Communication situations

In a business setting, you’ll likely take part in various types of communication situations while working with your colleagues and superiors. 

Some of these communication situations may be formal, structured, and planned in advance. 

Others may be informal, less structured, and spontaneous. 

Some may be a combination of these factors.

In this guide, we’ll talk about the types of communication situations you may find yourself in while operating in a business environment — from various types of conversations, meetings, feedback, and public speeches, to various types of job interviews, negotiations, and conflicts. We’ll also illustrate each situation with a suitable example.

Conversations

According to the definition in the Cambridge dictionary, conversations involve communication between two or more individuals, during which “thoughts, feelings, and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered, or news and information is exchanged”. 

Conversations may include and combine various types of communication:

  • Written communication, which may:
    • stand on its own (e.g. a string of direct messages in a chat app discussing the details of a task);
    • serve as a means to plan further communication, in which case written communication may lead to verbal communication (e.g. emails and direct messages in the line of “Do you have a minute to talk?”/“Can you come to my office for a moment?”).
  • Verbal communication, which may: 
    • be planned (e.g. be a result of “Do you have a minute to talk?”/“Can you come to my office for a moment?” messages);
    • be unplanned (e.g. you start talking with a teammate when you two accidentally start making coffee at the same time);
    • be followed by nonverbal communication that adds additional meaning to your words (e.g. looking at your watch while talking with a colleague may signal that you want to end the conversation soon).
  • Nonverbal communication, which may come into play if the communicators can see each other, but are currently standing too far away to communicate verbally (e.g. you raise your hand with a thumbs-up high in the air, to signal approval to a colleague standing at the opposite end of a large hall). 
  • Visual communication, which may:
    • be coupled with verbal communication (e.g. you print out an image and show it in-person, to start a verbal discussion about it );
    • be coupled with written communication (e.g. you attach an image to a direct message in your team chat app, to start a written discussion about it).
  • Active listening, which is a crucial element in verbal conversations, as you’ll need to listen and understand what others are trying to convey, to reply appropriately.

Conversations may be planned or unplanned, and they may happen between colleagues, or between employees and their superiors

Here’s what each listed type of conversations is about:

Planned conversations

Planned conversations are discussions in which the subject matter being discussed had been given previous thought. 

Such conversations may occur between two individuals, in which case we refer to them as 1-on-1 conversations. Or, they may occur between more than two individuals, in which case they may be referred to as group discussions

In cases when the conversation is expected to be a more difficult one, you may want to take some precautions to help you feel more prepared and more in control:

  • think about what you want to say;
  • think about how the other people may respond;
  • think about how the conversation may unfold;
  • think about how the conversation may end. 

If the conversation is planned in advance by all parties, with a clear agenda, date, time, and place, it is usually referred to as a “meeting”.

🔸 Example:

An enterprise sales specialist wants to show her boss how much she works and how much she has contributed to the company’s goals, so she writes him an email about the work she has accomplished in the previous period. In response, she gets a commandment for her dedication and hard work.

An email detailing employee accomplishments to the boss — image source: Clockify.me

Unplanned conversations

Unplanned conversations are conversations that happen on the spur of the moment. 

Such conversations may also occur between two individuals (in which case we may refer to them as 1-on-1 conversations), or between more than two individuals (in which case we may refer to them as group discussions)

They may start as informal and grow into formal conversations, but they may also start more formally, and lead to more informal topics later. 

In cases when the unplanned conversation is a difficult one, it is usually triggered by strong emotions and may leave the communicators with strong emotions. 

🔸 Example:

A website designer goes to the kitchen to have lunch, where she finds her colleague, a front-end software developer, already having her lunch. As they eat their lunch, the two colleagues talk about what they did over the weekend, but the conversation quickly turns to a semi-formal discussion about the design solutions for the website landing pages of their newest client.  

Conversations between colleagues

Conversations with colleagues involve conversations between two or more employees who are in the same hierarchy level in the organization’s structure. 

