What Is An Interview? (Types Of Interviews And Formats)
Updated 5 September 2023
When looking for a career change, employers may ask you to participate in the interview process to understand your character traits, skills and attitude to work. Interviews allow an employer or interviewer to decide whether you are a suitable candidate for a vacant position. Learning more about interviews and how to present yourself during an interview can increase your chances of getting hired for a desirable job. In this article, we answer “What is an interview?”, explore its type and format and understand what companies look for in candidates during interviews.
What Is An Interview?
Consider the following information to understand the answer to "What is an interview?":
An interview is a discussion or conversation between a potential employer and a candidate. It is a selection process designed that helps an employer understand the skills, scrutinise their personality and character traits and check the domain knowledge. In this formal meeting, the employer asks questions to get information from a candidate. Usually, interviews happen during the last phase of the recruitment process and help companies select a suitable candidate for a job role. During an interview, the interviewer may ask you about their salary expectation, whereas you can ask about the job responsibilities.
Another purpose an interview serves is that it helps in authenticating a candidate's application. Employers use this opportunity to investigate a candidate's claim and check whether they can prove their claims.
Related: How To Prepare For A Job Interview
Types Of Interviews
Here are a few types of interviews you are likely to face during a recruitment process:
A structured interview process is where an employer asks a fixed set of questions to all candidates appearing for an interview. Rather than focusing on experience-based questions, an employer prefers asking a fixed set of questions and recording the responses of every candidate. They grade these responses against a suitable scoring system and hire candidates based on this result. A structured interview is beneficial for both interviewers and candidates because it eliminates biasness from the recruitment process.
In unstructured interviews, a conversation occurs conversationally and spontaneously. The interviewer can ask questions related to a candidate's skills, experience or qualification. Such interviews do not follow any set format and the interview can go in any direction. It is a traditional interviewing method that organisation's uses to hire suitable candidates. Using an unstructured interview, interviewers gauge a candidate's interview skills by comparing their performance to other candidates.
In a situational interview, employers present a candidate with a problem. Employers use this interview process to evaluate their approach to solving problems. Through such interviews, an employer understands what action a candidate would take in various job-related situations. When answering such questions, employers expect a candidate to give answers related to similar situations a candidate handled in the past.
Behavioural interviews are a technique which employers use to gauge and evaluate a candidate's past behaviour in different situations. It helps in understanding how a candidate would perform in similar situations at work. It is easier for an employer to predict the success of a candidate on their past performance. Usually, the employer asks open-ended questions about specific situations to hire a suitable candidate. The employer then tallies a candidate's response against an anchored rating scale.
Employers gauge a candidate's ability to respond to stress in different workplace situations using this interview style. For some job roles like consulting, employers conduct stress interviews to spot sensitive applicants and separate high-stress tolerance candidates from the rest. It is a great interview style to find sensitive applicants who may lose their calm attitude in stressful situations. In such interviews, employers create anxiety to see the reaction of a candidate.
A technical interview is an interview type that helps an employer understand technical and job-related aptitude. When applying for healthcare, information technology, engineering and science, a candidate is more likely to face technical interviews. Through such interviews, an employer gauges your technical expertise and it helps in understanding whether you have the skills required to complete your job-specific duties.
It is a common type of interview where only one interviewer interviews a candidate. It is a conversational type of interview where the employer drives the agenda initially and a candidate asks questions toward the end. Usually, an employer may ask general, technical, situational and behavioural questions in a one-to-one interview. It is a great interview technique to understand a candidate's experience and domain knowledge.
Video or phone interviews
Such interviews occur on the phone or via video. An employer conducts such interviews when a candidate cannot attend a face-to-face interview. Rather than calling every candidate for an interview, employers usually conduct phone interviews to screen potential candidates. When candidates receive an unexpected call from employers, they give spontaneous answers that help an employer understand the candidate's intelligence and interpersonal skills.
Types Of Interviews Formats
When preparing for an interview, researching different interview formats can help you prepare better for your upcoming interview. Here are different interview formats:
Individual interview formats involve only one interviewer with one candidate. In such interviews, employers can ask situation or behavioural questions. Usually, in such questions, an interviewer may ask the following questions:
Job-specific questions help an interviewer understand whether a candidate is a good fit.
General interview questions related to experience, background, strength and qualification.
When going for an individual interview, focus on highlighting your relevant skills and solving problems for the company. Also, answer questions by providing examples from your previous job experience.
In group interviews, a company interviews multiple applicants at the same time. The interviewer may provide a topic for the group to discuss. During their discussion, an observer rates their performance. Such an interview format helps an employer understand the differences and nuances in the skills and qualifications of candidates. It helps employers test a candidate's interpersonal and communication skills. Usually, in group interviews, interviewers can understand how candidates apply their skills, strengths and qualifications when interacting with others.
In a panel interview, several interviewers assess an individual's candidate on their skills, qualification and experience. Often, the panel comprises a hiring manager, a colleague or a team's manager. In such a format, interviewers usually ask questions in succession. The answer a candidate provides allows a panel to see how they fit the company's values and culture. During a panel interview, focus on maintaining eye contact with everyone and share your success with them.
When hiring for a technical role, many organisations conduct multiple interviews to evaluate candidates' skills and qualifications. In multiple round interviews, the first two rounds may comprise a technical round. The last round maybe with a hiring manager to discuss the candidature and salary expectations. Success in multiple-round interviews involves applying communication and interpersonal skills to answer questions that highlight your skills.
The informational interview format is where you interact with a professional working in a company you are preparing for. In an information interview, candidates contact professionals from different companies and schedule a time to meet them. A professional can help in understanding the work culture and environment of the company. They answer questions about different job roles and potential growth in the company. When going for an informational interview, prepare a list of questions you want to ask about the company and its culture.
Often, computer-assisted interviews are video interviews. Employers provide a series of questions on their screen by pressing the key on the keyboard. Though this technique results in faster hiring, it cannot assess a candidate's emotional intelligence, communication skills or interpersonal skills. Companies prefer using this interview technique when screening and filtering out a large base of candidates applying for a single job.
What Do Companies Look For During An Interview?
During an interview, companies look for candidates with desired skill set who are knowledgeable in their field and a perfect culture fit with the organisation. Here are a few things an employer looks for in a candidate during an interview:
Job-specific skills and knowledge: As employers review your resumes, they want to assess your skills and experience through an interview. They expect a candidate to correlate the answer to every question with experience.
Honesty about areas with less knowledge: Often, employers prefer hiring candidates with sound technical knowledge, but they prefer someone honest about their skills. During an interview, ensure you are transparent about your skills and ready to focus on improvement areas.
Passion and enthusiasm when discussing experience and skills: Employers prefer hiring candidates who show a genuine interest in the job role. The passion with which you answer questions showcases that you have the self-motivation to excel in any job.
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