What is an interview, and what are the different types of interviews?


Everyone, in their lifetime, participates in some form of an interview, from interviewing for school admission to media interviews to job interviews and many other different types of interviews. This blog will walk you through all the different types of interviews you might have come across or will likely be part of in the future.

Interview definition and types

Definition: An interview is a process in which two or more people meet and engage in a talk to accomplish a purpose. It has an interviewer or a panel of interviewers who ask questions and an interviewee who responds.

Types of interviews (based on context)

Interviews can happen in a variety of scenarios. Based on context, interviews are carried out for the following reasons:

1. Recruitment

Recruitment or job interviews help employers gauge candidates’ knowledge and skills like communication, body language and confidence. Two major types of job interviews are - scheduled interviews and walk-in interviews. For bulk hiring, mostly group interviews are conducted. And personal interviews are preferred during the final round of the hiring process.

2. Psychology

Psychiatrists interview their patients to assess causes that might have led to an unfavourable condition. A range of issues psychiatric interviews address include relationship issues, depression and anxiety.

3. Research

Research interviews are common at academic and business levels. While academic research interviews are for collecting information on a given topic, business-level interviews include market research, testimonials, feedback and surveys.

4. Journalism

Media interviews intend to collect opinions, facts and information on topics like politics, business, and sports. Types of media interviews range from TV to radio to print. It can be between a journalist or a radio jockey or an anchor and politician, businessmen and other famous personalities with motives like awareness and branding.

Types of interviews (based on their level of structure)

Based on the level of structure, the following are the types of interviews:

1. Structured interviews

Unlike interviews, where questions are based on the interviewee's experiences or followed based on previous answers, structured interviews have pre-decided questions. Interviewers ensure that they ask the same set of questions to everyone.

2. Semi-structured interviews

Semi-structured interviews are a combination of structured and unstructured interviews. The interviewers have a set of questions. However, they do not have to ask those questions in a particular order. Also, they can be flexible in asking a few questions based on the interviewee's past experiences.

3. Unstructured interviews

Unstructured interviews are freestyle ways of interviewing people and their past experiences. Questions are not pre-decided, or if decided, they are not asked in order. The next question the interviewer asks is largely based on the previous answer. However, such types of interviews can sometimes lead to unconscious bias.

Types of interview (based on the mode of interview)

Over the years, people have found ways to conduct interviews effectively. Following are various modes of interview you can choose to conduct interviews:

1. Telephonic interviews

Telephonic interviews are the easiest and most convenient way to interview people. The interviewee and the interviewer can take part in the interview from anywhere on the go.

2. Video interview

Video interviews are emerging in the new era of technology. They are a convenient way to conduct interviews, saving time and resources. You don’t have to decide on a venue or travel to a common place to conduct a video interview. You can carry out a video interview sitting at home. It could be difficult to gauge the candidates for body language. Hence, it could be wise to conduct an in-person interview for some roles if it is a recruitment interview.

3. In-person interviews

Until covid-19 restrictions, people preferred meeting in person to carry out interviews. Lock restrictions and quarantine gave rise to video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. While companies in large numbers adopted these platforms for corporate meetings and recruitment interviews, they were equally popular among educational institutions. However, today companies are back to offices and children back to their schools, and so are in-person interviews.

4. One-way video interview

Just like voice calls, you can record and send video interviews. You are given a set of questions that you answer and record them by being in front of the camera. They are generally used in job interviews for screening purposes.

Types of interviews (based on participants)

Based on how many people appear in the interview, the following are the types of interviews carried out:

1. Panel interview

A panel interview is when two or more people interview a single candidate. Panel interviews are common during campus recruitment, government jobs and bank interviews.

2. Group interview

Group interviews are when two or more people get interviewed. Many companies conduct group interviews to screen candidates. In group interviews, interviewers test candidates’ participation when they talk in a group. They test candidates’ presence of mind, knowledge, communication and confidence. Only those who qualify are shortlisted for a personal interview.

3. Personal interview

In job interviews, personal interviews are often the final round. It is a one-on-one interview with people from the senior management, CEO or the founder of the company. However, in campus recruitment, banking and government job interviews, personal interviews are carried out by a panel of highly experienced interviewers.

Types of interview (based on the nature of the interview)

Based on how well candidates are screened before scheduling the interview, the following are the types of interviews:

1. Scheduled interviews

When an interview is planned in advance, deciding time slots, matching requirements and vetting interviewee profiles and specific time slots are given to each interviewee; it is called a scheduled interview. Generally, scheduled interviews have a higher conversion rate because candidates are screened and assessed through various assignments and verifications.

2. Walk-in interviews

In walk-in interviews, each candidate is not given a specific timing. Many candidates arrive at the interview venue. And when it is their turn, they are interviewed.

Interviews are an almost inevitable part of human life. You must prepare yourself to do good interviews. It is one of the best ways to share experiences. Most people who fail to ace interviews lack practice. While mock interviews are the most effective way, practice before a mirror can be equally effective.

What is the most common interview type?

A personal interview is the most common type of interview. Nowadays, most interviews are scheduled, and candidates are vetted. Hence, to save resources, a personal interview is preferred to clip off other interview types like telephonic or group interviews.

What is the best interview method?

A structured interview is the best interview method. Over 70% of HRs worldwide consider adopting structured interviews (with an interview kit of predetermined questions) to free their hiring process from bias.

Why are interviews important?

An interview is the process HRs and decision-makers use to get well-informed about the candidates. Hence, interviews are essential to avoid scenarios of uninformed decisions and bad hires.

What is a formal interview?

Traditionally, most interviews took place in a professional setting where both the parties, the interviewer and the interviewee, appeared in formal attire to accomplish dialogue where the interviewer evaluates the skills of an interviewee based on his answers to a specific set of questions.

What is an informal interview?

Informal interviews are current-day interview methods that involve casual discussion to understand if the candidate has the required skills and is fit for the job. Both the candidate and the employer need not dress in formal attire.