The subject and context of the conversation may be formal or informal, depending on the situation.

🔸 Example:

A front-end software developer sends a direct message to a back-end software developer sitting next to her, via a team communication app: “Do you have a minute?”. She wants to ask him about a specific piece of code.

Although the back-end software developer in question has his headphones on and is seemingly fully-focused on a task at hand, he takes off the said headphones and engages in a quick conversation with the front-end software developer. 

This is a case when a written conversation leads to a face-to-face verbal conversation.

Conversations between employees and superiors

Conversations between employees and their superiors, such as managers, are conversations between two or more professionals who are NOT in the same hierarchy level in the organization’s structure. 

The subject of the conversation may also be formal or informal, depending on the situation — however, considering that the two individuals do not belong to the same hierarchy level, the subject and context of the conversation are more likely to be formal.

🔸 Example:

The chair of the department of pediatrics sends a message in a public channel of a chat app to a group of pediatricians: “Can you come to my office for a moment?”. He wants to discuss the health of a recently admitted patient. 

The pediatricians arrive shortly, and they engage in a quick discussion.

This is another case when a written conversation leads to a face-to-face verbal conversation.

Feedback

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, feedback is “the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source”. 

In terms of structure, feedback may be:

  • Unstructured feedback, i.e. unplanned in terms of timing and content (e.g. providing quick praise or reprimand);
  • Structured feedback, i.e. systematic in terms of communication, with a clear plan for timing and content (e.g. performance reviews).

In terms of constructiveness, feedback may be:

  • Positive feedback — affirming comments about past behaviors that should be continued;
  • Negative feedback — corrective comments about past behaviors that should not be repeated;
  • Positive feed-forward — affirming comments about behaviors that should improve performance in the future;
  • Negative feed-forward — corrective comments about behaviors that should be avoided in the future.

Feedback may occur:

  • On the spur of the moment, in which case it is usually informal;
  • On a regular basis, in which case it is usually formal. 

Sources of feedback in a business setting may include:

  • Customers — they rate the quality of products and services provided, via surveys or a complaint system; 
  • Statistical data — they include statistical measures such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that provide objective information about the performance of individuals;
  • Superiors — they include supervisors, team leaders, and managers who can offer performance feedback that compares the individual’s performance to the expected workflows, procedures, and policies;
  • Peers — they include co-workers who work in the same or similar job positions, and can thus provide performance feedback from the point of view of a person who performs the same or similar types of tasks and duties;
  • Subordinates — they include employees who offer “upward feedback” to their superiors, such as feedback about the leadership styles of their managers.

The dominant types of communication used for feedback are:

  • verbal communication, coupled with active listening, for the best effect;
  • written communication, sometimes coupled with visuals.

According to Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, the authors of “Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well”, there are three distinct types of feedback in the workplace: evaluation, appreciation, and coaching feedback.

Here’s what each is about:

Evaluation feedback

The purpose of evaluation feedback is to help the person receiving it understand how they have performed in a task, to better understand what is expected of them at work. 

Evaluation feedback may involve:

  • a rating or ranking system that compares employees against each other;
  • a set of standards that compares employees against the said standards;
  • both a rating or ranking system and a set of standards. 

For evaluation feedback to be successful, it should involve:

  • timeliness;
  • clear expectations in terms of roles and responsibilities the employee will be assessed for;
  • a clear purpose, in terms of what the feedback will focus on;
  • accountability for the processes and results;
  • clear records of the employee’s progress.

🔸 Example:

A sales manager writes an evaluation feedback review in a Google doc, detailing praise and improvement tips for an enterprise sales specialist, in terms of her innovation and creativity, collaboration and teamwork, customer service, problem-solving, and communication skills in general. 

He sends her the link to the Google doc via a direct message in a chat app. 

A link to evaluation feedback — Pumble chat app

Appreciation feedback

The purpose of appreciation feedback is to show appreciation or thank an employee for their performance and contributions. 

