An Overview of the Different Types of College Interviews
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Robert Crystal in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- Screening Interviews
- Panel Interviews
- Group Interviews
- Behavioral Interviews
- Task-Oriented Interviews
- Stress Interviews
Screening interviews are typically conducted over the phone to gather information about you as a candidate. This interview type is screening you before you’re invited for a follow-up interview.
Screening interviews can be challenging because the person on the other end of the phone can’t see your face, so you’ve lost the visual component of expression. You’ll have to make up for that drop in energy with your voice. Try to sound enthusiastic, enunciate, project, and overall dial yourself up a bit more than you would in a traditional interview setting.
One type of in-person interview is the panel interview, which is a small group of people interviewing a candidate together. This interview setting can be more intimidating than others because multiple people are asking you questions, but the purpose is the same as a one-on-one interview, so there’s no need to be nervous.
The people on the panel will take turns asking you questions, and in addition to your answers, they will take note of how well you can redirect your attention and handle many pairs of eyes on you at the same time. In a panel interview, it’s best to look at the person who is asking you each question. When you respond to a question, you can reply to the panel at large, making eye contact with everyone rather than answering only the person who asked the question.
In group interviews, there will be multiple interviewees with you. These are interesting because in addition to sharing your own answers, you’ll also be listening to your fellow interviewees’ answers.
A critical thing to remember in a group interview is that even if you aren’t being asked a question, that does not mean you should zone out or stop paying attention. Staying present is crucial during any interview, including a group interview, because you’re showing the interviewers how well you can listen to what others have to say. You can demonstrate that you’ve been listening by referencing your fellow interviewees’ answers when you give your own.
Behavioral interviews focus on the qualities that you possess, framed through your past experiences. While in other interviews, you may be asked about hypotheticals, such as how you’d handle a situation described by the interviewer, behavioral interviews will include questions about how you’ve handled real situations throughout your life, conflicts that you’ve resolved, struggles that you’ve overcome, and similar topics.
Task-oriented interviews ask you to perform a task related to the skills that will be required of you in the setting for which you’re interviewing. This interview type is more common in job interviews than college ones, to get a sense of a candidate’s skills on the job. Task-oriented college interviews often take the form of auditions for performing arts majors.
Stress interviews are uncommon in a college setting, but they are sometimes conducted during medical school admissions. These interviews are designed to see how candidates fare under pressure—they’re designed to stress you.
A stress interviewer may scrutinize your responses to see how you respond to pressure or pushback. They want to see how calm and composed you can remain during an experience that may make you question yourself.
You will likely experience each of these interview types or a combination of them in your college career and throughout the rest of your life. Remember, you can always ask for clarification on the process of any type of interview.