Job interviews do come in different shades/colours and can be so daunting for the unprepared.

Imagine a potential employer invites you for a brief chat but on entering the interview room, 6 pair of eyes glared at you! You just unknowingly walked into a panel interview!


You were invited for an interview and you painstakingly prepared for an oral interview, [you even practiced in front of a mirror] but alas! it turned out to be a written interview?

Anyone faced with any of these scenarios, will spend the first few minutes trying to adjust to reality.

In all honesty, interviews can be unnerving but understanding and knowing how to effectively handle different types/formats of interview can provide a great relief.

Types of interviews

1. Telephone Screening: an employer may give an initial phone call. This is used to reduce number of shortlisted applicants.  Candidates that fail to meet essential requirements can be rejected at this point to save time and resources. Needless to say, that this call is often without prior appointments.

Tips: Be up to-date on your job search records. Be phone courteous. If you are not prepared or your present location is noisy, please ask the caller to call you back. Give a specific time within 24hrs! Refer to your resume and be prepared for the second call!

2. In-Person Interview: This is one-on-one interview. This is the most common form of interview. At this stage; professionalism, right attitude, enthusiasm, and confidence are crucial to success.

Tips; Dress appropriately. Make a great first impression. Study your CV or Résumé. Always put your best foot forward!

3. Selection Interview: This requires answering series of questions including Essays, Multiple Choice Question, Personality tests, Psychometric tests etc. It could be written or computer based. The employer is looking to evaluate; level of intelligence, effective job match and best fit for the role.

Tips; Read the instructions carefully. Try and answer the questions as thoroughly as possible. Be time conscious.

4. Behavioural Interview: This is used to evaluate behaviour, attitude, achievements, character and competences based on previous work or leadership experience. It is based on the belief that past behaviour is an indication of future behaviour.


#1 Tell me about a time that you helped resolve a particularly difficult client issue.  

#2 Describe a situation in which an innovative course of action was necessary?

Tips; Share past (relevant) work experiences that showcase your strength and leaves good impression about you. Use the STAR approach -Situation, Task, Action and Results- What was the situation? What tasks were you given? What action did you take? What was the result or outcome?

5. Luncheon Interview: This is also known as ‘The Meal’. This type of Interview is usually conducted in a restaurant to assess social skill. Here, the employer assesses candidate’s communication and interpersonal skills as well as table manners.

Tips; Order a simple meal. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Remember your table manners. Pay attention. Don’t lose focus of the purpose of the conversation 

6. Stress Interview: The interviewer will do everything to frustrate candidate in order to test candidate’s patience during the interview. Multiple questions can be asked at the same time to evaluate how a candidate will handle stress on the job.

Tips; Exercise patience and take your time in responding to the questions. Don’t take anything personal. Be calm.


7. Group or Panel Interview: This will be done in the presence of three or more people whose main purpose is to evaluate candidate’s fit for the role. It may include other candidates for the position. It gives the employer multiple and objective opinions about each of the candidates.

Tips; Direct your answer to the person who asked the question, but try to maintain some eye contact with all group members. If other candidates are present, introduce yourself and be polite. Volunteer to respond first to a few questions.

8. Work Sample Interview: This gives candidate an opportunity to present, demonstrate or exhibit samples of previous work, projects or skills. This is mostly used for Architect, Arts & Craft professionals etc.

Tips; Master presentation skills and show confidence when describing previous work samples. Practice, Practice, Practice!

9. Peer Group Interview: This type of interview includes potential team members or co-workers who will scrutinize and ascertain candidate’s fit into the team.

 Tips; Maintain eye contact with everyone. Don’t be nervous. Smile, it shows confidence. Avoid the use of ‘I’ when responding to questions. Demonstrate team skills.

10. Case Interview: The candidate will be given a business problem or case study to solve. Candidate’s task is to identify the issues, present his ideas and make realistic recommendations. This is to evaluate candidate’s Presentation, Problem-solving and Communication skills including understanding of business problems.

Tips; Believe in yourself. Read carefully. Polish your presentation and communication skills. Be time-conscious. Know how to differentiate symptoms from the real issue.

11. Video Conference: This is an interview using an online video chat (such as Skype or Google Chat). It allows people to interview from different locations.

Tips; Practice before a mirror or a friend. Relax and try to maintain eye contact with the web cam. Ensure the computer and network connections are in perfect condition.

12 Assessment Centre: This involves a series of exercises given to candidates to evaluate suitability for the job through intense tasks and activities which could last up to 3days. In most cases, it combines different types of interviews- case studies, group work, peer interview, selection, panel interview, peer group and so on. This is to allow employers test inherent skills such as; Team, Presentation, Communications, Problem Solving, Interpersonal, Leadership, Social Skills.

Tips; Be active during group discussion but do not dominate the entire conversation. Compliment another candidate’s response and then build on it with your own thoughts. Volunteer to lead and involve every team member during group exercises, if need be.

Therefore, when next you are invited for an interview and you have no idea of the format, please familiarize yourself with various types of interviews as iterated above. Don’t be caught off-guard!

3 thoughts on “Understanding Different Types of Interviews

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