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Any interview has the power to make an interviewee get hot and bothered, but what if you don’t even know what type of interview to expect? Sometimes you may even be faced with interviewing with more than one person, any of whom could have a different idea of what an effective interview should be. If you want an idea of the most common interview species / formats and why they may be chosen, read on.

1. If you’ve been in the job market for a long time or apply for an overabundance of positions, the most common type of interview scenario you will face is what can be called the “traditional” interview. Nearly every job seeker is familiar with this type of situation: you sit down with one person and answer scripted (and predictable) questions used to inform the interviewer on your appropriateness for a position. Nothing too surprising here.

2. The next most common form, the phone interview, is typically used as a screening process to identify candidates to move onto the “real” (read: traditional) interview. But don’t be overconfident since the phone interview is the only way to reach the full interview. As such, you should prepare for it as you would an in-person interview but adapted for a voice-only environment.

3. The video interview (or the phone interview for the Internet Age) is more and more becoming a regular part of job application processes everywhere. Since video interviews (e.g. Skype) are even more similar to in-person interviews, you will want to look and sound the part of the consummate professional.

4. A more specialized interview format is known as the case interview and involves the presentation of a business problem or intellectual puzzle to the interviewee. While by no means are case interviews a threat to overthrow more traditional formats, they are becoming more widely used to test candidates for consultancies, technology companies, and even government agencies.

5. Large, highly competitive companies (especially technology firms) typically like to utilize the puzzle interview format to determine how well candidates think on their feet when faced with an unexpected problem requiring intellectual agility and creativity. Unlikely and even bizarre puzzles may be presented here in order to gauge how an interviewee will approach and progress through tough, unpredictable challenges.

6. Possibly one of the most preferred interview types, the lunch interview, is intentionally casual and usually a positive sign that an employer already likes what they see of a candidate. Lunch interviews are performed over a meal and used to learn more about your social skills and how you act outside of the office.

7. Some industries still require apprenticing interviews where candidates are required to complete actual job tasks as part of the interview process. These occur when a company would rather see the work you can do rather than simply hear about it.

8. Team-based jobs or those where you report to multiple superiors may require an interview involving multiple people asking their own sets of questions at the same time. The difficulty here is not only of overcoming the intimidation factor of facing down multiple interviewers at once, but also of making sure to make positing, lasting impressions on each decision-maker.

No matter the type of interview you may be facing, preparation is the key. Know the job description, know the organization, perfect your elevator speech, and practice beforehand and you should be adequately prepared for anything an interviewer will throw at you.


– Joshua Bjerke  

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