Five years ago, when you heard the words "job interview," you most likely imagined a traditional face-to-face structured interview — the kind with a higher-up across the desk asking about strengths and weaknesses and chatting about the weather.
But today, we have many different interview formats to serve different purposes and workplaces. It can be hard to know the types of interviews that will work best for your role. To help, I put together this guide to 15 types of interviews. It covers remote, in-person, casual, and traditional interviews.
By the end of this guide, you will better understand different kinds of interviews and how to use them to your advantage. With an interview format that suits your work environment and hiring goals, your search will be a little easier.
15 Types of Interviews
Each of the interviews listed below will help you learn about your job candidates. However, it helps save time and energy to know which interviews will ultimately support your hiring goals and offer an exceptional candidate experience. Let's take a closer look at each interview type.
1. Panel Interview
A panel interview is when a candidate goes before two to five team members from various departments. Anyone in the room is expected to eventually work with the new hire.
The panel interview can save time. They are common in academic industries, larger non-profit sectors, tech, and government. Panel interviews are also a popular choice for executive leadership hires. These interviews help larger organizations make a more objective hiring decision as a team observes how the candidate answers each of their questions.
2. Video Interview
The video interview can help you evaluate long-distance candidates. It's also a logical choice if the position is remote since you'll likely rely on this type of communication over face-to-face communication.
As trends move towards remote workplaces, these types of interviews have become increasingly popular and are supported by many reliable software options like Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet. A disadvantage of video interviews is the risk of malfunctioning technology. For this reason, these types of interviews require you to test your technology before the interview.
3. Traditional Interview
The traditional interview is the go-to in-person interview between a job seeker and a hiring manager. Many hiring teams rely on traditional interviews to get a read on non-verbal cues like body language, eye contact, and other interpersonal skills. Common interview questions can include:
- What interests you about this job/company?
- Why should we hire you?
- Can you discuss a time you went above and beyond for a client or a colleague?
- What motivates you?
- How do you react when you make mistakes?
Topics can vary in a traditional interview. To compile your list of questions, think carefully about your goals for this role.
Traditional interviews are used in almost every industry and type of role. Be sure to use a screening process or interview beforehand to make this interview style more efficient.
4. Informational Interview
An informational interview is organized at the request of a job seeker who hopes to learn more about a role, industry, or company. It can take place over coffee or in other informal environments. Both participants should be aware that the purpose of this meeting is to advance the job seeker.
5. Lunch Interview
In addition to answering your standard interview questions, this format demonstrates interpersonal skills, small talk, and even table manners. This interview tends to be informal and less structured, and it gives the candidate an opportunity to ask their potential employer and co-workers more questions. It can take place in a restaurant or in the office.
The lunch interview tends to be particularly useful for any client-facing or sales-centric roles since it recreates social environments.
6. Behavioral Interview
Behavioral interviews are designed to understand how a candidate thinks, feels, and approaches problem-solving. The questions prompt the candidate to describe examples of their work experience. Themes to uncover in this type of interview include initiative, goals, ethics, decision making, communication, and teamwork.
Behavioral interview questions are best suited to traditional or panel interview formats and can be applied to most roles across most industries. However, entry-level candidates may have difficulty answering these questions, as they don’t have much work experience to pull from.
7. Competency-Based Interviews
This type of interview tests soft skills. The candidate’s answers determine if they have the right mix of interpersonal skills for your work environment. Soft skills to discuss in competency-based interviews can include adaptability, communication, resilience, creativity, empathy, and teamwork. This type of interview questions is especially important for roles that require emotional intelligence.
You can evaluate a candidate’s competency with behavioral-style interview questions. Like the behavioral interview, the competency-based interview is typically one part of a full interview. It’s best when used in a traditional or panel interview format.
8. Candidate Group Interview
Group interviews involve multiple candidates interviewing at once for the same role. These types of interviews test professional communication, leadership, and performance under pressure.