Such feedback is a great tactic to build trust and encourage the employee receiving the feedback to keep up the good work, as their efforts will likely be recognized and appreciated in the future as well. 

To make appreciative feedback successful, it’s best that you:

  • Make it specific — so that the person understands what they did to deserve praise, and what they need to continue doing;
  • Link it to specific value — so that the person can better understand their roles and responsibilities in a company, as well as their importance and level of contributions to common goals;
  • Make it authentic — so that the person understands that the feedback is genuine and sincere, and not mere courtesy or a part of a routine.

🔸 Example:

At a daily stand-up meeting with the product team, the team leader praises a product designer for his recent redesign of a product, in terms of innovation, design, and practicality. He also links the successful redesign with the recent growth of sales for the said product. 

Coaching feedback

The purpose of coaching feedback is to provide the person receiving the feedback with regular and annual reviews that will inspire them to strive for further growth and improvement. Such feedback may have elements of both evaluation and appreciation feedback.

🔸 Example:

A customer support director providing the members of his team with coaching feedback on a bi-monthly basis. He organizes 1-to-1 meetings for this purpose and provides feedback to each individual customer support specialist in person.

Meetings

According to the definition, meetings are a more formal gathering of two or more people that have the purpose of discussing a particular topic, sharing particular information, or reaching an agreement. 

Meetings may occur face-to-face or be conducted via telephone or video conferencing. 

The types of communication that prevail in meetings are:

  • Verbal communication, which is the dominant type in such communication situations;
  • Nonverbal communication, which may accompany verbal communication in a significant amount;
  • Visual communication, which may come into play if there is a whiteboard in the conference room where the meetings are held, in which case it may be used for mind maps, loops, and other visualizations of ideas;
  • Active listening, which is especially vital in meetings, considering that verbal communication is the dominant type. 

In contrast, written communication is rarer. But, it may come into play if the regular meeting cannot take place — for example, the person who usually helms daily stand-up meetings is currently unavailable, so she asks the expected attendees to write what they are working on today in a thread in a team communication app. 

A thread detailing a written stand-up meeting — Pumble chat app

We recognize kickoff, status update, decision-making, problem-solving, innovation, team building, and onboarding meetings.

Here’s what each of the listed types of meetings is about:

Kickoff meetings

A kickoff meeting is the first meeting between the team working on a project, and the client who commissioned the project. 

Such meetings usually include:

  • the introductions between the members of the team and the client;
  • the discussion of the roles the team members will have in this project;
  • additional process explanations, if there are new members of the team who are unfamiliar with the quality standards of the company;
  • any necessary legalities, such as additional equipment required;
  • various other project planning activities.

🔸 Example:

A team consisting of one front-end software developer, one back-end software developer, and one designer, having their first meeting with a client who has hired their company to build a travel website.

Status update meetings

Status update meetings involve regular meetings between members of the team, for the purpose of sharing updates on individual progress, challenges, and plans for future work. 

Such status update meetings are usually scheduled regularly, such as every day at a particular time, or every week, at a particular day and time.

🔸 Example:

A string of daily stand-up meetings, every day at 10 am, that includes the members of the development team tasked with developing and maintaining a fashion app.

Decision-making meetings

Decision-making meetings involve dedicated gatherings of smaller or larger groups of people, for the purpose of making important decisions. 

Such meetings may involve:

  • gathering information;
  • evaluating available options;
  • comparing the available options against each other;
  • voting on the most suitable solutions.

🔸 Example:

An HR team holding a meeting, to decide on the best candidate for a customer support specialist to whom they want to make a job offer, based on results in interviews.

Problem-solving meetings

Problem-solving meetings involve dedicated gatherings of smaller or larger groups of people, for the purpose of addressing a previously identified problem or creating strategies and plans for the future. 

Such meetings usually require that the attendees:

  • define problem scopes;
  • identify problem priorities;
  • identify problem-solving opportunities;
  • single out potential threats;
  • brainstorm and evaluate potential solutions;
  • vote on the most suitable solutions.

