Interview Format Example: Different Types And Approaches
Updated 11 July 2023
Interviews can vary in format depending on industry requirements, organisational policies and job specifications. They include structured, unstructured, behavioural, informational or technical, and they can vary in duration. Learning about the various formats can help you prepare in advance and make a positive impression on the interviewer and may improve your chances of getting a job. In this article, we discuss the various types of interviews organisations typically use and provide an interview format example of each type to guide you.
What Is An Interview Format Example?
An interview format example can show you what to expect during a job interview. There are several formats that an organisation may use to determine your suitability as a candidate and whether you may adapt well to its culture. There are also different stages in each interview format.
For example, in the first stage, interviewers introduce themselves and ask general questions to understand your personality and interests. In the next step, they may discuss the role's requirements, followed by questions about your professional qualifications, abilities, skills and experience. They may ask whether you have any questions for them before concluding the interview. Knowing how different interviews progress can help you stay alert, adapt to any format and respond confidently to a range of questions.
Types Of Interview Formats
Some of the various types of interview formats include the following:
Structured interview format
The structured interview format is generally formal. The interviewers may ask you a predetermined set of questions related to the position, the industry and what they want in candidates. They may ask the same questions to all candidates. After recording your answers, they may use a standardised rating system to determine how well you performed. This format allows interviewers to remain unbiased and objective with candidates. As a candidate, research what to expect at the interview and prepare accordingly. Technical and research interviews are examples of this format.
Unstructured interview format
An unstructured interview format is less formal and more flexible than a structured one. Instead of asking predetermined questions, the interviewer may adopt an informal, conversational approach. Your responses to their open-ended questions may determine the direction of the interview. The interviewer still controls the topics and can steer the conversation to ensure they obtain relevant information from you. This format aims to test your professional knowledge and evaluate your thoughts, perceptions, beliefs and experience. The unstructured interview also enables the interviewer to gain insights into your personality and attitude to assess your suitability.
Semi-structured interview format
A semi-structured interview combines structured and unstructured formats. The interviewer may ask questions from a prepared list, but they may also ask spontaneous ones to guide the conversation in specific directions, explore newer topics, put you at ease or gain a better understanding of your abilities. The flexibility of this format enables interviewers to assess your performance according to established criteria and get additional information to determine whether you can fulfil the job's responsibilities. As with the other formats, you can benefit from preparation for this type of interview.
Behavioural interview format
In behavioural interviews, the recruiter may ask how you performed in previous positions or hypothetical questions about how you would behave in specific situations. For example, they might ask how you handled customer concerns or how you might deal with an unexpected professional setback. This type of interview allows recruiters to assess whether you have the necessary traits to perform well in the role, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, time management, organisation, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution abilities, stress management and leadership skills. It also enables them to evaluate whether you might adapt well to the organisation's culture.
Interview Format Approaches
Depending on the position and the organisation you are interviewing for, you can expect any of the following approaches:
Phone or video interview
After short-listing your application, employers may arrange a phone or video interview to determine your suitability for the role. Some employers may also use this type of interview as a second screening. Depending on your performance, you might get a job offer or an invitation to an in-person meeting. Phone or video interviews may last 15 to 45 minutes, and the interviewer may take this opportunity to verify the information in your resume. They might also ask for further details about your previous jobs, professional skills and industry knowledge. Additionally, they may assess your articulation, critical thinking and confidence.
Organisations may arrange group interviews to expedite the process and fill available jobs quickly. One or more interviewers may host group interviews, ask questions to individual candidates or the entire group and initiate a group discussion. The group may comprise you and several other candidates, and the purpose of the interview is to judge your mutual interactions. The interviewers may assess whether you are competitive, assertive and team-oriented. They also may evaluate how often you take the initiative to express your opinions, how well you listen to others and whether you are willing to understand or accept their viewpoints.
Government agencies and large organisations with several departments generally use panel interviews to hire staff. In a panel interview, you appear before a hiring committee consisting of several interviewers who may ask you questions in turn. Each interviewer may have a specific priority to fulfil in their questions, while the overall purpose is to determine whether you meet the role's various requirements. The questions are often predetermined, but they may deviate from their list to ask other questions as the conversation evolves. While responding directly to the questioner, also acknowledge their colleagues.
In this traditional type of interview, you may meet with one interviewer or have a series of meetings with different interviewers. Its duration may range from half an hour to several hours. You might perform better in this type of interview if you establish a good rapport with the interviewer. In preparation, research the interviewers, their roles and the organisational culture. In addition to discovering possible shared interests, consider practising how you might answer behavioural and technical questions they might ask you during the interview.
In some organisations, interviewers may conduct only a project interview, or it may be part of the hiring process. The interviewer may ask you to perform a work project with a specific time limit and complex tasks. They may then observe how well you follow instructions, pay attention to details, find solutions, resolve issues, ensure work quality and finish tasks on schedule. They may also assess how well you handle pressure and deal with stress.
Some employers hiring for advanced or executive roles may arrange a meal interview before making a final hiring decision regarding a candidate. This type of interview may also happen during processes that last for half a day, an entire day or several days. While the ambience may be informal and the conversation may cover general topics, news, current affairs or other popular issues, the interviewer may use this opportunity to assess your personality, conduct, speaking style and general knowledge. In this instance, remain professional and avoid controversial remarks.
A multiple-round interview comprises several interviews of varying duration by a panel of interviewers or different interviewers individually. Conducting multiple interviews in this way over the course of a day or several days allows the employer to assess you on several fronts. They can evaluate your professional, communication, interpersonal and conflict-resolution skills. They can also get a better understanding of your strengths, interests and abilities. These interviews may help them determine whether you might be a good cultural match for their organisation.
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