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Interview vs. Discussion: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 3, 2023
An "Interview" is a formal meeting where one person assesses or questions another, while a "Discussion" is an exchange of ideas between parties.

Key Differences

The term "Interview" typically denotes a more formal, structured interaction, often with a specific purpose or goal in mind. Interviews often take place in professional settings, such as job applications, where a candidate is assessed based on their responses. Another context for interviews is the media, where personalities or experts are questioned about specific topics. In interviews, there's often an interviewer and interviewee dynamic, emphasizing a certain level of formality and structure.
In contrast, a "Discussion" is a more generalized term that indicates an exchange of views, ideas, or information between two or more individuals. Discussions can be formal or informal, ranging from casual conversations among friends to structured debates or conferences. The hallmark of a discussion is the open exchange of ideas, where participants converse to share knowledge, solve problems, or deliberate on subjects.
It's worth noting that while all interviews involve some form of discussion, not all discussions qualify as interviews. An interview is a subset of discussions characterized by its structured nature and specific objectives. For instance, a journalist might have a discussion with a colleague about how to approach a story but will conduct an interview with a source to gather information for that story.
Lastly, the tone and expectations set interviews and discussions apart. While an interview often has predefined questions and expects particular answers, a discussion is more free-flowing, allowing for spontaneous thoughts and diverse viewpoints.

Comparison Chart


Structured, formal
Can be formal or informal


Job processes, media, research
Anywhere, from casual to formal events


Interviewer and interviewee
Two or more parties


Assessment, gathering specific information
Exchange of ideas, problem-solving


Predefined questions, specific answers
Spontaneous, open exchange

Interview and Discussion Definitions


A formal meeting where questions are asked to assess an individual.
She felt confident after her job interview.


A discourse on a specific subject matter.
The discussion on climate change was enlightening.


A structured interrogation for research purposes.
The researcher conducted several interviews for his thesis.


The process of debating or analyzing a topic in detail.
The book club's discussion about the novel was engaging.


The act of assessing a candidate for a specific role or position.
The manager will interview ten candidates today.


The act of deliberating on a particular topic.
The committee's discussion led to a unanimous decision.


A media process where personalities are questioned about specific topics.
The celebrity's interview was broadcasted nationwide.


Consideration of a subject by a group; an earnest conversation.


A means to gather detailed information from a source.
The journalist set up an interview with the whistleblower.


A formal discourse on a topic; an exposition.


A formal meeting in person, especially one arranged for the assessment of the qualifications of an applicant.


Conversation or debate concerning a particular topic.
There was then a long discussion of whether to capitalize words like "east".
This topic is not open to discussion.
My discussion with the professor was very enlightening.


A conversation, such as one conducted by a reporter, in which facts or statements are elicited from another.


Text giving further detail on a subject.
Under each heading, you will find a discussion.


An account or a reproduction of such a conversation.


The dispersion of a tumour.


(Informal) An interviewee
An actor who was a tough interview.


The act or process of discussing by breaking up, or dispersing, as a tumor, or the like.


To obtain an interview from.


The act of discussing or exchanging reasons; examination by argument; debate; disputation; agitation.
The liberty of discussion is the great safeguard of all other liberties.


To have an interview
Interviewed with a publishing company.


An extended communication (often interactive) dealing with some particular topic;
The book contains an excellent discussion of modal logic
His treatment of the race question is badly biased


(obsolete) An official face-to-face meeting of monarchs or other important figures.


An exchange of views on some topic;
We had a good discussion
We had a word or two about it


Any face-to-face meeting, especially of an official or adversarial nature.


An exchange of views or ideas between individuals.
They had a lengthy discussion about politics.


A conversation in person (or, by extension, over the telephone, Internet etc.) between a journalist and someone whose opinion or statements he or she wishes to record for publication, broadcast etc.
The reporter gave the witness an interview.


A dialogue focused on problem-solving.
The team's discussion resulted in innovative solutions.


A formal meeting, in person, for the assessment of a candidate or applicant.
It was a dreadful interview; I have no hope of getting the job.


An audition.


A police interrogation of a suspect or party in an investigation.


(transitive) To ask questions of (somebody); to have an interview.
He interviewed the witness.
The witness was interviewed.


(intransitive) To be interviewed; to attend an interview.


A mutual sight or view; a meeting face to face; usually, a formal or official meeting for consultation; a conference; as, the secretary had an interview with the President.


A conversation, or questioning, for the purpose of eliciting information for publication; the published statement so elicited.


To have an interview with; to question or converse with, especially for the purpose of obtaining information for publication.


The questioning of a person (or a conversation in which information is elicited); often conducted by journalists;
My interviews with teen-agers revealed a weakening of religious bonds


A conference (usually with someone important);
He had a consultation with the judge
He requested an audience with the king


Conduct an interview in television, newspaper, and radio reporting


Discuss formally with (somebody) for the purpose of an evaluation;
We interviewed the job candidates


Go for an interview in the hope of being hired;
The job candidate interviewed everywhere


Can discussions occur between just two people?

Absolutely, a discussion can happen between two or more individuals.

Who typically conducts an interview?

An interviewer, who might be an employer, journalist, or researcher, usually conducts the interview.

Can a discussion have a formal setting?

Yes, discussions can be both formal, like in conferences, and informal, like casual chats.

What's the main objective of an interview?

Interviews aim to assess, gather specific information, or understand a perspective.

Are interviews always face-to-face?

No, interviews can be conducted in-person, over the phone, or through digital platforms.

What's the main focus of a discussion?

Discussions focus on exchanging ideas, views, or solving problems.

Is a debate considered a discussion?

Yes, a debate is a type of structured discussion.

Is feedback after a task considered an interview?

Not typically. Such feedback sessions are more of a discussion.

Are all job-related conversations interviews?

No, only formal assessments or questionings are considered interviews. Casual chats are discussions.

Can an interview be casual?

While interviews are generally formal, they can occasionally be semi-formal, but still structured.

Do interviews always involve professionals?

No, interviews can be conducted in various settings, including personal or academic.

What differentiates a chat from a discussion?

A chat is casual, while a discussion often has a specific topic or focus.

Is an argument considered a discussion?

Yes, though it's a more confrontational form of discussion.

Can discussions have outcomes?

Certainly, many discussions aim for understanding, consensus, or problem-solving.

Are round-table talks interviews?

No, they are more akin to discussions, with multiple people exchanging ideas.

Do all interviews have a set list of questions?

Often, yes, but some interviews might be more open-ended.

Can a discussion lead to a decision?

Yes, many discussions aim to reach a consensus or decision.

Can interviews be unplanned?

While most are scheduled, impromptu interviews can also occur, especially in media settings.

Are panel interviews a form of discussion?

They combine elements of both, with structured questioning in a discussion format.

Is an interrogation an interview?

It's a form of interview, but it's more forceful and is used to gather information, often by law enforcement.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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