🔸 Example:

A development team attending a spur-of-the-moment video meeting about the solutions for an unexpected feature-related bug in their newest app update.

Innovation meetings

Innovation meetings involve the process of brainstorming with your team, for the purpose of sharing ideas and finding innovative solutions by thinking outside of the box. 

The participants of such a meeting may use various techniques to find as many suitable ideas as they can, before making a shortlist of the best available options they can consider further. 

These techniques may include:

  • a long brainstorming session;
  • ranking and evaluating ideas, based on specific criteria and clear arguments;
  • voting on the best ideas.

🔸 Example:

A marketing team attending a meeting to brainstorm a suitable name for the company’s new time converter app.

Team building meetings

Team building meetings involve gatherings dedicated to strengthening professional relationships between the members of a team and the corporate culture overall. 

The focus of such meetings may revolve around planning and realizing team building outings, events, or fun office activities.

🔸 Example:

A meeting focused on the realization of a string of quick, but fun time management games and activities, such as “How long is a minute?”, “Race to the Ace of Spades”, and the “Big Picture puzzle challenge”.

Onboarding meetings

Onboarding meetings usually involve a series of events that help the new hire understand:

  • what is expected of them at their new job position;
  • what are the team’s workflows they too should follow and implement.

Such meetings may include 1-on-1 meetings with HR specialists, direct superiors, and work buddies, but also introductory meetings with key colleagues, and subsequent check-in meetings with the HR specialist and work buddy. 

🔸 Example:

On the first day for a new customer support specialist, the HR specialist in charge of him shows him around the office. 

She then takes him to her office where he fills out an onboarding form, she explains the key company policies, and they fill out his company profiles with his basic information together.

Then, the HR specialist introduces the customer support specialist to his direct superior and work buddy, who explain the team’s workflows and expectations. 

The customer support specialist then has an introductory meeting or online chat with the rest of the customer support team, and the group of software developers he is expected to cooperate with in the future.  

Throughout the first few weeks, the HR specialist and the work buddy get in touch with the customer support specialist via informal meetings, just to make sure he is doing well.

Public speeches

According to the Merriam-Webster definition, public speaking is “the art of effective oral communication with an audience”. 

Just like meetings, public speaking also includes a larger group of people, but, these groups of people have more distinct roles. So, although meetings imply that the attendees will be equally active participants, in public speaking, we distinguish between the speaker, who has a more active role, and the audience, who has a more passive role.

The public speaker may rely on all 5 types of communication to convey a message. For example, a presentation usually involves verbal talk, followed by nonverbal cues, and maybe even a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation with visuals and bullet points that highlight important phrases and key facts on the slides. Of course, all this would be in vain without a receptive audience who is actively listening and interpreting what the speaker is trying to convey. 

Instances of public speaking may lead to a QA situation, where the audience asks additional questions about the topic presented, and the speaker replies. 

In an office setting, public speaking may involve lectures, presentations, speeches, and workshops — their purpose may be to inform, persuade, acute, or entertain the audience.

Here’s what each type of public speeches is about:

Speaking to inform

Speaking to inform involves a speaker who is presenting facts, statistics, or general information on a topic. 

The success of a speech whose purpose is to inform will always depend on how much the audience was able to process and understand the information presented. 

This information may include upcoming company changes, or announcements of new products, or status updates on a larger scale — the person in charge of the event may use slides, paper handouts, videos, and other supplementary materials to share the information. 

🔸 Example:

An all-hands event, during which the company’s CEO shares the announcements of new products the company will start working on in the following months.

Speaking to persuade

Speaking to persuade involves a speaker who is trying to convince or persuade the audience about a certain idea or product. 

The success of a speech whose purpose is to persuade will depend on whether the speaker was able to change the opinions of the audience in favor of the presented arguments and opinions.

🔸 Example:

A product manager speaking in front of the product’s marketing, sales, and development teams, about why a particular feature of the product should be radically updated.

