In addition to researching the company and practicing common interview questions, you must also prepare for the type of interview you'll have

The different types of interviews greatly vary depending on the position you seek. There are some common interview types, like the in-person or telephone interview, and some not-so-common types, like interviews that require a test. 

You should be able to tell the type of interview you'll have based on the invitation. But what if the interview invitation doesn't specify the type? Then, it's a good idea to understand the different types of interviews you may face and how to navigate them. 

Here are the 10 most common types of interviews:

  1. Traditional (one-on-one) interview

  2. Telephone interview

  3. Video (virtual) interview

  4. Group interview

  5. Panel interview

  6. Lunch interview

  7. Stress interview

  8. Behavioral interview

  9. Competency interview

  10. Career fair interview

How do companies choose an interview format?

Efficiency is the key to how a company will perform interviews. For example, if you're applying for a sales position, the hiring manager wants to know if you can sell stuff. Therefore, you may have to demonstrate your sales ability through role play. When applying for a tech role, you'll probably be faced with a competency-based interview so that the hiring manager can determine your familiarity with things like networking, systems administration, and troubleshooting.

There are three basic things that companies look at to ascertain which type of interview they'll use:

  1. The requirements of the job

  2. The work environment

  3. The job seeker

Different types of interviews

Just because your first interview with a company is structured one way, don't assume that all future interviews will be in the same format. Companies may choose more than one style. This further proposes that you familiarize yourself with varying techniques, so that you won't be surprised at an inopportune time. 

1. Traditional (one-on-one) interview

This type of interview is arguably the most common. It consists of you, the job seeker, sitting down with a hiring manager or Human Resources person to discuss how your education, qualifications, and achievements align with a particular job. Some companies may have multiple rounds of personal interviews for you to attend. 

How to prepare for a personal interview

2. Telephone interview

Sometimes you'll get a telephone interview. This is often used as a pre-screening tool to determine which candidates the company feels are best suited for the role. However, in today's world of remote work, the telephone interview could also be your formal interview. For the most part, don't expect to walk away from a telephone interview with a job offer. 

How to prepare for a telephone interview

  • Do everything you would to prepare for a personal interview

  • Find a quiet place that's free from distractions

  • Have something to drink nearby in case your throat gets dry

  • Slow your speech down to ensure that what you say is understood

  • Remember that the interviewer can hear whether you're smiling or frowning

3. Video (virtual) interview

A video interview is similar to a personal interview, except that instead of sitting in the interviewer's office having a face-to-face conversation, you're sitting at your desk in your house. Before 2020, virtual interviews weren't as popular as they are now. Since that time, their popularity has increased and, according to Forbes, using video as an interview technique isn't going away any time soon

How to prepare for a video (virtual) interview

  • Treat your video interview the same way you would an in-person interview

  • Make sure that your internet connection is solid

  • Find a distraction-free area that is well-lit

  • Use good body language and enunciate your answers

  • Avoid having things in the background of your video that will take the interviewer's attention away from you

4. Group interview

It can be intimidating to walk into a room and find out that you're interviewing with a group of other people. Use it as a learning tool, though. When companies interview multiple people at one time, they're trying to thin the crowd to the best pool of candidates. Listen to other people's answers to know how you stack up against the competition. Then, formulate your responses to elevate your candidacy above the crowd. 

How to prepare for a group interview

  • Research the company, plan your wardrobe, and practice answering interview questions just like you would with a personal interview

  • Prepare an elevator pitch because, inevitably, the interviewer will ask people in the group to introduce themselves

  • Be friendly with your fellow interviewees – this shows leadership and confidence, and the hiring managers will take note

  • Answer first sometimes. You don't always want to be the first to speak because you'll give up the advantage of listening to other answers, but it shows confidence to go first occasionally

5. Panel interview

There will be a group of people involved in your panel interview, but it's not the same as a group interview. During a panel interview, you'll sit in front of more than one company representative. It gives you the advantage of not having to regurgitate the same information to multiple people, but it may be hard to determine which person in the panel will make the hiring decision. Losing the opportunity to build rapport with the decision-maker can make securing a job more difficult. 

