadership potential and how well each person works within a team.

Group interviews are ideal when you’re hiring lots of people for general positions that don’t require highly specialized skills. They work well when you need to hire quickly for a similar position, such as call center associates, hotel staff or sales associates.

Interview questions often focus on job-specific tasks, with all interviewees sharing their answers. Some group interviews take on a debate or discussion format, which lets you see how each person interacts with others and takes on leadership roles. Other group interviews break candidates into smaller groups with each group, getting a task or work simulation that requires them to work together.

2. Phone interviews

Employers often use phone interviews as an initial screening to ask preliminary questions of the top candidates. You can verify that the candidates have the right qualifications and might be a good fit for the position before you schedule an in-person interview. Doing screening calls can save you time and help you choose the candidates with the most potential.

Questions for a screening phone call should focus on the most important qualifications. Ask about the key skills and duties, why the candidate wants to work for your company, ideal salary, availability and why they’re leaving their current position. Phone interviews are usually shorter than in-person interviews, so keep your question list concise.

3. In-person one-on-one interviews

In-person interviews are one of the most common types of job interviews. They’re traditional interviews with each candidate meeting you in person and might include a tour or introductions to other team members. Because in-person interviews are longer, you can dig deeper than you would in a phone or group interview. This method is ideal for a specialized position where you need specific qualifications.

Consider different types of in-person interviews to get the information you want. Some interviews are free-flowing, with interviewers more having a conversation than asking a list of questions. A structured interview uses a standardized set of questions based on the skills and experience you need. Interviewers might use a rubric to rate answers. It’s an easier way to compare candidates objectively with data to support the decision.

A behavioral interview focuses on how candidates handled particular situations in the past. You might ask each candidate to tell you about a time they dealt with a difficult coworker, reached a goal, went beyond what was expected or dealt with a high-pressure situation. Consider the situations the person might encounter in the job with your company and ask how they handled similar situations in the past.

4. Virtual interviews

Virtual interviews take place via video conferencing software such as Indeed Interview. They became popular during the pandemic as a way to help with social distancing, but offer a convenient way to interview anyone from anywhere. Another reason is to interview someone who lives in another state. It’s cheaper to conduct a virtual interview than to fly the candidate to your location for an in-person interview. It’s also ideal when time is limited and schedules are difficult to coordinate.

Types of interview questions for a virtual interview are usually similar to those for an in-person interview. Ask about skills, qualifications, experience and other relevant topics. Cultural questions can help you determine if the candidate is a good match for the company culture. If you’re using a virtual interview to screen candidates before an in-person interview, stick to the basics about qualifications, the reason for applying and salary requirements.

5. Panel interviews

An alternative to one-on-one in-person interviews is the panel interview, with a group of interviewers instead of just one person conducting the interview. This option is ideal when you want multiple people involved in the decision-making process or the candidate will work with different teams and you want them all to have a say in the hire. It’s also a good way to judge how well each candidate does under pressure, since it can be intimidating to talk to multiple people.

The interview questions for panel interviews can be the same as for a one-on-one interview. They’re often more in-depth than phone interviews, and they might take a structured or behavioral approach. Interview panel members often take turns asking questions.

6. Multiple interviews

Some companies put candidates through multiple interviews before making a hiring decision. You might start with a phone screening interview and follow up with an in-person interview. Then, you might invite your top candidates back for a second in-person interview. It could be the same format or a different type, such as a one-on-one interview the first time and a panel interview the second time.

The goal of subsequent interviews is to go more in-depth with top candidates than you did in the first in-person interview. Ask more complex questions or follow-ups to earlier questions. You might include a tour of the facility or have candidates meet with more than one person for additional interviews.

7. Lunch interviews

Interviewing candidates over lunch gives you a chance to see them outside of a traditional office interview. It’s a more relaxed setting, so you can see how each candidate behaves under those conditions. This option is a good test if the position requires meeting with clients over meals. You can see how candidates might handle that situation.

Since it’s a more relaxed situation, a lunch interview is often better suited for informal questions and conversations. If this is a second interview after a formal in-person interview, ask follow-up questions based on earlier responses or go more in-depth on job duties and other aspects of the position.

8. Career fair interviews

If part of your recruiting plan includes career fairs, you’ll likely conduct mini interviews at the event. The idea is to screen interested job seekers to find the most qualified candidates for in-depth one-on-one interviews at a later date.

Similar to a phone screening interview, a career fair interview is short, usually 10 to 15 minutes long. Stick to high-level questions that help you weed out candidates who aren’t a good fit. Questions might pertain to skills, experience, why they want to work for your company and what kind of expectations they have.

9. Testing interviews

This type of interview lets you see a candidate in action. Instead of just asking questions, you have them show their skills. One simple way to do this is by conducting a skills test for each candidate related to the job. A copywriter interview might involve producing a writing sample. An administrative assistant position might require a typing test.

Another option is having each candidate do a presentation related to the job. A teacher might do a mock lesson, or a sales candidate might give a mock sales pitch. These tasks let you assess related skills.

Ensure you follow all legal guidelines for doing this type of interview. It’s generally illegal to ask someone to work for you for free, even for a few hours, as part of the interview process.

10. Stay interviews

A stay interview isn’t a way to find a new employee. It’s an interview of your current employees to assess job satisfaction and determine why they’re staying with your company. These interviews can help you become a better employer, and they promote open communication with employees and build trust with your staff.

Questions asked during a stay interview focus on what makes the company an appealing place to work, what makes your employees happy and what you can do to improve employee retention. This might include questions about what gets employees excited about work, what they wish was different about the job and what factors impact their work.

11. Exit interviews

Another type of interview for current employees is the exit interview. It takes place when an employee resigns. An HR representative often conducts the interview to determine why the employee is leaving and what the company can do differently in the future.

Questions might include the reason for looking for a new job, why the employee accepted a new job, what could have made them stay and how they feel about the management. The goal is to get feedback that can help you improve employee retention.

Choosing types of interview formats

Consider your overall goal for the interview when choosing types of interview formats. When you need to fill lots of entry-level positions quickly, group interviews are efficient. When interviewing a long-distance candidate, a virtual interview is cost-effective. In-person interviews offer an effective, in-depth interview situation. Many employers use different types of interviews for different purposes.

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