Speaking to actuate

Speaking to actuate involves a speaker who is trying to convince the audience to act on something. 

Whereas speaking to persuade may rely more on facts and figures, speakers who have the intent to get the audience to act will try to get the audience emotionally invested in a cause or the goals they are promoting. 

🔸 Example:

The CEO of a hospital system holding a motivational speech to the staff in the event of an upcoming large surge of patients, to encourage them to work together and help the said patients as best as they can.

Speaking to entertain

Speaking to entertain involves a speaker who is trying to entertain the audience during a particular event. 

Such speeches are often humorous or emotional and may involve a personal touch on the part of the speaker.

🔸 Example:

The dean of a college conducting a humorous, but heartfelt speech during the retirement party of an esteemed professor, in front of the professor’s colleagues and the rest of the college’s staff.

Negotiations

According to the definition, negotiation is a process that involves two or more people who have different needs and different goals — they need to discuss an issue to find a solution acceptable for all parties involved in the negotiation. 

As is the case with most other business situations that require communication, negotiations may manifest as all 5 types of communication. 

The negotiation process in business usually involves the following five stages:

  1. Preparation, during which the parties involved:
    1. research information;
    2. analyze data;
    3. identifying leverage;
    4. clarifying the interests of the parties involved.
  2. Information exchange and validation, during which the parties involved:
    1. engage with the other side;
    2. share information;
    3. explore options.
  3. The bargain, during which the parties involved:
    1. create value;
    2. capture value;
    3. aim to find a solution that suits both parties.
  4. The conclusion, during which the parties involved:
    1. reach an agreement;
    2. agree on the next steps to take;
    3. thank the other party for their willingness to negotiate.
  5. The execution, during which the parties involved:
    1. implement the agreement;
    2. follow through on promises made.

In general, negotiations in a business setting fall under employee-to-employee negotiations, employee-to-employer negotiations, and employee-to-third party negotiations

But, we also recognize distributive, interrogative, team, multiparty, one-shot, and repeated negotiations, which may involve employees, employers, and even third parties.

Here’s what each type of negotiations is about:

Employee-to-employee negotiations

Employee-to-employee negotiations involve discussions between employees, such as colleagues working together on a team project, who are looking to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

🔸 Example:

A team of insurance agents in a financial service company discussing who should take on which account and client. All of the insurance agents make agreements about the accounts they’ll take over quickly, but two insurance agents in the team are keen on taking on a particular account and are negotiating further about who should be the one to take the account on in the end.

Employee-to-employer negotiations

Employee-to-employer negotiations involve discussions between employees and their employers, such as an employee and the CEO of their company, who are looking to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

🔸 Example:

The representative of a marketing company is negotiating with a freelance design consultant about the price for his recurring consulting services.

Employee-to-third party negotiations

Employee-to-third party negotiations involve discussions between the representatives of a company and third parties, such as an employee and a potential client, for the purpose of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.

🔸 Example:

An operations manager negotiating a services agreement with a vendor booked to provide catering for the company’s Christmas party. 

Distributive negotiations 

Distributive negotiations involve discussions between two parties about a single issue, such as the price of a service or product.

🔸 Example:

A sales specialist discussing the possibility of extending the free use of product services for a client company, beyond the usual 1-month free trial.

Interrogative negotiations

Interrogative negotiations involve discussions between two parties about several issues. If the parties involved are interested in winning different arguments about different issues, a compromise that brings both parties what they want is possible, even likely.

🔸 Example:

A financial expert who’s just been given a job offer for a financial planning position negotiating with the HR manager of a bank, about her salary, benefits, and start date. The negotiations conclude with the financial expert getting more benefits than originally offered, to compensate for a slightly lower salary than she originally asked for, and with both parties easily agreeing on the start date.

Team negotiations

Team negotiations involve discussions among groups of people, who together forge two or more teams. 

Such teams usually consist of professionals who have different knowledge, experience, talents, and skills that are relevant to helping the team get what they want during the negotiations. 

