1. Meaning of 'Interview'
  2. Types Of Interviews
      1. Structured Interviews
      2. Unstructured Interviews
      3. Situational Interviews
      4. Behavioral Interviews
      5. Stress Interviews
      6. Technical Interviews
      7. One-to-One Interviews
      8. Video or Phone Interviews
  3. Types Of Interview Formats
      1. Individual Interviews
      2. Group Interviews:
      3. Panel Interviews
      4. Multiple-Round Interviews
      5. Informational Interviews
      6. Computer-Assisted Interviews
  4. What Do Companies Look For During An Interview?

Interviews are a crucial aspect of every job seeker's life, which is why knowing all about them is a good idea.

In this article, we try to answer basic questions like what is an interview?, its meaning, types of interviews, and formats.

Meaning of 'Interview'

An interview is a formal conversation between two or more people, typically with one person, the interviewer, asking questions to obtain information, assess qualifications, or evaluate the suitability of a candidate for a job, admission, or other purposes.

Interviews are commonly used in various contexts, including employment, academic admissions, journalism, and research, to gather insights, make informed decisions, or establish a connection between individuals.

Types Of Interviews

Since job interviews don't have a set format, job seekers must prepare for several types of interviews. Here's a closer look at some of them.

Structured Interviews

A structured interview is a standardized and systematic questioning process where each candidate is assessed using a predetermined set of questions, allowing for fair and consistent evaluations.

Characteristics

  • Pre-determined Questions: In structured interviews, the interviewer asks a set of standardized questions to all candidates. These questions are often prepared in advance and are the same for every interviewee.
  • Consistency: The goal is to maintain consistency in the interview process, ensuring that each candidate is evaluated based on the same criteria.
  • Quantitative Analysis: Responses are typically evaluated using a predetermined scoring system. This allows for a more objective and quantifiable comparison of candidates.

Advantages

  • Fairness: Structured interviews are considered fairer as all candidates are assessed using the same criteria.
  • Reliability: Because of the standardized nature, these interviews tend to be more reliable, and the results are consistent across different interviewers.

Disadvantages:

  • Rigidity: The structured format may limit the interviewer's ability to explore unique aspects of a candidate's background or personality.
  • Less Flexibility: It may not be as effective in assessing certain soft skills or qualities that emerge in more spontaneous conversations.

How to Prepare?

  • Research Common Questions: Since structured interviews often follow a standardized set of questions, research common interview questions related to the position and industry.
  • Practice Responses: Practice answering these questions to ensure that your responses are clear, concise, and can highlight your relevant skills and experiences.
  • Understand the Job Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the key requirements of the job and align your responses with how your skills and experiences meet those requirements.

Unstructured Interviews

An unstructured interview is an informal and open-ended conversation between the interviewer and candidate, lacking a predetermined set of questions, often allowing for a more flexible exploration of the candidate's background and qualities.

Characteristics

  • Open-Ended Questions: Unstructured interviews involve more open-ended and free-flowing conversations. The interviewer may have a general idea of topics to cover but does not follow a strict script.
  • Exploration of Personality: The goal is often to delve into the candidate's personality, motivation, and interpersonal skills, allowing for a more holistic understanding.
  • Subjective Evaluation: Evaluation is more subjective, as there is no predetermined scoring system. Interviewer judgment plays a significant role.

Advantages

  • Depth of Insight: Unstructured interviews can provide a deeper understanding of a candidate's character, creativity, and communication skills.
  • Flexibility: The interviewer has the flexibility to adapt questions based on the candidate's responses, allowing for a more personalized interaction.

Disadvantages

  • Inconsistency: Because there is no standardized set of questions, there can be significant variation in the topics covered and the depth of questioning for different candidates.
  • Bias: The subjective nature of evaluation can introduce biases based on the interviewer's personal preferences.

How to Prepare?

  • Self-Reflection: Since unstructured interviews focus on exploring your personality and motivations, take some time for self-reflection. Consider your strengths, weaknesses, and what motivates you in a work environment.
  • Prepare Personal Stories: Be ready to share specific examples or stories from your past experiences that demonstrate your skills and qualities. These can help provide a more comprehensive understanding of who you are.
  • Stay Informed: Stay informed about industry trends and the organization's values. This can help you tailor your responses to align with the company culture.

