Different types of interview

There are several different types of job interview and you should be aware of these as your preparation for each will need to be different. The interview type will affect the actual format of the interview and the types of questions that you will be asked.

Recruitment agency Interviews 

You should treat the recruitment agency interview just as seriously as you would an interview with an employer.  Your experience (as shown on your CV) must have impressed the agency recruiter, however he or she has a duty to only submit the very best or most suitable candidates to the employer. Make sure that the recruitment consultant can see how keen you are on the job and dress and present yourself exactly as you would for the employer interview. Remember the recruiter may be interviewing quite a number of candidates before making a final short list for submission to the employer.

One further feature of the agency interview is the amount of extra information that the recruiter can give you.  Use the agency interview as a key element in your preparation for the interview with the employer. I’ll cover this in more detail later.

What other different types of interview might you encounter?

Whether the interview is with a recruitment agency or with an employer there several different interview formats.

Telephone Interviews

Employers and recruitment agencies tend to use telephone interviews to “weed out” candidates so that they can make a short-list for face-to-face meetings. The telephone interview may be quite short and possibly unscheduled. One more reason to have a dedicated job search phone so that you know that a call on that phone is related to your job search.

Informal Interviews


Beware! This may be the most difficult type of interview. Sometimes held in an informal setting (perhaps in the lobby of a hotel or some other offsite venue), this type of interview might seem like a gentle chat with an old friend but don’t let your guard down. Your casual answers may reveal more than you would wish!

 Formal interviews

This type of interview is generally characterized by a very structured interview format and might typically be undertaken by a senior manager, sometimes accompanied by the HR or Recruitment Manager.

Panel Interviews


It’s not unusual for large organisations to select candidates with a panel of four or five interviewers. It’s always difficult to “read” so many different people and of course you need to make sure that you engage properly with each member of the panel using good body language and eye contact.

Stress Interviews 

The stress interview is designed specifically to put the candidate under stress or pressure. Interviewers may ask difficult questions, constantly interrupt and disagree with the candidate’s responses to questions. The purpose is to establish how the candidate reacts to stressful situations.

Competency or Behavioural Interviews

Many employers are now starting to train their managers in the most effective interview techniques and the “competency” or “behavioural interview” is by far the most prevalent.

Biographical Interview

These interviews are very often conducted by HR and are designed to check your background. Typically the interviewer will want to confirm all the details of your career and qualifications as shown on your CV. Make sure that you are clear on dates and the details of your qualifications.