April 5, 2021
Read time : 7 min

The typical interview process begins with a short (15 - 30 minute) screening phone or zoom call. Should you get through the screen, you will have at least one full interview with a hiring manager or supervisor and sometimes with co-workers. Interviews average 40 minutes. Depending on the organization, interviews can be longer. They may hold additional interviews with in-depth questions about key expectations. 

Know that all employers are not alike. Some employers interview and make an offer in the first round, but that is the exception. Nearly all do a preliminary screening to assess for fit and a basic understanding of the role, followed by longer, more substantive interviews. Offers are rarely made during interviews. Always, try to learn about a company’s interview practices, and their unique questions, by doing Internet research particularly using Glassdoor and Linkedin and by talking to networking contacts familiar with the company.

This section walks you through what to do when you’re contacted for an interview.

A disclaimer: in recent years, many employers have begun customizing the interview process. While some still use the typical interview questions included in this section, many now ask behavioral questions; and, some ask job candidates to answer written questions or prepare presentations as part of the interview process. While these changes can mean more work for a job candidate, they also mean you have more opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills. The reason for these changes: employers want to know how you work and how you approach a problem. They don’t want to be swayed so much by your ability to finesse an interview story.

Typical interview process:

·      Screening:  Do you understand the job? Can you do the essential skills?

·      First interview  - Assessing your job-doing skills, skills testing, assessing your ability to think/speak on your feet, are you a cultural fit?

·      Final interview – in-depth discussion of job expectations, discussion of how you will apply yourself to achieve job goals

·     The offer – often on the phone. Details about salary, benefits, work hoursReality check: Do NOT be lulled by the idea that a screening interview is simple. The first thing you may be asked is to talk about yourself. That can feel like hitting the ground running. There is one page in this section to help you respond confidently to this important question.

Each time you are invited for an interview, make sure to ask: 

How long is the interview?

Who is it with? 

Essential preparation for ALL interviews:

·     Being able to jump in and “talk about yourself”

·     Being able to say what makes you a fit and say what excites you about the position and company

·     Being able to articulate your key job-doing skills and relevant training

·     Be able to show that you have thought about how to succeed in the role 

How to dress: You want to make a positive first impression. Be neat and professional. It’s best to dress conservatively and professionally in solid colors. Try to match the expected professional attire of the industry, but don’t dress down if it’s a casual culture. You are on the center stage! Make sure you are comfortable while you are interviewing. 

Zoom appearance: Check out your set-up, lighting, camera angle and background at least the day before your interview. Be sure that it’s easy to see your face and that your background is not distracting or too busy or unprofessional. More guidance about video interviews is provided later in this section.

A note about who will be interviewing you:

·     Screening: often recruiter or human resources, sometimes hiring manager

·     First interview: hiring manager, sometimes team members or board members

·     Second interview: often hiring manager and team members

The goals of the screening interview are: to make sure you understand the job, to assess if you can fulfill basic requirements, and to hear if the job fits in your career path. Because these interviews are often conducted by human resources staff or recruiters, you may not be answering substantive questions. You may find that this is also not a time for you to ask in-depth questions. 

Don’t forget about your salary expectations! Salary is one of the ways people are screened out. Make sure you have researched the likely salary range for this position so you can assure the screener your salary expectation is in their range. You can research structure and salaries at similar companies through trade and professional associations, and Glassdoor.  

After an interview, including the screening call, always write a prompt thank you email saying you appreciate their time and stating what makes you a good fit. Show enthusiasm for what they are doing. More guidance about interview follow-up is included in this section. There is a sample Thank  You note under Interview follow-up.