Types, Methods and Styles of Interviews

There are basically two types of interviews – screening interviews and hiring-decision interviews.  A screening interview is used to further narrow the candidate pool and typically lasts between 15 to 30 minutes.  Hiring-decision interviews are generally more extensive, and usually lead to a job offer for one or more of the individuals in the candidate pool.  For a post-graduation, professional position, interviews may involve meeting with several groups of people over the course of several hours to a full day.

Interviews can be conducted in a variety of ways. The table below lists many of these ways and their purpose, which can depend on the type of position being filled.

Interview Method Co-op/Internship PositionsPost-graduation Positions
Phone*Screening or Hiring-DecisionScreening
Video conferencing*Screening or Hiring-DecisionScreening
In person on campusScreening or Hiring-DecisionScreening
In person at local employer site**Screening or Hiring-DecisionScreening or Hiring-Decision
In person at distant employer site**Generally Hiring-DecisionGenerally Hiring-Decision

*If you need a quiet space to conduct your phone or video interview, please contact our office to see if one of our interview rooms is available.

** Employers often take job candidates out to lunch or dinner to evaluate their manners and social skills, and to gather additional information that might not come out in a formal interview.

Interviews typically involve several different styles of questioning which are listed in the table below.  Understanding why certain questions are being asked can help with the formulation of effective answers.

Style of Questioning




Very common.  These questions focus on developing an understanding of information from a resume, career interests and how they align with the position/company, and approaches to hypothetical situations.

Why did you apply for this position?

Can you tell us more about your experience with AutoCAD?

Behavioral Based

Very common.  This line of questioning focuses on understanding how a job candidate utilized professional skills in the past, with the premise that past performance will predict future performance in a similar situation.

Describe a situation when you initiated a change or process to improve something.

Tell us about a time when you had to learn something completely new and explain your approach to this?

Technical/Case Study

Uncommon except when certain knowledge or skills are very important.  Employers usually give advance notice and tips on how to prepare. This may involve a standard aptitude test, a word problem, interpretation of data or another short exercise to demonstrate your knowledge, teamwork skills, and problem-solving abilities.

Write a short C program to compare two linked lists.

In your senior design project, what factors were involved in determining your material needs?

Given a specific problem situation, how would you approach developing a solution to the problem?


Rare.  These questions are used to analyze how well you think on your feet, describe a process or justify the reasoning for your choices.  Some might also analyze general estimating, process thinking, and problem-solving approaches.

Describe how you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?

How many golf balls do you think would fit in this room?