6 Different Interview Styles & How to Prepare for Them


Companies have a variety of techniques at their disposal when it comes to what interview style they want their recruiting team to use. From panel discussions, to conversational interviews to testing interviews, all are being used in today’s workforce. Below are some ways to prepare for each type of interview and what to expect.


Networking “Interview”:

What is it? These are the off the cuff interviews that can happen at networking events. You may not be prepared for it, you may not know it is happening but the person you are talking with is getting to know you and seeing if you are a fit for their organization. These can happen at Career Fairs, MeetUp Groups, Chapter meetings or any happy hour.

How to prepare? In my mind these are ones you can’t really prepare for but that doesn’t mean they are going to be hard. I think these can be the funniest, yet most interesting “interviews” to have. As someone who has been to plenty of Chapter meetings or Career Fairs, I find that this is the time I get to see someone for who they really are. Nothing is scripted, nothing is planned, it is just two people having dialog and getting to know each other.


Conversational Interview:

What is it? This is the “get to know you” conversation. These interviews can sometimes be over lunch or coffee. They are more relaxed and comfortable to partake in.

How to prepare? This is one where it can be a little tricky, as you don’t want to be “too relaxed.” You can come across as unprofessional or not up to the right “polish” level, but at the same time you don’t want to be too rigid and stiff that they can’t get to know you. Find that happy medium. Have some fun laughing about a joke and make sure your body language is relaxed. Don’t come dressed in jeans or sit slouched. Also, if it is over lunch don’t order a messy meal that gets food everywhere (it’s just gross).


Phone or Skype Interview:

What is it? These can come in all forms, they can be more traditional where they ask you behavioral questions or it can be a quick 15 minute “get to know you” conversation. They do have a benefit of saving gas and time for everyone. These are also the style of interviews that will be done for remote working roles.

How to prepare? Still dress up (especially on Skype interviews). Don’t be sitting there in your pajamas answering questions. Be polished, brush your teeth and comb your hair. If you are on the phone, have a mirror in front of you so you can see the way you speak (body language can be felt through the phone at times). Also, have your resume and job description for the role printed and in front of you.


Traditional Interview:

What is it? This is the interview style we all know and either cherish or loathe, either way you will experience this style in your job search endeavors. These are informational and scenario based interviews. They will ask things like “tell me your weakness, tell me your strengths” or “why are you the perfect fit for this role”. Finally, they are usually done in a conference room with one other person in a one-on-one setting.

How to prepare? These can be the easiest of interviews to prepare for. You can Google “traditional interview questions” and get thousands of hits on how to prepare for those questions. Always keep the basic rules in mind: research the company, know the role, be professional and mostly be yourself.


Testing Interview:

What is it? This is a task based interview. If you are a Developer they may ask you to write code, if you are an Analyst they may ask you to write out a requirement, if you are a Barista they may ask for a cappuccino. I have even seen Sales professionals asked to sell the product to someone walking down the street.

How to prepare? Know your craft and know it well! Be prepared to give a real life example of your skills. Practice, practice, practice.


Panel interview:

What is it? Typically, two or more people are conducting the interview (I have seen as many as 8 people in the room handing out questions). They can be intimidating at times, especially when they aren’t an organized panel of interviewees. There is a major benefit to a panel interview; you can complete all the steps of the interview process at once (a major time saver).

How to prepare? Know who you are, what you bring to the table and how you can help them as an organization. Prepare the same way you would for a one on one interview (practice questions they might ask you, research the company, try to find out who will be on the panel and mostly be yourself). Finally, the one difference between a panel interview and a one-on-one interview is you will need to adjust and act quickly. One person will be touching on culture questions, one may be doing behavioral questions and one may throw some “testing” questions your way. Be prepared to answer every style of question and adjust quickly.


Number 1 TIP:

Familiarize yourself to whatever style of interview the interviewer is using. If they are going fast and shot-gunning questions to you, respond quickly and deliberately. If they are having a conversation with you, get to know them as well and enjoy the ride. Prepare, adapt, adjust and have fun!

Have any more questions about interview styles? Please reach out to me, Jessica Gorski, and we can continue the dialog.