Situational Interviews

A situational interview involves presenting candidates with hypothetical scenarios or real-life situations to assess how they would approach and handle specific challenges, providing insights into their problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Characteristics

  • Hypothetical Scenarios: In situational interviews, candidates are presented with hypothetical situations or challenges they might face in the job. The goal is to assess how they would approach and handle these scenarios.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: These interviews aim to evaluate a candidate's problem-solving skills, decision-making process, and ability to think on their feet.
  • Realistic Challenges: Situational interviews often simulate challenges that the candidate may encounter in the actual job role.

Advantages

  • Job Relevance: By presenting scenarios related to the job, situational interviews can provide insights into how well a candidate is likely to perform in the role.
  • Predictive Value: The way a candidate responds to situational questions can be indicative of their future performance.

Disadvantages

  • Limited Predictive Validity: The correlation between how a candidate performs in a situational interview and their actual job performance may not always be strong.
  • Stress Factor: Candidates may feel added pressure in situational interviews, potentially affecting their responses and not accurately reflecting their capabilities.

How to Prepare?

  • Review Job Description: Carefully review the job description and identify the key skills and competencies required. Situational interviews often focus on assessing how well you can apply your skills in real-world scenarios.
  • Practice Problem-Solving: Practice responding to hypothetical scenarios by outlining your thought process and the steps you would take to address the situation. Focus on demonstrating your problem-solving and decision-making skills.
  • Research the Company: Understand the challenges and situations commonly faced in the industry and by the specific company. This knowledge can help you provide more contextually relevant responses.

Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviews focus on assessing a candidate's past behavior and experiences to predict their future performance.

Characteristics

  • Questions are designed to uncover specific examples of how candidates handled situations in the past.
  • Emphasis on soft skills, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication.
  • Often use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) for responses.

Read Soft Skills for Resume

Advantages

  • Provides insights into a candidate's actual behavior in various situations.
  • Helps assess cultural fit and interpersonal skills.

Disadvantages

  • May not predict future performance accurately.
  • Relies heavily on the candidate's ability to recall and articulate past experiences.

How to Prepare?

  • Review common behavioral questions and prepare specific examples.
  • Use the STAR method to structure your responses.
  • Be ready to discuss various situations, including challenges and successes.

Stress Interviews

Stress interviews intentionally create a challenging and pressure-filled environment to evaluate a candidate's ability to handle stress and pressure.

Characteristics

  • The intentional creation of a tense atmosphere with rapid-fire questioning or unconventional tactics.
  • Focus on observing how candidates react under pressure.
  • May involve deliberate attempts to unsettle or challenge the candidate.

Advantages

  • Assesses a candidate's resilience and composure.
  • Mimics high-stress situations that may occur on the job.

Disadvantages

  • Can be intimidating and may not accurately reflect a candidate's true abilities.
  • This may result in a negative candidate experience.

How to Prepare?

  • Practice maintaining composure under pressure.
  • Familiarize yourself with common stress interview tactics.
  • Remember that the purpose is to observe your reaction, so stay calm and collected.

Technical Interviews


Technical interviews assess a candidate's specific knowledge, skills, and abilities related to the technical requirements of the job.

Characteristics

  • In-depth questions related to technical aspects of the role.
  • Often includes problem-solving exercises, coding challenges, or hands-on tasks.
  • May cover a range of technical topics, depending on the job.

Advantages

  • Evaluates a candidate's practical skills and expertise.
  • Helps ensure the candidate possesses the necessary technical knowledge for the role.

Disadvantages

  • May not capture a candidate's broader abilities or soft skills.
  • Can be intimidating, especially for those with excellent skills but nervous interviewers.

How to Prepare?

  • Review technical concepts relevant to the role.
  • Practice coding challenges or technical exercises.
  • Be ready to explain your thought process when solving problems.

One-to-One Interviews

One-to-one interviews involve a candidate interacting with a single interviewer.

