Interview Formats to Use When Hiring

Female interviewer sitting at a desk next to a male interviewer shaking hand of a female interviewee

For most companies, interview formats look slightly different than they did a few years ago. Whether you’ve started using Zoom to screen candidates or switched to a fully remote onboarding process, you’ve probably adjusted how you hire, thanks to technology. 

We anticipate that we’ll be seeing more companies embrace alternative types of job interviews in the years to come. Deviating from the traditional interview format can offer many upsides, including lowering hiring costs, shortening your hiring time frame, and dealing with a higher-than-normal volume of applicants. 

As you continue to adapt your interview process for speed, quality, and safety, here are some of the most important things you should know about interview formats.

What is an Interview Format?

Interviews can occur in various ways, and the interview format is how you organize an interview. There are unique structures that can be useful for different interview scenarios. You can schedule the appropriate interview format depending on the job opening and the interview logistics. It’s important to let the candidates know what interview formats you choose so they can prepare and keep it consistent for each candidate for fairness. 

The Difference Between Interview Formats and Interview Styles

Interview formats define the where, how, and who of the scenario. People often talk about the importance of interview styles as well, but that refers to the method of asking questions. The interview style helps the person developing the questions determine the types of questions to be asked. You might use a goal-driven, question-answer, structured, controlled, or unbalanced interview style. While those are important to consider, the focus here is all about interview formats. The format should be locked in first, so this is a great place to start. 

Types of Interview Formats


This is the most common interview format and the one that most people are familiar with. It includes one interviewer, one interviewee, and a period of questions and answers lasting roughly 30 to 60 minutes. The traditional interview format is the most-used style of interview for many reasons. It’s straightforward, it gives you a chance to build rapport, and in most cases, it gets the job done to determine whether a candidate knows their stuff.

The traditional interview, however, isn’t without its share of drawbacks. For starters, the short window of time you spend with the candidate gives you a limited chance to assess them. You’re also limited to the views of a single stakeholder—the person conducting the interview—which can be subject to bias. All kinds of outside factors could influence how the interview goes, from the setting to how long you’ve had to prepare to the candidate getting in a fender bender on their way over. You must make a big judgment call based on a small moment. 

  • The format is simple to understand and familiar to most people.
  • Good for seasoned hiring professionals with a large pool of candidates and a good understanding of the role. 
  • Screen candidates beforehand, and don’t spend the interview reviewing the resume information.
  • Be careful of hiring bias. 


A group interview consists of one interviewer and multiple candidates in a round-table-like setting. These types of interviews are perfect for when you’re hiring to fill several slots at once, like seasonal hiring for retail positions or in cases where you want to see how the candidate interacts with others. 

In a group setting, the interviewer might direct specific questions to individual candidates or pose a question to the group and put it up for general discussion. In roles that require teamwork, this interview style can be a nice way to gauge whether applicants feed off the energy in a group setting or close themselves off when confronted with a collaborative environment. 

When conducted efficiently, group interviews can be a highly effective way to engage with multiple candidates in one sitting, which is especially useful if you’ve had a high volume of applications. Seeing the applicant interact directly with one another can also give you a clear picture of who might be a stronger candidate for the role.  

  • Allows the hiring team to evaluate the differences and compare the candidates simultaneously.
  • Provides an opportunity for candidates to interact with each other. 
  • The group format saves a lot of time if completed effectively. 

Related: How to Conduct Group Interviews


In a panel interview, the candidate sits down with multiple interviewers simultaneously. The panelists typically represent different parts of the organization or may even be from outside the organization. These interviews are an excellent tool for getting multiple perspectives on a candidate, which is a great way to minimize hiring bias. 

Though panel interviews can be more intimidating for candidates than a one-on-one setting, they offer the opportunity for them to get to know more than one person, which is useful in identifying culture fit. For senior roles or leadership positions requiring candidates to meet with multiple stakeholders, it can save you the time to schedule two or more separate interviews. 

Meet before the interviews to determine who will lead the interview. The leader will keep the interview on track. Review the roles of each participant ahead of time, and you’ll understand 

  • A panel allows multiple perspectives on a candidate and reduces bias.
  • The candidate can meet a few people in one sitting. 
  • A superior format for high-stakes positions or niche positions that require technical skills.


The case interview format requires the candidate to analyze and solve a business problem. Usually, the problem is something the interviewer has worked on in real life. The interview is more of a dialogue to work through the solutions. As the candidate solves the problem, the interviewer can ask follow-up questions. 

These interviews are common in management consulting positions and are gaining popularity in more operations and marketing positions. It provides a deeper insight into how the candidate thinks and works through workplace problems. Find out how they apply structured frameworks and creatively think outside the box. 

There are no correct and standard answers in these interviews. Each problem has multiple solutions, so this is an exceptional way to provide candidates with the chance to showcase a little more of their business acumen. 

  • Give as much detail about the problem being discussed in the interview to avoid the candidate having to clarify. 
  • Interviewers should take clear notes throughout the interview.
  • This format is best when testing a candidate’s skills and knowledge in a certain field. 


