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Career Corner: Understanding the Different Types of Interviews

Posted By Tashania Morris, MSHRM, ALS, CDF, CPC, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The purpose of an interview is to find the best candidate for the position.  It is a weeding out process.  Companies use a number of different methods to achieve this.  Even with preparation, interviews can be nerve-racking because you never know what will be asked or required.  Being able to recognize the different types of interviews might help you to be better prepared.

One-on-One Interviews

Most people are familiar with this type of interview.  The interview is generally conducted with the interviewer and the candidate.  In this type of interview setting, the interviewer is interested in finding out about the candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities.  They may ask standard questions such as:

  • Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Tell me about your dream job.

Sometimes in one-on-one interviews, the interviewer might be looking for someone like themselves.  It is a dangerous thing to only hire people in an organization who talk and look alike.  There is little or no room for diversity, and this is often referred to as “mirror hiring.”  If the person is just like you, the company might be missing out on an opportunity to bring in someone with new and innovative ideas.

Panel Interviews


For many, panel interviews are nerve-racking.  They consist of two or more interviewers and the goal is to get as many people involved in the hiring process in order to make better hiring decisions.  Each person in the group or panel plays an important role and is looking for the best match.  They all have different perspectives and questions that will be integral in the decision-making process.  This process allows a number of different people to be a part of the interview process and make unbiased decisions. 

While panel interviews can be stressful, it is important to be yourself in any situation.  Be as honest as possible and ask questions.  This might be a great opportunity for multiple people to see how you communicate and interact when placed in a group.  The panel or group interview may be your second interview and the last opportunity you may have to prove yourself. 

Group Interviews

Group interviews generally consist of a couple of candidates being interviewed at the same time.  This is even more nerve-racking than being in a panel interview because your competitor is sitting next to you and you can hear each other’s responses.  If you mess up, not only will the interviewer know, but the other candidates will as well.  It is important to relax, be positive, and stand out from the competition.

Behavioral Interviews

The goal of the behavioral interview is to use past performance to predict future performance.  They want to see if you have the right competencies to be a good fit for the position.  The questions are normally structured around situations you have had to deal with in the past.  These questions provide the interviewer more information into the candidate’s thought processes. 

  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult client.
  • Please give me an example of a time you had a conflict with a coworker.  How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time you failed and/or struggled on the job.  What did you learn as a result of that?  What did you do to overcome it?
  • Give me an example of a time you led a project at work.  How many people did you lead and what was the outcome?
  • How has your education prepared you for this job?  Give some examples.

Phone and Video Interviews

During a phone interview, it is important to sound upbeat.  Practice with a friend.  Since you are not in front of the interviewer, your personality needs to shine through.  If you sound dull and mundane, the interviewer might get the wrong idea and think you are not interested in the job.  Phone interviews are a great way to conduct pre-interviews.  They give the candidate some information about the job and the interviewer gets to learn about the candidate. 

Video interviews are becoming commonplace.  They are a great way to conduct interviews in the comfort of one’s home.  It is important that even though you are at home you dress the part.  Do not show up to an interview looking like you just got out of bed.  Imagine you are wearing a great top and a pajama bottom and something happens where you are forced to stand up.  This could cost you a chance at the job.  Do everything you would do in an in-person interview.  Make sure your computer is working and sit in a section of your house that has great lighting.

If possible, find a friend to practice with.  The more practice you get, the better you will become.  Researching behavioral interview questions and getting comfortable answering them will help you during the interview process.  Your responses should give the interviewer an idea of how your work product would positively impact the organization.  At the end of the day, companies are in it to make money and they want to see how hiring you is going to improve their bottom line.  Be likeable and smile.  Remember, people tend to want to do business with someone they know, like, and trust. 

Tashania Morris, MSHRM, ALS, CDF, CPC, started her career as a paralegal.  She has over six years’ experience in the legal field specializing in the areas of foreclosure and bankruptcy.  She recently completed her master’s degree in human resource management which has equipped her with the tools needed to think strategically and develop creative solutions to problems in the workplace.  As a Certified Professional Coach and Career Development Facilitator, she loves all things career and personal development.  She is able to recognize people’s skills and abilities and enjoys working with individuals to figure out their “why.”  Her mission is to engage, empower, educate, and promote change from within.  If you have any questions about any of the articles written, suggestions about something you would like Tashania to write about, or enjoyed reading the article, send her a quick note.  You can reach Tashania at

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