The job application process might involve several different interviews, each with its own focus. Learn more about the purpose of each, with tips on how to stand out.
Interviewing for a job may involve completing several different types of interviews, and each interview may have a different focus. For example, when you meet with a hiring manager, they may ask you a range of behavioral and situational interview questions to understand how your skill set and experience align with the role. You can also pursue interviews, such as informational interviews, which can illuminate a particular type of work, company, or industry.
In this article, we’ll go over the different types of interviews you may encounter throughout your job search. We’ll start with the interviews you’ll more commonly experience during a corporate interview process and then move on to other types.
The interview process varies by company and industry. In the tech industry, for example, it’s standard to complete a phone screen, hiring manager interview, technical or skills-based interview, and an onsite interview with several potential team members. But senior or leadership roles may require more stages.
Typically, a recruiter or company representative will provide you with the information you need regarding each interview: who it will be with, when it will take place, and how it will be conducted (in-person or video). You can also ask what the focus of each interview will be so that you can be better prepared for each step of the process.
Let’s review the standard interviews you may encounter when you’re being considered for a job.
Learn more: 11 Interviewing Skills to Benefit Your Career
A phone screen is usually a 15- to 30-minute phone call with a recruiter. While it may seem like an official interview, it’s really meant to verify the experience you listed on your resume and reveal what interested you in the role and your larger career goals. It can help to frame your story so a recruiter gets a broader sense of who you are.
At this stage, recruiters often contact several candidates who seem like a potential fit to gather information that will help the hiring manager decide who to begin interviewing.
A hiring manager interview is often your first official interview for a job, though there are instances when some companies may have you meet with a different interviewer or a panel of interviewers before the hiring manager.
This type of interview is an opportunity to learn more specifically about the available role and how your experience fits. You may receive behavioral interview questions that aim to understand you and your workplace and technical skills.
A second interview means you’ve impressed the hiring manager or the first interviewer, and you’ve made it to the next round. You may meet with any number of people at this stage. Interviews can be broken up into one panel interview or multiple interviews with a range of team members or employees (sometimes called an “onsite interview”).
You can expect more behavioral questions, along with some situational questions, meant to help interviewers understand how you’d respond to hypothetical scenarios. You may also need to elaborate on your technical skills.
Sometimes called a “case interview,” the skills-based or technical interview is one you may complete either face-to-face with an interviewer or on your own time. In either instance, you will need to complete a test designed to rate your technical competency. For example, copywriters may have to complete a writing test, UX designers may have to complete a whiteboard challenge, or software engineers may have to complete a coding test.
The final interview is meant to wrap up any lingering questions the hiring team may have about you. You may meet with the hiring manager once again, or with a different company leader or executive.
Learn more: Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview
Outside of a corporate job search, you'll find numerous other interview types that can help you gather important information about a job or industry, practice your interview skills, and more. Let’s go over these different options:
An informational interview gives you greater autonomy. When you’re interested in working at a company or performing a certain type of work, it’s a chance for you to reach out to a relevant person and find answers to your career-related questions. Informational interviews are informal conversations meant to guide your job search by helping you gain valuable details.
A mock interview is an opportunity to practice interviewing. Often, you will meet with someone—like a friend or career coach—who plays the part of the interviewer, and you will be the interviewee or participant. At the end of the mock interview, you should receive feedback about what you did well and any areas that could benefit from extra preparation.
A video interview is not a type of interview so much as an interview format. You can interview over video for any of the interviews we’ve discussed. While many companies tend to prefer Zoom for interviews, there is a range of videoconferencing software available to facilitate conversations with candidates.
A panel interview takes place with more than one person, such as a hiring committee. You may have to answer questions in a “round-robin” setting, wherein each person asks you a question before moving on to the next person on the panel. Depending on who participates in a panel interview, you can use it to gain important insight into how the team functions.
A group interview may sound similar to a panel interview, but it’s when there’s more than one candidate as opposed to more than one interviewer. With this type of interview, candidates are interviewed at the same time, so that employers can learn more about how you interact with others.
There may be times when a potential employer wants to meet with you “offsite” or away from their company’s office to discuss a job. Offsite interviews, sometimes called lunch interviews, can be formal or informal. There may be more distractions with this type of interview, especially when food is involved. In that case, try to pick a meal that isn’t overly messy and limit or avoid drinking alcohol.
This type of interview takes place at a career fair, where a company representative has typically been sent to recruit college students, recent graduates, or others interested in working for the company. The length can range from a brief screen (similar to a phone screen) or a longer formal interview, but the purpose is to gauge your interest in the company and your experience.
When you attend a career fair, it’s a good idea to research the companies you’d like to speak with in advance so you’re prepared in case an introduction leads to an on-the-spot interview.
Prepare for your next big interview with The Art of the Job Interview from Big Interview. Learn about how to answer basic and advanced interview questions, and practice with interactive tools. Get started with a seven-day free trial.
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