Characteristics

  • Direct and personal interaction between the candidate and interviewer.
  • Allows for in-depth conversation and exploration of qualifications.
  • Often used in initial screening or final selection stages.

Advantages

  • Personal connection and rapport-building.
  • Opportunity for detailed discussions.
  • Quick decision-making due to direct interaction.

Disadvantages

  • Limited perspectives, as only one interviewer is involved.
  • May be influenced by individual biases.

How to Prepare?

  • Research the company and the interviewer.
  • Practice common interview questions.
  • Prepare specific examples of your achievements and experiences.

Video or Phone Interviews

Video or phone interviews involve remote communication between the candidate and interviewer.

Characteristics

  • Conducted over platforms like Zoom, Skype, or phone calls.
  • Allows for flexibility in scheduling and location.
  • Common for initial screenings and remote job positions.

Advantages

  • Eliminates the need for travel.
  • Convenient for both parties.
  • Accessible for candidates located at a distance.

Disadvantages

  • Technical issues can disrupt communication.
  • Limited non-verbal cues may affect understanding.
  • Potential for distractions in the candidate's environment.

How to Prepare?

  • Test your equipment and internet connection beforehand.
  • Choose a quiet and well-lit environment.
  • Maintain good eye contact and posture during video interviews.

Types Of Interview Formats

Now that you know about the types of interviews, let us take a deep dive in interview formats:

Individual Interviews

Individual interviews involve a one-on-one interaction between a candidate and an interviewer.

They are personal and focused on individual qualifications, allow for a detailed exploration of the candidate's background, and are commonly used in the initial screening and final selection stages.

Advantages

  • Establishes a direct and personal connection.
  • Facilitates in-depth discussions.
  • Enables a thorough evaluation of the candidate's skills and personality.

Disadvantages

  • Limited perspectives, as only one interviewer is involved.
  • Potential for individual biases to influence the evaluation.

How to Prepare?

  • Research the company and the interviewer.
  • Practice common interview questions.
  • Be ready to provide specific examples of your achievements and experiences.

Group Interviews:

Group interviews involve multiple candidates being assessed simultaneously by one or more interviewers.

Here, candidates participate in discussions or activities together.

They observe how candidates interact with each other, and are common in assessing teamwork and communication skills.

Advantages

  • Efficient for assessing interpersonal skills.
  • Provides a glimpse into how candidates perform in a group setting.
  • Saves time by evaluating multiple candidates at once.

Disadvantages

  • Limited individual attention.
  • May create a competitive atmosphere.
  • Some candidates may be overshadowed or not fully assessed.

How to Prepare?

  • Practice active listening and collaboration.
  • Be mindful of both verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Highlight individual contributions within the group setting.

Panel Interviews

Panel interviews involve a candidate being interviewed by multiple interviewers simultaneously.

This involves multiple interviewers from different departments or levels, allows for diverse perspectives and evaluations, and is very common in the final stages of selection.

Advantages

  • Comprehensive evaluation from different viewpoints.
  • Accelerates decision-making with multiple perspectives.
  • Reflects organizational collaboration in decision-making.

Disadvantages

  • Intimidating for some candidates.
  • Potential for conflicting opinions among panel members.
  • Limited time for each interviewer to ask questions.

How to Prepare?

  • Research each panel member's role and background.
  • Address questions to all panel members when responding.
  • Maintain eye contact and engage with all members.

Multiple-Round Interviews

Multiple-round interviews involve candidates progressing through several interview stages.

Characteristics

  • Sequential interviews with different interviewers or panels.
  • Gradual narrowing down of candidates.
  • Allows for a more in-depth assessment at each stage.

Advantages

  • Progressive evaluation for a thorough assessment.
  • Provides opportunities for candidates to showcase different skills.
  • Enables the organization to make informed decisions at each stage.

Disadvantages

  • Time-consuming for both candidates and the hiring team.
  • This may lead to candidate fatigue and burnout.
  • Increases the likelihood of scheduling conflicts.

How to Prepare?

  • Understand the specific focus of each round.
  • Reflect on feedback from previous rounds to improve.
  • Maintain consistency in responses throughout the process.

