If it has been a while since you interviewed for a job, the process is always changing. But you should be prepared for any of these five different interview styles in the hiring process: screening, virtual, behavioral, panel, and case. Often, you could run into a few of the interview styles to get hired for one job, so it’s important to be prepared.

5 Interview Formats and How to Prepare for Them

Each type of interview is designed to evaluate a specific skill, training, or experience that would best fill the open job position.

1. Screening

This is the most basic type of interview and is usually conducted over the phone. It is designed to evaluate if you meet the basic requirements of the position. It is designed with questions that focus on your education, experience, skills and motivation for wanting this position. If you notice the first three question categories – education, experience and skills – are the same as what is found on your resume, so this interview is an extension of what is on your resume and looks at each of these areas in more detail.

How to Prepare:

  • Research the company and job requirements.
  • Have your resume and a notepad in front of you to write down questions that you may have come up during the interview and that you can ask at the end.
  • Pick a suitable location for the interview that is noise and distraction free.
  • Speak enthusiastically and with confidence.

2. Virtual

This interview is usually conducted over a video-conferencing platform, such as Zoom, Skype or Teams. During the pandemic, this interview replaced the standard in-person interview that most of us are familiar with, and it is still being used today. The format is similar to the screening interview with the same types of questions asked, but now the interviewer is able to see how you respond instead of just hear.

How to Prepare:

  • Check your connectivity ahead of time.
  • Choose a location that has a background that is clutter-free, noise free and without distractions.
  • Be professional to include dressing appropriately, maintaining eye contact and using positive body language.

3. Behavioral

This type of interview uses questions that are meant to assess your behavior and actions to situations that have happened to you in the past. The questions in this interview will examine your past performance and successes in previous jobs. They want to see how you reacted in the past as a predictor of how you would respond in the future when (or if) faced with similar situations on the job.

With these questions, there are no right or wrong answers – just real-life examples. While several industries use this type of interview, the technology, finance and healthcare industries tend to use this type of interview to assess if you would be a good fit into their corporate culture.

How to Prepare:

  • Be prepared to share real-life success stories that show how you behaved and responded to specific situations, in regard to leadership, teamwork, conflict and problem-solving.
  • Don’t say how you would respond, tell them a story of how you did respond in the past when faced with a similar situation.
  • Use the STAR method when responding to asked situations – Situation, Task, Specific actions, Result – Using this method demonstrates your thought process.

4. Panel

Also known as a board or committee interview, usually two or more people sit on the interview panel. Those sitting on the panel could range from the company CEO down to a peer – a person in a similar job that you are applying for … or anyone on the corporate ladder in-between.

This type of interview is designed to see how you react under pressure and whether you can think on your feet or not.

How to Prepare:

  • Research who is going to be on the panel – especially their job titles – by asking the recruiter. Your response will be different depending on the position level of the person asking the questions.
  • Create questions to ask each panelist to show your enthusiasm and motivation for the job.
  • Because communication is key, practice interviewing in a group dynamics using friends or family as panelists.

5. Case

This last type of interview is designed to test how well you can evaluate, analyze and solve a challenging business situation. Typically you will get handed a case study – either fictional or real – and ask to form a logical and supportable argument for your solution. It is designed specifically to test your analytical, logical reasoning and problem-solving skills … while under pressure.

How to Prepare:

  • Practice responding using past case-studies. Research some relevant ones you can find online in your industry and use those to prepare.
  • Ask clarifying questions. You need as much information or data as possible to arrive at the most intelligent solution.
  • Bring a notepad to the interview so that you can write down thoughts and questions after you receive the case.

Preparation is Key

Once your resume and cover letter have done their job and gotten you to the next level in the hiring process, it is up to you to prepare for the type of interview used by the recruiter, company or hiring official. Being prepared for all of these types of interviews gives you the best chance of success and the ability to keep moving through the interview process. It is not unusual in today’s business climate to have at least two or even three interviews before a hiring decision is made.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.