Learn the various interview types, as well as types of interview questions to ask, in this free career-focused lesson.
Types of interviews
When we think about interviews, we often imagine going to a place of business to speak with one person—usually a potential boss or hiring manager. However, job interviews can take a wide range of forms and can be held in person, over the phone, or via video conference. Here are seven types of interviews you may encounter in addition to a face-to-face, one-on-one interview:
- An employer may use a screening interview to determine which of the top candidates to bring in for the actual face-to-face interview. A screening interview can be done in person but more often will be over the telephone. It may sometimes be conducted by the hiring manager's assistant or someone from HR, but is more typically done by the person doing the hiring.
- For a group interview, you'll usually meet with several people at once, possibly including the hiring manager and your potential peers or supervisors. Group interviews also sometimes include people from other parts of the company that you would have to work with in the position you're applying for. Interviewing potential employees in a group allows employers to see how well you communicate within a team environment. This type of interview is most common for government or education jobs.
- During behavioral interviews, the employer asks you questions about your previous employment behavior to try to gauge what your future performance would look like. Questions focus on how the skills, abilities, and accomplishments of your past can benefit their organization. These questions usually begin with Tell me about a time you... and ask you to give examples of times when you've worked in teams or resolved an issue. Most interviews will involve some behavioral questions, so you should always come prepared with examples.
- The audition interview allows potential employers to see you in action before they make hiring decisions. Computer programmers may be asked to write code, software testers may have to locate and fix a problem, chefs are often asked to prepare a dish, and a corporate trainer may be asked to present new material. These are examples of the audition interview, with the hiring manager—or the hiring team—serving as your audience. In some fields, such as computer programming, an audition is a standard part of an interview, and you may not be told about it ahead of time. For other types of jobs, you'll usually be told before the interview if an audition is expected.
- Interviews over lunch and dinner can be nice, but they often cause anxiety for job candidates. Use basic meal-time etiquette in this case. Order something mid-priced and nonmessy, avoid alcoholic beverages, and pay more attention to the interview than the meal. Even if conversation is casual during the meal, the employer is assessing the appropriateness of your responses and manners. Avoid talking too much about yourself on a personal level, and stay away from comments about politics, religion, gender, and ethnicity.
- During a full-day interview, several members of an organization interview you individually, each with their own departmental interests in mind. For example, the head of the marketing department may ask about your communications background, while the project management team may want to know if you're able to manage large-scale team projects. Sometimes a full-day interview will include behavioral interview questions and an audition interview. The full-day interview will likely include a lunch interview, so be prepared for that as well.
- Sometimes a company may invite the top candidates for a follow-up interview if they are having a difficult time deciding or have neglected to ask an important question. Before going, ask what you can expect and what the company is hoping to get out of the follow up so you'll be prepared.
Every interview is unique; your interview may be a combination of the interview types discussed above, or it may be completely different.