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Types of Interviews

The Directed Interview
The directed or directive interview involves the interviewer using an outline and asking specific questions within a certain time frame. The interviewer works from a checklist and takes notes. This type of interview is impersonal and seeks to reveal facts.

The Undirected Interview
The undirected or non-directive interview is unstructured and allows candidates to discuss their qualifications openly. This interview gives candidates a measure of control over the interview, providing for an opportunity to concentrate on strengths and to show leadership and organizational abilities.

The Panel Interview
A panel involves a number of interviewers. The composition of this panel could include:

  • The supervisor
  • The manager
  • A union representative
  • A human resources officer
  • An employment equity officer
  • Employees from the department that is hiring

Typically, members of the panel will ask one question that represents their area of concern. To succeed at this type of interview, it is best to anticipate and prepare for questions on a variety of issues related to the organization and to the occupation. Thorough company and occupational research will help you to prepare for such interviews.

The Group Interview
The group interview is used by some large companies or organizations for graduate intakes when several graduates are interviewed at one time. This interview can last from two hours to a day or longer and usually includes a group problem-solving exercise.

The interviewers may ask questions in an unstructured manner; therefore, the questions and comments may be unrelated to one another. This type of interview is used to:

  • Observe how candidates react under pressure
  • Evaluate how individuals interact with people with different personalities
  • Test for communication skills
  • Assess the "fit" with the group

It is wise to seek the advice of someone who has experienced this type of interview before engaging in this process.

The Sequential Interview
Some interviews are sequenced over a longer period, such as a half or full day. These interviews are used as an assessment tool. The first stage may begin with a panel interview, followed by a tour around the company (during which the assessment continues). The interview sequence may then conclude with another interview when you may be asked questions that test your creativity or your "fit" within the organization.

Further, you may be invited to more than one interview; for instance, the first may be an overall screening, followed by some form of assessment, then a post-assessment follow-up.

The Behavioural Interview
In behavioural interviews, candidates are asked to respond to questions that require examples of previous activities undertaken and behaviours performed. To succeed at this type of interview, be prepared to give accounts of how you have dealt with difficulties on the job. The purpose of this type of interview is to predict future performance based on past experiences. Become familiar with various types of interviews, as you may encounter interviewers who blend styles to suit the interview objectives and to test for employment readiness.

Telephone interviews are often used to pre-screen candidates in order to narrow the applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews. Telephone interviews are more cost effective because they are less time consuming and quicker to conduct.  Treat a telephone interview the same as you would an in-person interview.  Practice questions, ask for clarification, take notes and minimize distractions (turn off the TV and sit in a quiet place).

Job interview tests are commonly used because employers are often nervous about employing someone on the basis of interview performance alone. Tests are relevant to the job and may include: personality/aptitude testing; skill-based testing (math, verbal reasoning, and/or technical skills); and/or group activities (these usually involve a group of candidates applying for the same job. You're normally asked to complete a task together to determine how you perform under stress and work within a team).  There is little you can do to influence the results of a well-designed test.  Don't try to pretend you're someone you're not.