Informational Interviews

Informational interviews involve a candidate seeking advice or insights from professionals in their field.

It is Less formal than traditional job interviews and focuses on gathering information about a specific industry or role. It is a great opportunity for networking and building professional relationships.

Advantages

  • Provides valuable insights into the industry or company.
  • Builds a network of contacts for future opportunities.
  • Demonstrates genuine interest and initiative.

Disadvantages

  • Not directly tied to a job offer.
  • Requires effective networking and communication skills.
  • May not lead to immediate job opportunities.

How to Prepare?

  • Research the industry and the professional you are interviewing.
  • Prepare thoughtful questions about the industry or career path.
  • Treat it as a professional networking opportunity.

Computer-Assisted Interviews

Computer-assisted interviews involve the use of technology, such as AI or pre-recorded questions, to assess candidates.

It Utilizes software for screening and evaluating candidates and includes video responses to pre-set questions. It is efficient for large-scale recruitment processes.

Advantages

  • Standardized evaluation process.
  • Reduces bias in the initial screening stage.
  • Allows for flexibility in scheduling and location.

Disadvantages

  • Lack of personal connection.
  • Limited assessment of non-verbal cues.
  • Potential for technical issues.

How to Prepare?

  • Familiarize yourself with the technology used.
  • Practice answering common interview questions on camera.
  • Ensure a quiet and well-lit environment for video responses.

What Do Companies Look For During An Interview?

Companies look for a combination of skills, qualities, and attributes during an interview to assess a candidate's suitability for a particular role and their overall fit within the organization.

While specific criteria may vary based on the job and company, common aspects that companies typically evaluate include:

  • Technical Competence: Assessing the candidate's proficiency in the specific skills required for the job.
  • Problem-Solving: Evaluating the ability to analyze and solve job-related challenges.
  • Industry Knowledge: Understanding of the company's industry and awareness of current trends.

Soft Skills

  • Communication Skills: Clear and effective verbal and written communication.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration: Ability to work well with others and contribute to a positive team dynamic.
  • Adaptability: Willingness and capability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Cultural Fit

  • Values Alignment: Shared values and alignment with the company's mission and culture.
  • Team Compatibility: How well the candidate's personality and work style fit within the existing team.

Motivation and Enthusiasm

  • Passion for the Role: Genuine interest in the position and enthusiasm for the company's mission.
  • Drive and Initiative: Willingness to take on challenges and go beyond basic job requirements.

Problem-solving Abilities

  • Critical Thinking: Capacity to analyze situations, think critically, and make informed decisions.
  • Creativity: Ability to approach problems in innovative and creative ways.

Leadership Potential

  • Initiative: Demonstrating a proactive approach to tasks and responsibilities.
  • Decision-making Skills: Showing the ability to make effective decisions when needed.

Cultural Awareness

  • Diversity and Inclusion: Understanding and appreciation for diversity in the workplace.
  • Global Perspective: Awareness and openness to working in a global or multicultural environment.

Interpersonal Skills

  • Relationship Building: Ability to build and maintain positive relationships with colleagues, clients, or customers.
  • Conflict Resolution: Skills in resolving conflicts and handling interpersonal challenges.

Work Ethic

  • Reliability: Consistency in meeting deadlines and fulfilling commitments.
  • Time Management: Efficient use of time and prioritization of tasks.

Emotional Intelligence

  • Self-awareness: Understanding one's own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Empathy: Ability to understand and relate to the emotions of others.

Professionalism

  • Ethical Behavior: Upholding ethical standards in professional conduct.
  • Presentation and Attire: Maintaining a professional appearance and demeanor.

Companies aim to gauge these qualities through a combination of behavioral questions, situational assessments, and sometimes, skills-based tests or exercises.

It's crucial for candidates to be well-prepared to articulate how their experiences and skills align with these criteria during the interview process.

Conclusion

In this article, we explore structured, unstructured, situational, and many other interview styles and formats.

While they all vary in many ways, the one thing that is common to all is intensive preparation.

So, prepare with interview questions, check out the dress code for the interview, and research the company before you set out for your next interview.

All the best!

Interview Advice