How to prepare for a panel interview

  • In addition to preparing answers to common interview questions, prepare to answer some industry- and job-specific questions

  • Brush up on your people-reading skills to try to pinpoint the decision-maker

  • Research the panel members, if you can find out who they are, so that you can learn more about each one. This will help with the icebreaker conversations and assist you in guestimating which one has the final say

  • Make eye contact with everyone, even if you think you know who will make the final decision, because you may be wrong

6. Lunch interview

A lunch interview doesn't usually happen during the first round of interviews. It's reserved for when the company has a strong feeling about a particular candidate. So, if you've received an invite to lunch or coffee, you're making good progress on the road to getting a job offer. This type of interview can be tricky to navigate because, in addition to preparation, there are new rules to remember.

How to prepare for a lunch interview

  • Avoid thinking that this will be a casual encounter; treat your preparation time just like you would any other interview

  • Remember your table manners and be conscious of how you engage with the restaurant personnel - you're being watched

  • Look up the restaurant's menu online and know what you want to eat before you get there. If you know that you always end up wearing spaghetti sauce, don't order spaghetti!

  • There will likely be more casual conversation, especially at the beginning of the meal. Prepare for small talk but listen for the segue into the actual interview part of the conversation

  • Don't stress about the check; the company invited you and will write the lunch off as an expense. However, don't forget to say “Thank you!”

7. Stress interview

This type of interview usually starts as a traditional, sit-down-with-the-hiring-manager interview. The beginning will be exactly what you expect, with the tell-me-about-yourself-type questions. Then, you'll start to hear questions that are designed to trip you up or stress you out. Ultimately, the interviewer is trying to discover how you respond to uncomfortable situations, because that will give them some insight into how you handle complicated tasks or workplace challenges. 

How to prepare for a stress interview

  • As before, you'll want to research the company and prepare answers to common interview questions

  • Focus on your stress-management tactics (such as deep breathing, happy place images, and meditation)

  • Remember to think before you speak. The hiring manager isn't trying to back you into a corner; he or she wants to know how you respond to stress

8. Behavioral interview

Just like a stress interview, the behavioral interview will likely happen in a face-to-face environment. Expect to hear open-ended questions that start with something like tell-me-about-a-time-when. Fortunately, there's a foolproof way to answer these questions in a succinct yet comprehensive way. Use the STAR method to talk about what was going on, what you did, and the result of your actions. 

How to prepare for a behavioral interview

  • Think about the last 10 years of your career and find a few things you're proud of. What happened, what did you do, and what was accomplished? Write the stories down

  • If you have performance reviews from past experiences, use those to jot down some accomplishment notes

  • Participate in a mock interview, because practicing with a peer is a great way to gain some valuable feedback as to your success in providing valuable responses

9. Competency interview

A competency-based interview is very similar to a behavioral interview, in that you're asked open-ended questions. These questions are more about your skills as they relate to the open position. This is especially important if the company needs someone who knows how to do a particular thing, like program new software. 

How to prepare for a competency interview

  • Read the job description thoroughly to find the main keywords related to what the company needs

  • Write stories from your past that show how you navigated some project or environment that required you to use the skills the company needs, focusing on the results of your work

  • Memorize the STAR method for competency-based questions, just like behavioral-based questions

10. Career fair interview

Whether you're fresh out of college or you have some work experience under your belt, career fairs are great options for landing new roles. You can also build your professional network by attending career fairs. When you go to a career fair, it's possible to have an impromptu interview. Granted, the discussion will only last 10 to 15 minutes, but it's still enough time to expound on your experience and knowledge and build a rapport with the hiring team.

How to prepare for a career fair interview 

    • Verify whether there's any type of registration required, and be sure to get your name on the list

    • Review the list of employers attending and choose the ones you want to visit

    • Fine-tune your resume and bring several copies with you

    • Prepare your elevator pitch

PRO TIP: Career fairs are also great venues for interview practice. Choose companies you'd never want to work for and try to get an interview with them. This type of practice can help to calm your nerves and allow you to gauge reactions to your responses. 

No matter which type of interview you have ahead of you, practice, research, and preparation are the keys to your success. If you need help preparing for your big day, TopInterview has a team of interview coaches standing by

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