The process of negotiation between teams usually includes the following elements:

  • specific roles for specific members of the teams;
  • clear negotiation strategies;
  • frequent breaks to discuss progress and work out possible disagreements between members of a team.

🔸 Example:

The legal representatives of two marketing companies that focus on products discussing the terms of a possible merger between the two companies.

Multiparty negotiation

Multiparty negotiation involves discussions between three or more parties — the parties involved in multiparty negotiations may be part of a team or have their own, separate agendas. Multiparty negotiations have the potential of becoming too complex to manage with ease, but, the multitude of parties involved and issues discussed helps create more value out of the said discussion.

🔸 Example:

A team of six having a brainstorming session that churns out three distinct opinions about the possible name for a new product. 

The brainstorming session quickly turns into a negotiation among 3 subteams of two, each of which supports and has valid arguments for one of the proposed names. The subteam whose name is chosen will gain recognition in the company, especially if the product turns out to be a success. 

In the end, great value is achieved, as one name is chosen for the product, and the remaining two are placed on the back burner, for consideration during future brainstorming sessions for the names of products. 

One-shot negotiations

One-shot negotiations involve discussions between parties that meet for negotiations once and are not expected to negotiate together in the future. 

Such negotiations may involve several meetings but are not expected to repeat in any way after an agreement has been reached.

🔸 Example:

The operations manager of a company looking for a new office space for the company’s ever-expanding number of employees. Once the price for a suitable space has been successfully negotiated, and the space purchased, the person who sold the space is not expected to further engage with the company representatives.

Repeated negotiations

Repeated negotiations involve discussions between parties that are expected to meet and negotiate on a repeat basis. Such parties are more likely to work harder on creating mutual trust and a pleasant, more cooperative atmosphere while negotiating, as they expect to communicate again in the future.

🔸 Example:

A company that mass-produces a plethora of new products every quarter, which requires the marketing team to gather frequently, brainstorm ideas, and negotiate about the best options for the new products’ names.

Conflicts

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a conflict is a ”competitive or opposing action of incompatibles”. It is usually the result of opposing ideas, interests, personalities, communication styles, backgrounds, and other differences among teammates. 

Conflicts also may involve all 5 types of communication, to a varying degree — but, verbal conflicts are among the most common types, as conflicts tend to occur face-to-face. Moreover, a lack of active listening and understanding is often a reason conflicts arise. According to a study commissioned by the CPP Inc., a typical employee in the US alone spends 2.1 hours per week involved in various types of conflicts.

A report titled “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It to Thrive” further demonstrates how prevalent conflict is, considering that as much as:

  • 85% of employees deal with it on some level;
  • 29% of employees deal with it almost all the time.

Conflicts at the workplace usually come from interdependence in work, but may also be based on differences in work styles, leadership styles, professional or even personal backgrounds, and personalities.

Here’s what each type of conflicts in a business setting is about:

Interdependence conflicts

Interdependence conflicts occur when a person needs to rely on a teammate for cooperation or input, to be able to continue or finish work — and the said teammate’s work and help are not up to par in terms of timeliness and quality.

🔸 Example:

A sales manager who is late with the monthly sales figures, which brings him into a verbal conflict with the company’s accountant, as this problem repeats on a monthly basis, and significantly slows down the accountant’s work progress.

Conflicts due to differences in work styles

Conflicts that arise due to differences in work styles occur when people working together have different preferences about how they like to work and have disagreements about these work styles.

🔸 Example:

One half of a sales team is task-oriented and prefers to get everything done quickly. The other half of the sales team is people-oriented and prefers to discuss problems and solutions with everyone, at length. This leads to occasional conflicts that require further communication to be solved.

Conflicts due to differences in background

Conflicts that arise due to differences in people’s background are tied to differences in work and life experiences, knowledge, education, age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or even political preferences. Such differences in people’s backgrounds breed conflict only when people take unnecessary notice of them and make assumptions on people’s opinions, skills, and talent based on them.

