University of Wisconsin–Madison

Interview Types and Methods

There are generally two types of interviews. The interviews vary based on their purpose.

Screening interviews are often used in the early stages of the hiring process. A screening interview is conducted to determine a candidate’s fit with the organization and the position. The screening interview typically is used to pare a slightly larger group of candidates into a smaller group of finalists.

Screening interviews are often completed in 20 to 30 minutes. These interviews may or may not be conducted by the final decision maker.

Selection and final interviews are used to determine the best individual for the position who is in the pool of candidates. These interviews vary significantly in length as well as structure and content. During the selection process candidates may be asked to demonstrate specific skills by making a presentation, teaching a lesson or providing writing samples. The interview process may require second and third interviews and may take place over more than one day. The selection process may include “informal” components such as lunch or dinner or meet and greet activities. While screening interviews may often be held off-site at events such as career fairs, the selection interview is commonly conducted on site.

Methods for conducting interviews may vary by the type of interview and/or the distance that is involved when the organization is connecting with candidates.

Screening interviews are often conducted by phone or at recruiting events such as career fairs and on-campus interview days, and may also be completed using virtual and video technology. Sometimes screening interviews are conducted by a person while other screening interviews utilize technology to provide the questions and record the answers.

Selection and final interviews are often conducted in person. During the final selection process, candidates may interview with a variety of staff members, sometimes meeting with each individual, or candidates may be interviewed by a committee or by a panel of organization representatives. Everyone, from the person candidates meet at the reception desk to the person that they meet in the hallway or in the parking lot, has the potential to provide input regarding one’s candidacy. It’s critical for candidates to realize that every person that they meet is evaluating candidates from their own specific lens: potential supervisor, colleague, community representative, cross-campus/school collaborator, etc.

Phone Interviews

A potential employer may want to do a preliminary interview by phone. If you’re prepared for the call, you can impress the interviewer.

Here are some tips:

  1. Turn off distractions. Take your phone into in a quiet room.
  2. Have all your tools in one place:
    • Résumé
    • Pen and paper to jot the interviewer(s) name(s) down immediately and to take notes during the interview
    • Company research (with relevant information highlighted)
    • Questions to ask about the company and position
    • A loosely written outline of points to make or items to cover as you talk about the position
    • A glass of water
  3. Dress the part for the interview. Experts say if you’re dressed in a professional manner, you’ll speak that way.
  4. If an employer calls and wants to do the interview right away (instead of setting up an appointment), excuse yourself politely and offer to call back in five minutes. This will give you time to make the psychological switch from whatever you are doing to your professional demeanor.
  5. Stand up to talk. Your position affects the quality of your voice. If you are sitting down or relaxing, you don’t project the same readiness and intensity as when you stand up.
  6. Talk only when necessary. Since you lack the visual cues of body language to assess whether you’ve said enough, mark the end of your response with a question, such as “Would you like more details of my experience as an intern with XYZ Company?”
  7. Let the employer end the interview. Then you should say “Thank you for your time,” and reiterate your interest in the position.
  8. Write a thank-you note to anyone who participated in the phone interview.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Video Interviews

Video interviewing is a convenient and cost-effective alternative to the traditional in-person interview for potential employers. However, there are format-specific elements that students and new graduates need to understand and consider when preparing for a video interview.

Your career center may offer a workshop on preparing for a video interview or mock video interview sessions so that you can practice before you participate.

Here are some recommendations for preparing for video interviews:

  • Understand the technology and be comfortable with it—Don’t sign up for a video interview until you’re comfortable with the process. Learn what you can and can’t do with the audio and video controls. Find out what your image looks like—and how to look your best—and where to look once the interview begins. Being adept with the technology gives you credibility as an “online professional.”
  • Consider image and the interview environment—Dress professionally as a video interview is an interview. Ensure the background of the interview area is consistent with the image you want to portray to recruiters. Remove or silence all distractions, such as cell phone ringers, e-mail alerts on the computer, music, pets, roommates, and more.
  • Test all settings and connections beforehand—Make sure the settings are optimized and all connections are working prior to the interview to avoid any issues during the interview.
  • Be prepared for a system hiccup—And even though you’re thoroughly prepared, have a Plan B ready in case the technology fails during a video interview. For example, have your cell phone ready to use in case the connection is unacceptable or drops. Being prepared in such a manner and making a smooth transition to another method in light of unexpected problems can impress an employer.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.