A job interview is a meeting organized by a recruiter or hiring manager that is used to evaluate a potential employee that could be employed at their company. A job interview typically precedes any hiring decision that is made and is part of a formal assessment process.
By having this job interview it allows you to evaluate the employer just as much as they are evaluating you. You want to make sure that you’ll be a good fit and the environment is up to your standards. Not all interviews or interview processes are the same. There are some key elements that you should expect that show up in most job interview processes.
Steps in the Job Interview Process
If you’re a recent high school or college graduate – you’ll want to read up. A job interview can be a very intimidating part of getting into your career. As mentioned above, this is a great opportunity for you to meet employees that work where you’ve applied and expose yourself to the environment that you would be working in.
The Pre-Interview Phase
There are some things you’ll want to do before going to the interview and some things that you’ve already done. Everything that happens before you have your first contact with the hiring manager or recruiter is considered a pre-interview phase.
In this phase you should have:
- Submitted a formal resume.
- Submitted a formal cover letter (if applicable).
There are some cases where you may need to submit more paperwork. For example, if you were going for a government position they may do a background check immediately before you even have the initial interview.
In some cases this phase includes a phone interview with the manager before they invite you for an in-person interview or accept you into the interview process. Depending on the type of job you’ve applied for this isn’t uncommon. You’re more likely to see this at larger companies or more technical companies as they want to evaluate you prior to spending time and resources on hiring. This is also a way for them to quickly get high-level notes on you to share with the team or validate any of the documents that you’ve submitted.
The Interview Phase
If you’ve reached this part in the interview process then the company has an interest in you as an employee. They should have covered all the basics by now with the phone interview or other follow up communication. This interview should take place at the company’s office or location where you’ll work.
The interview should be a one-on-one interview with the manager or supervisor that you would be working with if you were an employee. You may interview initially with a human resource employee as they review information if you did not have that phone interview in the pre-interview phase.
Types of Questions:
- Verification Questions: These questions will ask you information on your resume, cover letter or about you. This is the interviewer trying to validate background information that you’ve already provided.
- Competency Questions: These questions will ask you about your experience, challenges you’ve faced, and how you’ve grown your talent.
- Situational Questions: These questions will ask you to respond to a hypothetical situation. This doesn’t always get asked but many employers will want to know how you’d respond if that situation happened. There is usually no right or wrong answer but how you present yourself and your solution to the problem can impress the interviewer.
- Case Interview Questions: These questions are typically more for senior leadership or management positions and are business focused. You’ll be asked various business scenarios much like a situational question but these are typically harder and more realistic of what you’d deal with day-to-day.
A normal interview takes around 30 to 60 minutes and you’ll likely get time yourself to ask any questions or to see the facility. If you’re given the time you should ask questions about the employer, environment and expectations you should have working there. As much as they are vetting you as a candidate you should be vetting them as an employer.
This is technically the end of the interview process for most companies. In some instances you’ll have anywhere from 1 to even 3 interviews that follow this process. Depending on the role you’re applying for you may even get a technical component where you have to demonstrate your skills in real-time. If there is any change to a normal interview process you’ll be told about it ahead of time so you can prep accordingly.
Post Interview Phase
The final step in the job interview process is what we call the “post interview phase”. This phase usually takes place within a few days after the final interview you’ve had. This is the time the hiring manager or recruiter discusses your interviews with the team and asks for a decision to be made. Even though you’re waiting on them to make a decision, you should be making a decision yourself.
It usually takes 1-2 weeks for a company to get back to you on a decision. In some cases it is faster if they are trying to be aggressive with hiring. If it is a competitive position, or a leadership position, you should expect upwards of 30 days to hear back as they move through the interview process with other candidates.
If you are interested in the position and you haven’t heard back from the company within 7 days it is well within your right to reach out to the recruiter and ask the status of your application and interview. In some cases company’s will not respond and it is assumed you did not secure the position.
How to Prepare for an Interview
Prior to going to the job interview you’ll want to prep. There is nothing a hiring manager or recruiter likes more than a prepped candidate. It also shows your desire to work for the company and how serious you are about the position.
Steps to Prepare for an Interview:
- Review the job description.
- Consider why you’re actually applying.
- Run through some interview question prep.
- Research the company and members of the company.
- Practice speaking, body language and mannerisms.
- Prepare questions for the interviewer.
- Practice with mock interviews.
- Print copies of your resume and cover letter to take.
- Plan travel and make sure you are set to get there early.
- Dress for the job and company you’re hoping to work for.
What to Bring to an Interview?
If you’re already prepared for the interview you want to make sure you bring the right items with you. Each interview process may be different and anything special needed should be provided by the company you’re interviewing with.
For example, if you’re taking a test on a computer then you are not expected to bring the computer with you.
Many of these are subjective but here are some common items to bring to a job interview:
- A copy or two of your resume.
- A pen and notepad or way to take notes.
- Pre-written questions for the interviewer that you can read off.
- A list of your references.
- Some breath mints or a toothbrush so you can freshen up before you go in.
- A bag, briefcase or portfolio that allows you to keep organized.