🔸 Example:

A senior marketing manager immediately dismisses the idea of a junior member of the marketing department at a brainstorming meeting, due to her young age and assumed inexperience, which leads to a light argument between several meeting attendees.

Conflicts due to differences in leadership styles

Conflicts that arise due to differences in leadership styles occur when employees have to follow the instructions of several different leaders who have different styles, which may lead to confusion and frustration.

🔸 Example:

The customer support director has a more laid-back Laissez-Faire (“let do”) leadership style with the customer support team, while the CTO who frequently communicates with the members of the support team has a more controlling, Autocratic leadership style. 

As a result, the members of the support team come into conflict over whether they are asking for too much additional guidance and direction (from the point of view of the customer support director). Or, whether they are not following additional guidance and direction enough (from the point of view of the CTO).

Conflicts due to personality differences

Conflicts that arise due to personality differences occur due to different dispositions among teammates, in terms of how they behave, how they think and react, what they like or dislike.

🔸 Example:

A senior manager in a bank has an argument with a bank clerk who is often arriving late to the office. From the point of view of the senior manager, the bank clerk is “lazy” and “irresponsible”. From the point of view of the bank clerk, the senior manager is constantly calling him out because he dislikes him. 

Job interviews

According to the definition, a job interview is a conversation between an applicant for a job position and a representative of the employer (usually, the member(s) of the HR team). It is conducted to assess whether the said applicant is a suitable choice for the job position. 

These interviews can be structured or unstructured, depending on the people who helm them. 

Written communication is what usually starts the interviewing process — The HR specialist contacts the job candidates whose resumes seem suitable, via email. Such an email may include the details of an interview assignment and/or the suggested time and date for an interview meeting in-person. 

Once again, verbal communication is the dominant type throughout the later stages of the interview process — however, the HR specialist may learn a lot more about the candidates by analyzing their facial expressions, body posture, and gestures as they answer questions. Depending on the job position in question and whether it is tied to creatives, the interview assignments throughout the process may include visual elements, such as designs in need of redesigning.

Both the applicants and the company representatives also need to actively listen to each other. The job applicants need to do so to fully understand the questions and then answer them to the best of their abilities. The company representatives need to do so to comprehend and analyze the answers and draw conclusions on the suitability of the applicants. 

When it comes to the types of job interviews, we recognize phone, face-to-face, candidate group, breakfast or lunch, web conferencing, behavioral, and stress job interviews. Here, we’ll also talk about exit interviews, which are a special form of interviews conducted by the HR specialist.

Here’s what each type of job interviews is about: 

Phone job interviews

Phone job interviews are another common first step in the interview process. They occur in case this first step is not conducted via email, and serve as a means to screen the candidate for suitability, before going deeper in the interview process. 

The HR specialist calls up the applicant and performs a quick inquiry about skills, experience, and other qualifications relevant to the position. 

The representative may also ask further questions, to determine whether the applicant in question is a good fit for the company culture in the first place. During the phone interview, the HR specialist and the applicant may agree on the date, time, and place for a more detailed, in-person meeting. 

🔸 Example:

An HR specialist having a quick phone interview with an applicant whose resume and cover letter stand out and highlight him as a suitable candidate for the vacant product manager job position. 

Face-to-face job interviews

Face-to-face job interviews are the most common types of job interviews, and they usually take place after the phone interview.

During these interviews, the HR specialist asks the applicant more detailed questions about skills, experience, education, but also some questions that help the HR specialist determine what kind of person the applicant is, and whether they are a suitable fit for the company’s culture. 

The applicants who were able to communicate their relevant skills and expertise better may expect several rounds of face-to-face interviews, before being given a job offer. 

At some point of the interview process, or during the entire length of it, the HR specialist may be joined by the future direct superior of the person who will fill the job position. 

In companies that employ developers and similar technical professionals, it’s also custom to have a tech interview that involves challenges and assignments the applicant can expect as part of work duties if hired.

