You customize your resume so it speaks to the specific opportunity you’re applying for. You painstakingly write a killer cover letter that’s so good you’d hire yourself if you could. Just as not all resumes and cover letters are identical, job interviews are all unique, too. The bad news? You probably won’t know what particular kind of animal yours is until you’re actually in the midst of it. That’s why it’s important to plan so you’re prepared for it and make the necessary adjustments seamlessly, whatever comes your way.  Here are some interview types of interviews you should be prepared for.


the phone interview

Once the hiring manager has narrowed down the hundreds of resumes they’ve received into a short list, most begin their hiring process with a phone interview. With time being a non-renewable resource, the phone interview is an opportunity for them to further narrow their search so only the strongest contenders move on to the in-person interview stage. Most HR departments will email you with a time you can expect a call.

But some don’t. That means that, even if you’re at the hardware store and your toddler is having a meltdown, you have to be ready to sell yourself at a moment’s notice, right after ‘hello’. Or maybe you’re just about to go into a marketing meeting and your team doesn’t yet know you’re looking for a new job. A successful phone interview is a whole lot easier if you suggest a time when you’ll be able to gather your thoughts, think clearly and speak openly. Also remember this isn’t the time to ask about salary, benefits, vacation time or other nitty-gritty details of your job offer. Save that for your in-person interview.

If this application is a one-off, you’re away to the races. If it’s one of hundreds you’ve sent, make sure you keep copies of your resumes and their corresponding cover letters handy and well marked so you can pull out the right one. The hiring manager will likely refer to it and you’ll want to ensure your responses are consistent and your questions appropriate.

the video or skype interview

Increasingly, organizations are turning to technology to assist in their hiring. Skype is the phone interview beefed up. This is especially true for opportunities where distance and location are obstacles or where you’re being interviewed by someone at head office in another province or country. You’ll likely know when this interview is coming as you’ll need to be logged in and readily accessible.

Remember, a skype interview is a visual as well as audio interview. Choose a quiet location at your office or home with few visual distractions. You want to look professional even if you’re connecting from your dining room table. Dress and prepare as you would for any professional interview. We highly recommend pants, too! It’s amazing how quickly you can forget you decided to forgo professional pants, and stand up to get something, your ducky PJs on full display. It’s an embarrassing situation waiting to happen, so just avoid it. Putting on pants for an hour won’t kill you. Dressing professionally will also help you get in the right mindset, even if you’re sitting on your couch.

the in-person interview

This is a traditional interview, where you’re called into the office of the hiring manager for a face-to-face meeting. Typically, you’ll meet with one person but don’t be surprised if there are more people in the interview or if you’re invited to meet with other team leaders or higher-ups. Stay cool – remember, you’re prepared – and try to connect with each person who is interviewing you. Here are some more general interview tips:

  • how to answer 17 common interview questions
  • how to answer ‘tell me about yourself’ in an interview
  • what to wear to a job interview
  • how to get past interview anxiety

the group interview

The group interview can be tricky as it’s not on you alone to stand out, and its success can often depend on who you’re paired with and your chemistry with your potential coworkers. Group interviews require you to be both a good team player who connects with the other interviewees in your group, as well as stand out individually. The most important thing in a group interview is to set yourself apart in the right way. Being the one who always speaks up first and doesn’t let anyone get a word in edgewise might make you stand out, but you’ll probably fail on the teamwork and collaboration portion of the interview, for instance. Strike a balance between contributing to the group and showing off your individual strengths.

the let’s grab coffee interview

This type of interview is harder to read than a typical job interview because it’s seemingly more casual. It could be your interviewer wants to put you at ease so they can get to know you better. However, you still need to treat it as a professional interview and reflect that in your preparation and responses. But you can be a little more informal in your demeanour.

Also: always order a coffee or some kind of beverage when you attend one of these interviews! Often people agree to meet for ‘coffee’ and then sit stoically with their hands clasped like it’s a formal interview. This can make you seem uptight and defeats the purpose of a casual coffee interview. So even if you don’t like coffee, grab a tea or hot chocolate or something to sip on. Having a beverage in hand will give you something to focus on, and can actually help you relax and be a better interviewee!

the test or working interview

Chances are if you’ve made it this far into the interview process you’ve already ‘passed’ a few other job interviews and this is the final test before you’re hired. Some industries may require you to demonstrate your skills, take a quiz, answer questions relating to a case study, perform IQ or personality tests, or even complete an actual task relevant to the industry you’re applying to. Or they may just fire questions at you regarding their particular organization to see if you’ve done any research.

Again, this is a case where your preparation will take you to the finish line. That said, don’t be afraid to ask questions and get to know your potential role if you’re given a task to complete. Even though you have the general skills required in the role, every job and company operate a little differently. It’s completely okay to ask questions. It shows you’re invested and curious!

One caveat for the ‘working interview’: be sure to set a limit on how much ‘free’ work you’re willing to do. Some unscrupulous employers may ask you to complete a week or more of work before they’ll even consider drafting up a job offer. This is not normal, nor should it be expected. If your potential employer asks for this, treat it as a big red flag!


Regardless of what type of interview you find yourself engaged in, stay positive and remember, at least you got an interview. As much as they’re interviewing you to make sure you’re the right candidate, you’re interviewing them to make sure it’s the right fit for you.

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