5 types of job interviews and how to prepare for them

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Job interviews can come in various formats. What you’ll face will depend on the industry you belong to and the type of work you’re expected to do.

Each type of interview is designed to assess different aspects of a candidate’s qualifications, skills, and personality. If you’ve been invited to a job interview, it’s a good idea to ask the type of interview to expect if it was not mentioned in the employer’s call or email.

Here are five common types of job interviews and tips on how to prepare for each:

  1. Phone Interview:

    What it’s like: It is done as an initial screening. The employer would like to verify the information in your resume, or find out how you speak on the phone. The call usually takes 15-30 minutes and can be followed by an in-person interview.
    Industries/Fields: Phone interviews can be used in various industries, including technology, customer support, sales, and remote work positions.
    How to prepare: Find a quiet place for the call. Have your resume, notes, and the job description handy. Speak clearly, and listen attentively since you won’t have visual cues. For more tips, read: How to have a successful phone or Skype interview.

  2. Traditional Interview:

    What it’s like: An interviewer asks a set of questions. An unstructured one-on-one is when the interviewer has a set of questions but asks more based on your answers.
    Industries/Fields: It is used across various industries and is the most common type of interview. It is designed to assess a candidate’s general qualifications and personality traits.
    How to prepare: Research the company, review the job description, and practice answering common interview questions. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure your responses, especially for behavioural questions.

  3. Case Interview:

    What it’s like: The interviewer will provide a real or hypothetical problem for you to solve. You are expected to ask clarifying questions, walk them through your problem-solving process, and offer solutions. You can learn about case study basics from this video:

    20 Case Interview Tips To Get 2x Better Immediately, Hacking the Case Interview.

    Industries/Fields: Case interviews are primarily used in management consulting, finance, and data analytics. In the field of UX (User Experience), this is known as whiteboard interviews. It is valuable for evaluating problem-solving and analytical abilities.
    How to prepare: Review problem-solving techniques and practice solving cases. Be ready to discuss your thought process and engage in a structured analysis. Employers who use case interviews will usually send the invitation several weeks before to allow you to prepare. Depending on your field, you can study case interview examples by searching online.

  4. Video Interview:

    What it’s like: Similar to traditional interviews, but conducted via video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype. The interview could also be done by several people who will be in the call.
    Industries/Fields: Video interviews have become more common since the pandemic. It is the preferred type in technology, remote work, and global organizations where candidates may be located in different geographical locations. They are also used in creative industries to assess visual and communication skills.
    How to prepare: Test your equipment (camera, microphone, and internet connection) in advance. Dress professionally, choose a neutral background, and maintain eye contact with the camera. For more tips, read: How to have a successful phone or Skype interview.

  5. Panel Interview:

    What it’s like: Several interviewers from different departments or levels of the organization will take turns in asking questions. A panel may be composed of three to five people. If there are more some would be merely observing and not asking questions.
    Industries/Fields: Panel interviews are common in government, academia, healthcare, and large corporations where multiple stakeholders need to assess a candidate’s suitability for positions with significant responsibilities and impact.
    How to prepare: Research the panel members’ roles and backgrounds. Address each interviewer when responding. It is important to manage your time effectively to ensure everyone gets a chance to ask questions.

There are other less common types of job interviews. For example, the informal lunch interview, working interview (you complete a job task onsite), or the one-way interview (you record yourself on video answering questions the employer sent in advance). But regardless of the type of interview you’ll be facing, the best way to ace it is to be prepared, show confidence, and to just be yourself. You can do it!
Sources: 15 major types of job interviews (plus tips for success), Indeed Career Guide; and 12 Types of Interviews You May Find in a Job Search, Coursera. Accessed September 20, 2023.

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Community Resources

Learn how to prepare for an interview and practice your skills in a live mock interview. Join Manitoba’s Start’s Interview Skills Workshop. Register today for free.

Do you like practicing by yourself? Use Google’s Interview Warmup. You can practice answering key questions and get feedback after.

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