🔸 Example:

A candidate for the position of an English literature professor having a round of face-to-face interviews with an HR specialist and the school’s vice dean.

Candidate group job interviews

Candidate group job interviews are job interviews that set two or more job applicants who are applying to the same position against each other, while the HR specialist and the rest of the interview team ask them relevant questions. 

Such interviews are meant to test the applicants’ professionalism, leadership skills, and ability to communicate with and function in a group.

🔸 Example:

The final round for the sales specialist position that includes a joint interview with two different candidates. Only one candidate will get the job, but the sales specialist in question will need to work in a sales team, so their ability to communicate with others is a vital prerequisite.

Breakfast or lunch job interviews

Breakfast or lunch job interviews occur when the hiring manager or HR specialist wants to see how the job applicant behaves in a more informal setting. 

🔸 Example:

A hiring manager interviewing a job applicant for an assistant editor position at a newspaper over lunch.

Web conferencing job interviews

Web conferencing job interviews (also known as “teleconferencing” interviews) involve a job interview that is handled via video chat. 

This usually happens either because it would be more complicated for the job applicant to travel to the headquarters of the company (e.g. because the headquarters are across the country), or because web conferencing job interviews are standard practice in the said company. 

🔸 Example:

A candidate for a product management position is currently living abroad, so the job interview with the hiring manager is conducted via a video chat app.

Behavioral job interviews

Behavioral job interviews may occur anytime during the other types of interviews — instead of focusing on the job applicant’s answers, the person conducting the job interview is more focused on behavior patterns that emerge from the said answers.

🔸 Example:

An HR specialist asks the job applicant about the time when she had to handle an unexpected problem at her previous jobs. The HR specialist then analyzes how the job applicant handled the situation, based on her own words.

Stress job interviews

Stress job interviews are performed to test how the job applicant acts in stressful, unexpected, or pressure-high situations. 

The interviewer may achieve this effect by asking questions in quick succession and encouraging the interviewee to think fast.

🔸 Example:

An HR manager in healthcare asking the applicant for a surgeon position a series of questions related to possible surgery situations in quick succession, to see whether the applicant would be a good fit for the often stressful emergency surgeries in real-life.

Exit interviews

Whereas the purpose of a job interview is to find a new hire, the purpose of an exit interview is to say goodbye to an employee who is leaving the company. 

Such interviews are usually conducted by a member of the HR team, to better understand why the employee is leaving, and what conclusions the company can draw from this — i.e. what can be improved, changed, or should remain intact in the workings of a company.

🔸 Example:

A bank manager conducting an exit interview with an insurance agent who has decided to leave the said bank after 5 years of work. 

Conclusion

The business environment is riddled with different types of communication situations. On a daily basis, an average professional may:

  • attend a daily stand-up meeting;
  • partake in unplanned, casual conversations with colleagues during the lunch break;
  • have a formal 1-on-1 conversation with a manager over the performance of a colleague;
  • negotiate for a preferred idea during a brainstorming session;
  • listen to a presentation about the company’s achievements in the previous year;
  • receive evaluation feedback from a superior;
  • have conflicts with teammates based on different work styles;
  • helm a job interview together with an HR specialist.

The listed situations all have a particular purpose and outcome and require communication with other people. Understanding what may be expected of you during these communication situations is vital for proper teamwork and progress in work.  

References:

  • Conflict. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster dictionary. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conflict
  • Conversation. (n.d.). In Cambridge dictionary. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/conversation
  • Feedback. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster dictionary. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feedback
  • Public speaking. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster dictionary. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/public%20speaking
  • Queensland Government. (2020). Negotiating successfully. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/marketing-sales/managing-relationships/negotiating
  • Stone, D. & Heen, S. (2014). Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Marija Kojic is a researcher and writer specialized in team communication and collaboration. She enjoys helping people discover meaningful and effective ways to communicate and collaborate smarter. Marija has written many blog posts for Clockify, but she has also appeared in G2 Crowd Learning Hub, The Good Men Project, and Pick the Brain, among other places.