This interview simulates the group dynamic of a work environment. Candidates must balance politely giving others space to speak while assertively communicating their suitability. This format can be a delicate balancing act for candidates who prefer a more structured interview. It’s often introduced early in the hiring processes because it helps to eliminate candidates efficiently.
9. Mock Interview
Mock interviews are a form of role-playing. They prepare job seekers for upcoming interviews by having family or friends act as the interviewer. This style of interview could also work for managers training their employees on how to interview candidates.
10. Screening Interview
A screening interview is usually the first step in the interview process. It's most often a telephone interview but can also be a video interview or, in special cases, a face-to-face interview.
This type of interview is informal and helps spot candidates who aren’t a good match for basic reasons. Key details include availability, salary requirements, relevant work history, and any skills that are needed in the role.
This interview is often handled by the human resources department or a recruiter rather than the hiring manager.
11. Stress Interview
Stress interviews became a trend in the ‘90s, but most HR leaders agree it’s not effective. This type of interview is now rare.
It involves putting the candidate through a series of uncomfortable or stressful tests to see how they react. It can involve delaying the start of the interview, making unpleasant commentary, and showing rude manners.
This format is risky, as it can leave your desired candidate with a bad taste in their mouth and hurt your professional reputation. If anything, this kind of interview would prove useful for first responders who need to remain calm under extreme pressure.
12. Off-Site Interview
If you have limited office space or prefer not to alert your team you're backfilling a position, you can invite candidates to an off-site interview in a public place, cafe, or restaurant. It's a good idea to scout out the environment first so you aren’t stuck with noisy places with limited seating. This is another great first interview option offered in an informal setting. It can also help you find good potential culture fits.
13. Exit Interview
An exit interview is what happens when a candidate is ready to leave the company. This type of interview is performed by human resources and can provide a company with valuable insights into the former employee's experience. The goal is to use the feedback from the exit interview to improve the company and reduce turnover.
Here are a few sample questions:
- How can this company improve?
- What attracted you to your new job?
- What prompted you to look for work?
- How satisfied were you with your salary, benefits, and time off?
- Would you recommend our work environment? Why or why not?
14. Technical Interview
Technical interviews are essential for roles like engineering, front-end development, backend development, or any type of role that requires a deep competency usually related to software.
A technical interview may involve a standardized test that practically assesses the technical skill and further evaluates critical thinking skills. Interview Schedule easily integrates with tools like CoderPad, HackerRank, and CodeSignal.
Other tests may include brain teasers, reasoning, or whiteboarding exercises where candidates are expected to explain their choices. Since there are numerous ways to achieve the end result, a candidate’s approach and process can say a lot about them.
15. Case Study Interview
Case study interviews involve presenting a candidate with a hypothetical business problem. The candidate is then tasked with formulating a solution on the spot. These questions are not designed with a right or wrong response in mind but rather test a candidate’s analytical reasoning skills.
Case study interviews may take the format of a presentation or panel-style interview. They may be candidate-led where a candidate explains their reasoning step-by-step. Or, they might be interviewer-led, where the candidate and interviewers review facets of the business piece-by-piece together and the candidate presents their conclusion.
Interviews Are Not One-Size-Fits-All
Smart companies know that to get the very best talent on the team, you need a well-planned, masterfully executed hiring process.
Every interview format has a different focus. Understanding these 15 different types of interviews is key to finding your best hire.
It helps to consider working in a standard structured interview format, so every candidate goes through the same process. This will give you a clearer point of comparison and help to eliminate unconscious bias.
Pick an interview format to suit your hiring timeline. Prioritize an interview style that assesses the essential traits for the role. Then, set yourself up for success by using Prelude. The tool’s smart scheduling finds time when relevant parties can come together for each interview stage.
By maximizing your time with candidates, you’ll be more efficient, provide a pleasant candidate experience, and ultimately find your next great teammate.