Over the years, the job interview has evolved from a simple discussion between the owner and a potential employee into a bureaucratic maze of HR personnel and inefficiency. Nevertheless, the interview process has settled into a basic structure. This basic structure tends to have the following steps:
1. Interview Request
a. This can take the form of an email or phone call sent by the company to you to essentially schedule a time to conduct the Initial Screen Interview.
b. Sometimes this request can become the initial screen interview depending on the structure of the company.
2. An Initial Screen Interview
a. This is almost always a phone interview in which an administrative assistant or person from HR contacts you.
b. The main goal of the interview is to ask you questions about your resume to determine if you have the basic qualifications for the position.
c. The questions tend to be broad in nature and you should expect to get very few follow-up questions.
d. It is unlikely you would receive any behavioral interview questions or case interview questions at this stage.
3. Formal Interview (anywhere from 2 to 4 interviews)
a. The first of the formal interviews tends to be a phone interview in which you are usually meeting with a manager or supervisor in the division of the prospective job.
i. The format of this interview will include a specific discussion of your resume and will likely include a number of behavioral questions.
b. The second formal interview and any other later interviews will tend to all be on-site interviews. The only exception would be if you are interviewing for a position in another state. In this case, you are unlikely to have an on-site interview until your final interview.
i. These interviews will be similar to the first formal interview except you will be interviewing with other members of the group and taking technical efficiency tests.
ii. You can expect to get all types of interview questions at this stage, including resume-focused, job description, behavioral, and case interview questions.
iii. These interviews are really designed to determine if you have the right experience and whether you are a good personality fit for the team's culture.
4. Technical Efficiency Tests
a. The type and use of these tests depends on the job position. The tests are designed to objectively measure skills needed in the position. For example, a business analyst could reasonably expect to see an Excel assessment test to determine if he/she has the appropriate proficiency level in Microsoft Excel.
b. Technical Efficiency Tests can actually occur at any stage and some companies will even have you take a personality test very early in the process. This type of test tries to determine if you have the appropriate personality and interests they feel are the ideal match for the position.
5. Final Interview
a. This final interview is an on-site interview in which you are meeting with the hiring manager. During this interview, you will get to meet all the members of the team and possibly have lunch with them.
b. This interview can be one final grilling interview or it can be a transition meeting into your position depending on the format of the company and the overall competition for your position.
c. At this final interview, the questions have all moved to determine whether you would be a good fit with the team and to resolve any final concerns they may have regarding your qualifications for the position.
6. Acceptance or Rejection
a. Generally, if you get accepted you will find out at the final interview. However, sometimes you may receive a phone call a few days later from HR stating you have been accepted for the position. This delay can sometimes occur because of the company's format of using HR throughout the process or it could be because another candidate turned down the position and you were the second option.
b. Rejection letters can be sent at any point in the process. However, some companies will fail to send out a rejection letter due to oversight or lack of resources.
c. It is a good idea to ask the hiring manager in the final interview when you can expect to hear from them regarding your decision. If two weeks go by and you still have not received a response, you can see if you are still being considered by sending them a "if there is anything else you need" email. This email will usually get you a response through either a phone call or email.
This outline is designed to provide you with a good working knowledge of the current interview process. By learning this process intimately, you will be better able to prepare for each part of it. Now, go ahead and take some time to review each part of this process. We think you will discover, in doing so, a number of ways you can improve your interview preparation right away.
Mark McCormick is a former HR staffing member and veteran of many interviews as both an interviewer and a job seeker.