different types of interviews demystified

Different Types of Interviews Demystified

Different Types of Interviews Demystified

This article will help taking the mystery out of the different types of interviews.

Different types of interview are designed to assess different elements of your professional competence, behaviour and personality. There are several different types of interview, so make sure you put your best foot forward by finding out the type that will be conducted and come properly prepared.

Below we have identified some of the most common forms of interview and outlined what the employer is looking for and how you should prepare yourself.

Interview types

Interview type

What the interviewer is looking for?

Competency-Based Interviews

Examples of how you have demonstrated the skills, attributes and attitudes required for the job

Case Study Interviews

Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills - the answer is not as important as how you solve the problem

Behavioural Interviews

How you behave in certain business situations

Lunch and Dinner Interviews

How do you conduct yourself in social settings, how developed are your social skills and do you handle yourself gracefully under pressure?

Phone Interviews

While you're actively job searching, it's important to be prepared for a phone interview at a moment's notice. 

Video Interviews

In the modern era, a lot of interviews are conducted this way. It is important to have a computer that can handle this, and be ready with the proper attire for the interview.

Advice on how to prepare for different interview types

Competency-Based Interviews

Competency-based interview questions require interviewees to give specific examples of times in which they demonstrated particular skills or attitudes. Generally, these questions require interviewees to describe a problem or situation, the actions they took to handle the problem, and the results of the situation.

What is the employer looking for? Competency-based interviews are used to allow the employer to quickly evaluate an interviewee’s mindset, and to gauge how the interviewee handles certain situations.

Interviewers may ask questions about a variety of competencies (skills and attitudes - see below) depending on the skills required for the specific job. For example, while an interviewer for a retail job may ask competency based questions about communication and teamwork, an interviewer for an upper management job may ask questions about leadership, independence, and creativity.

How to Prepare for Competency-Based Interview Questions

1. To prepare for competency-based interview questions, make a list of competencies that you think are important for the job for which you are being interviewed.

2. Look back at the job description for examples of required skills and attitudes.

3. Next, list situations in which you have demonstrated each of these competencies.

4. For each situation, write down the situation or problem, the actions you took to handle the problem, and the ultimate results.

5. Review this list before your interview. By thinking of examples before the interview, you will be better able to answer questions during the interview quickly and concisely.

How to Answer a Competency-Based Interview Question

Be Concise: It is easy to wander when answering a competency based interview question, particularly if you do not have a specific situation or problem in mind. Before answering the question, think of a specific example of a past situation that answers the question given. Provide a clear but concise description of the situation, explain how you handled the situation, and describe the results. By focusing on one specific example, your answer will be succinct and on topic.

Do Not Place BlameIf you are describing a particular problem or difficult situation (for example, a time when you had to work with a difficult boss), it may feel natural to attack or place blame on another person. However, these questions are about you, not about anyone else. Focus on what you did to manage the situation; do not dwell on other peoples’ issues or failures.

Examples of Competency-Base Questions: Below are a few examples of questions regarding different competencies.


Tell us about the biggest change you have had to deal with in your previous employment. How did you handle it?



Tell us about a situation where you failed to communicate appropriately. In hindsight, what would you have done differently?
Describe a time when you had to explain something complex to a colleague. What problems did you come across and how did you deal with them?


Tell us about a time in which you developed an unconventional approach to resolve a problem. How did you develop this new approach? What challenges did you face and how did you address them?


Tell us about a decision you made that you knew would be unpopular with certain people. How did you handle the decision-making process? How did you handle other peoples’ negative reactions?


Describe a situation in which you changed your approach in the middle of a project. What made you decide to change your approach? How did you work to implement this change smoothly?
Describe a situation in which you were asked to perform a task you had never performed previously.


Tell us about a time when someone asked you to do something you objected to. How did you handle the situation?


Describe a time in which you had to improve a team’s performance. What challenges did you meet and how did you address them?


How do you deal with stress?
Describe a time in which you received negative feedback from an employer, colleague, or client. How did you manage this feedback? What was the outcome?


Describe a time in which members of your team did not get along. How did you handle the situation?
Describe a time in which you were a member of a team. How did you positively contribute to the team?


Other Competencies

Interviewers may ask questions about a variety of other competencies, including accountability, ambition, approachability, compliance, conflict management, critical thinking, delegation, flexibility, inclusiveness, influence, initiative, resourcefulness, risk taking.


Case Study Interviews

What is a Case Study Interview? Analytical and problem-solving ability.
During a case study interview, the interviewee is given a business scenario and asked to manage the situation. The business scenario is usually one that the interviewee would likely encounter while working for the company. However, the interviewer may also ask IQ questions or give brain teasers that do not relate directly to the company

When are they used?

Case study interviews are used most often in management consulting and investment banking interviews

What is the employer looking for?

The interviewer wants you to demonstrate your analytical ability and problem solving skills. Most case study interview questions do not have one "right" answer. The interviewer is more interested in how you arrive at your solution. Interviewees are expected to interact with the interviewer, asking him clarifying questions in a logical, sequential order to resolve the given problem.

Tips for Answering Case Study Interview Questions

  • Paraphrase the question before answering to make sure you understand the problem.
  • Most companies allow interviewees to take notes during the interview; if so, you should do this. Along with lined paper, bring graph paper to the interview, in case you need to draw any charts.
  • Take your time answering each question; logically think through the problem before arriving at a solution.
  • Case study interviews are interactive; feel comfortable asking your interviewer clarifying questions to gain more information.
  • Always explain how you arrived at a solution, even if you are simply estimating a number; how you arrived at your answer is generally more important than the answer itself.
  • Remain as professional as you would during a regular interview; sit up straight, speak clearly, and make eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Have fun! Interviewers want to see that you are enthusiastic about resolving business problems; after all, these are the types of situations you will manage every day if you are hired.

Case Study Interview Practice

It is very important to practice for a case study interview, especially if it is your first one. A number of books and online guides provide tips and practice interviews to help you prepare. Many companies also offer sample case study questions on their website.

Practice answering case study interview questions in front of friends, family, or a career counsellor. Most case study interviews last 15-30 minutes, so time yourself.

What is a Behavioural Interview?

Candidates for employment often ask what the difference is between a regular job interview and a behavioural interview. There is no difference in the actual format of the job interview. You will still meet with an interviewer and respond to interview questions. The difference is in the type of interview questions that will be asked.

Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that a person's past performance on the job is the best predictor of future performance. When a company uses behavioural interviewing they want to know how you will act and react in certain circumstances. They also want you to give specific "real life" examples of how you behaved in situations relating to the questions.

What is the Employer Looking For?

In a behavioural interview, the employer has decided what skills they need for the job and the questions you will be asked will be geared towards finding out if you have those skills. The interviewer wants to know how you handled a situation, rather than just gathering information about you. In a traditional job interview, you will be asked a series of questions like "What did you like about your job?" or "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" or "What were your responsibilities?", which typically have straightforward answers, whereas behavioural interviews will be much more specific.

Examples of Behavioural interview questions

1. "Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it?"

2. "Have you had to handle a difficult situation with a supervisor? How did you handle it?"

3. Tell us about a decision you made that you knew would be unpopular with certain people. How did you handle the decision-making process? How did you handle other people’s negative reactions?

There are a variety of types of interviews that employers may conduct, including behavioural interviews, group interviews, phone and video interviews, second interviews, and even informal interviews held during a meal. Review the different types of interview, along with tips on how to carry off an interview effectively, regardless of the situation you're in.