Choosing an Interview Style and Format

Choosing an Interview Style and Format

Will Zimmerman

So you have a job opening, you’ve written a killer job description, posted it out to the job boards and now have a flood of candidates coming in. You’re ready to interview, but what kind of interview should you do?

Consider the different interview formats and styles you can use and the pros and cons of each so that you can make a great hire.


When interviewing you can choose almost any structure. You can have a single interviewer, a group interviewer or have a candidate complete multiple interviews with different individuals. Each have their pros and their cons.

Individual Interview

The individual interview involves a candidate sitting down with a single interviewer.

This approach is good because it allows for an in depth understanding between the candidate and the interviewer. Additionally, because it is only one round, the interview process is much quicker which is generally good for both the employee and the employer.

The cons are that the person doing the interviewing may not be the only person the candidate has to work for or with and as a result, other employees who will have to work with the candidate will be left out in the cold and would not be able to ask more job specific questions.

Group Interview

A group interview involves a panel of interviewers asking questions of the candidate.

The pros of this method are that it allows more employees to ask questions allowing the team to feel involved with the questions and to ask job specific questions that other interviewers may not know. Because it is also one interview, this process is relatively quick which makes the candidate more likely to accept if offered the position and makes the hiring process faster and easier for the hiring manager.

The cons include the lack of direct one on one communication means that the interview could lack depth that would allow the interviewer to determine if the candidate is a good cultural fit.

Multiple Round Interview

Alternatively, you can have multiple one on one interviews.

The advantage of this approach is that you get the benefits of the panel interview with multiple employees being involved in the hiring process as well as the one on one interaction that allows an interviewer to get a good feel for a candidate and better understand if they are a good cultural fit.

However, the downside is that this slows down the interview process because the candidate must complete multiple rounds of interviews. This could increase the risk you lose a candidate to another job or that it increases your cost of hiring.

Types of Questions

There are three common types of interview questions; standard, behavioral and situational. During an effective interview you should use a combination of all three and will have to decide which type of question is most likely to gather the information you need to make a good decision.


Behavioral interview questions ask about a specific behavior and ask the candidate to desribe a time they explained that behavior. An example of this type of question would be:

  • Describe a time you were unable to complete your work on time and how you handled it?
  • Describe a time you disagreed with a supervisor on an important issue?
  • Describe a time you had to work with others.
  • These questions are great because they allow you to see if a candidate has the skills you are looking for and has used them in the past.


Situational interviews look at the future and ask a candidate what they would do in a hypothetical scenario. These questions could include:

  • What would you do if a customer said XYZ?
  • How would you market our XYZ product?
  • How would you build XYZ?



When interviewing you should also give some consideration to the type of environment you place the candidate in. Should the interview be fast paced, challenging and stressful or the other end of the spectrum; a relaxed friendly conversation or somewhere in between.

*Note: Although stressful inherently sounds bad in an interview, that is not necessarily the case. A fast paced and in detailed interview can be great for determining a candidate's technical knowledge and ability to think on their feet. In this sense, stressful does not mean emotionally traumatizing but rather focused and fast paced.




Deciding which format you use during your interview is important because it will directly influence how much you are able to learn about candidates and how they perform. Consider the different formatting choices above and make the decision that best suits your organization and goals.

If you’d also like more information about how to interview and the other steps involved, follow the link for the complete guide on how to interview candidates.

We hope this helps your hiring process by allowing you to be more purposeful with your interview format choices.

Career Topics
Job Interviews