There are 6 main types of job interviews employers use throughout an interview process.
Not every employer will use all 6 types of interviews, but you should be ready for each just in case.
Fortunately, there are some tactics and preparation steps you can use for each type of interview to better prepare.
So in this article, we’re going to look at all 6 types of job interviews, what to expect in each, and tips for how to ace your interviews.
For most employers, the phone interview is the first type of interview they’ll conduct in their process.
The goal of the phone interview (also called phone screen) is double-edged…
First, the employer wants to verify basic information from your resume and work history. They want to verify that you’re qualified for the job at a basic level before inviting you in for in-person interviews or other steps in their interview process, which cost the company more time/resources.
So you can expect questions like:
Yet they have another goal in the phone interview as well. They’re also going to ask some phone interview questions to understand your motivation, interests, and reasons for job searching.
Even if you’re qualified for the job, you can fail a job interview if you don’t show the right personality traits.
For example, you should prepare for questions such as:
Many employers also ask about your desired salary, too, so be ready for that!
Make sure to look on LinkedIn to see who your phone interview is with, also. If it’s an HR person or recruiter, expect more general questions (about your job search, motivation, etc.)
If it’s a hiring manager or more technical person, prepare for that type of question heavily as well!
Finally, prepare some good questions to ask the interviewer.
If your phone interview is with a recruiter, here’s an article on questions I recommend asking a recruiter.
As one additional tip for this type of interview, make sure to answer the call from a quiet place and be ready with areas of your resume that are perfectly aligned with the needs of the role and the company.
Don’t just give generic answers; talk about the employer’s job description. Discuss their needs and specific skills/work mentioned under the job posting.
The next type of job interview you’re likely to face is the face-to-face interview. This comes after the phone screen in most companies.
Once they’re sure you have the basic skills to perform the job, they’ll invite you to meet in person, where they’ll test you further.
So what do they look for in a face-to-face interview? A couple of things…
The face-to-face interview is where the employer gauges if you are a cultural fit for the company.
They measure soft skills, like whether you seem honest, upfront, coachable, humble, smart, and more.
Your end goal? Build rapport, show them you are a great culture fit for their company.
They’ll also dive further into your technical background in this type of interview.
Education, training, and your most recent work if you’ve held prior jobs.
Don’t just talk about your experience in general; talk about how you can step into their job and help them.
Show that you understand their pain points and that you’ve studied the job posting and know what they need.
Note that the face-to-face interview is also where you’re likely to start hearing behavioral interview questions, such as:
This next type of job interview is sometimes conducted instead of a phone interview.
Recently, Zoom and other video interviews (via Skype, etc.) have been inserted into the interview process as a substitute for face-to-face interviews.
So you might be asked to participate in a video interview at any stage of a company’s interview process.
Video/Zoom interviews present their own challenges.
You need to make sure you have a distraction-free environment. Eliminate clutter and noise from the room. Find a way to temporarily keep pets and children out during your video interview.
Then, you still need to prepare to cover everything that you’d need to do in a traditional interview. Practice your body language, your interview answers, questions you want to ask them, and more.
Practice for behavioral interviews, since you may face questions structured in this format (“tell me about a time when…”)
Overall, in this type of job interview, the interviewer wants to evaluate if you are a good fit, and double-check that you have the skills, experience and qualifications to perform well in the role.
From a content perspective, treat this as a face-to-face interview. Aim for a setting with good lighting (make sure your face isn’t drowned out) and a clean background (no clutter) and make sure the volume is working and is not too loud or too soft.
Practice looking at the camera (not the screen) so that it looks as if you are making eye contact, and be sure to close any applications and put your bells and whistles on mute so they don’t inadvertently go off during the conversation.
Practice your overall body language, too, just like you would for an in-person interview.
Lastly, prepare for the worst case scenario (technical difficulties) by keeping your phone ready in case you need to call should the video connection fail.
Group or panel interviews can be stressful because you are often interviewed simultaneously by several members of the company.
This can cause a high-stress interview situation, but by preparing ahead of time, you can eliminate most of this stress.
Be prepared to maintain eye contact with whichever person is firing the question in your panel interview.
However, when it comes to responding or returning with a question of your own, make eye contact with everyone, just like you might do while giving a presentation to a group audience.
Beyond that, treat your group interview just like any face-to-face interview, but prepare more unique questions to ask, since you’ll be interviewing with multiple people.
Panel interviews are a great time-saver and can allow a company to conduct more interviews in less time. They’re becoming more and more common in a company’s interview process, so make sure you’re ready for this type of interview.
As a final tip – before you leave the panel interview, ask for business cards from ALL of the interviewers so you can write thank-you letters.
Having business cards will also come in handy if you don’t hear feedback for a week or two and need to follow up with the employer.
This is relatively new compared with other types of job interviews.
Digital interviewing allows a company to select questions and have voice-recognition software read them to the candidate, who sits in front of a camera recording the whole thing. A very high-tech format — data and cognitive fit analytics are also brought into the mix and are used to score the candidate.
In addition to freeing up recruiter and hiring manager time, digital interviewing is heralded by many as a tool that levels the playing field and eliminates human bias when it comes to diversity, inclusiveness and fairness.
To prepare for this type of interview, make sure to place the camera slightly above your face so you are looking up to avoid the appearance of having two chins. Just like the online interview, pick an area that is free of distractions and clutter. Stick with short answers, and be sure to appear enthusiastic – not flat – by fluctuating your tone, and by smiling.
Different interview types call for different game plans – from the types and length of your responses to your level of preparation. Understanding the reasoning or end goal behind each format, and preparing accordingly, will give you your best chance at interview success.
Coffee meetings and informational interviews may take the place of the first formal, in-office meeting in some companies.
Chatting over coffee is not uncommon with recruiters juggling many open roles, or hiring managers what no they have a gap to fill but haven’t gotten around to an official job description or posting just yet.
So how should you prepare for this interview type? Even though the venue is casual, be sure to do your due diligence and research the company and the industry.
Be prepared with an elevator speech that spells out how you are perfect for any potential role.
Dress in business casual, (Here’s an article on what to wear to an interview) and bring several copies of a printed resume. You never know when you’ll need an extra copy or two and it’s better to be over-prepared for this type of interview.
Finally, bring a pen and paper for taking notes. You never want to stare down at the page during your interview, but it’s okay to spend 5-10% of your time jotting notes. Just ask the interviewer beforehand if it’s okay to bring it in. (I like to ask right after shaking their hand. You can say, “I brought a pen and paper to take notes. Is it alright if I bring this in with us?”)
They’ll say yes 99% of the time.
If you want more interview tips like this, read this article.
And if you have a question on any of the 6 types of interviews we covered above, feel free to leave a question in the comments below!
By preparing for the different types of structured interviews above, you’ll be ready for whatever format the employer chooses.
Ask in advance if you have any doubts about the format of your interview. It’s always appropriate to ask whether you’ll be attending a video interview, phone interview, group interview, etc.
And by knowing ahead of time, you’ll eliminate anxiety and doubt and be better able to prepare for the exact format that the employer is using.
This article was written with the help of Virginia Franco:
In need of some career advice, a refreshed resume or rebranded LinkedIn? As the founder and chief writer at Virginia Franco Resumes, I offer customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker. I would be happy to chat!
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