The virtual interview format is an interview that doesn’t require an in-person meeting. It has many more advantages than just keeping everyone socially distanced, but this format became incredibly helpful during the pandemic. Now that the majority of companies have increased their technical capabilities and can utilize this format for interviews. 

Video interviews can save you considerable money on travel expenses if you’re interviewing candidates from outside your geographical area. They can also save time since they can be conducted from pretty much anywhere. It’s easy to fit them between meetings or outside of normal operating hours and accommodate candidates in different time zones. 

Video interviews are highly useful when you have a large pool of applicants; use them as a screening tool before bringing candidates in for an onsite meeting. You’ll miss out on reading body language, but there can be a second round of in-person interviews to fix that. 

  • Best format if you have candidates and interviewers in multiple locations.
  • Know how to use the technology before scheduling interviews to minimize issues. Send clear instructions for the video conferencing platform ahead of time so candidates can adequately prepare
  • Ensure you are in a well-lit space with no distractions and a strong internet signal.

Related: Virtual Job Interview Tips for Hiring Managers


The technical interview format is used for jobs requiring specific technical knowledge, like developers, IT, and engineering positions. This format includes questions and challenges that are relevant to the job’s seniority and skills. The interviewer is someone who possesses the knowledge and experience to assess the candidate’s responses properly.

Technical interviews may present the candidate with a problem they must solve using the skills required for the job. It can be harder to schedule these interviews because they require the interviewer to feel confident in their own capabilities and know how to conduct an interview. Without conducting an interview in this format, you may be at risk if you hire someone incapable of completing the job.

  • Format the interview with the easiest questions at the beginning and have them get progressively harder.
  • Any job opening requiring technical skills or in the tech industry should consider utilizing this format in their hiring process.
  • Technical interviews are time-consuming, so screening the candidates before scheduling this round is best.


A multiple-round interview format involves a single candidate sitting down with multiple interviewers throughout the course of the hiring process. It allows the candidate to meet with multiple people in separate interactions, which can lower biased hiring. Each interviewer can develop their own opinions about the candidate and score their skills and interview responses to choose the best candidate. 

This is a fantastic method to determine a fit in the company culture. With each interview being conducted by a different person, you’ll get the chance to see the interactions with multiple personality types and communication styles. The decision typically requires a consensus among the interviewers before a job offer can be presented. 

  • Multiple interviews are great for job positions that must interact with various other departments and positions.
  • Set expectations up front as much as possible so candidates can prepare for the process. 
  • Don’t wait too long between each interview. Candidates typically want to move through the process as quickly as possible.

Phone Screen

Phone interview formats are typically the first step in the hiring process. Suppose a job opening receives a high quantity of resumes and applicants. In that case, it’s important to narrow the pool of potential candidates to a reasonable number before bringing them in for traditional or virtual interviews. The phone screen allows a hiring authority or recruiter to talk to the candidate and get additional information to determine if they are a good fit. 

Determine ahead of time the qualifications you’re looking for and then schedule phone screens for the candidates who meet those qualifications. Verify the information on their resumes and have a set list of questions you want to ask during this phase. It’s a smart time-saving method. 

  • Be consistent with the questions on phone screens to ensure fairness across the board. 
  • Have the hiring manager/recruiter take detailed notes to pass along to the interviewing manager.
  • Save some time to allow the candidate to ask questions to determine if they want to move forward in the hiring process. This will help avoid wasted time in the future.

Related: How to Conduct a Phone Interview


The most casual interview format is the informational format. This is a friendly conversation between a potential candidate and someone working in the organization they want to apply for. This lets people ask questions and hear more about the company culture and work environment. Often, these conversations come from networking events and can help build a bench of potential candidates. 

  • Informational interviews involve more dialogue and allow the potential candidate to ask most of the questions.
  • These might not be about a specific job opening but the company instead. 
  • Communicate with your employees and give them some basic information to share with any interested parties to provide easily accessible information and make it easy for them to share with others in the same field. 

Hire More Efficiently with Help from the Staffing Pros

Choosing the right types of interviews to use with candidates is one path to hiring success. Working with a trusted staffing partner is another. 4 Corner Resources is an Orlando-based staffing agency that can help you hire more efficiently and at a lower cost than recruiting, screening, and interviewing candidates on your own.

Contact us today to learn how working with a professional headhunter can benefit your organization.


How do I know which interview format is best?

Each interview format has pros and cons, so when you’re choosing an interview format for your job opening, it’s important to consider what information would help you find the most qualified candidate for the job.

What are the big differences between virtual and in-person interviews?

Virtual interview formats have been incredibly helpful during the pandemic and as remote work has become more popular. You’ll miss out on body language and in-person interaction, but the technology is strong and a great alternative when people are in different physical locations.

Why are there numerous interview formats?

Each job and company is unique, so there may be various requirements and qualifications to meet to fill an opening. Utilizing variations of interview formats will help you figure out different kinds of information. Technical interviews can help test a candidate’s abilities, or group interviews can test their ability to collaborate. Knowing the pros and cons of each will help you determine the best fit. 

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Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn