The Interview Stages

July 05 2011

The interview process can be grueling. There are a few variations, but most companies follow the same interview process to find their perfect match. How you handle each step determines if you move onto the next. The more you go through the process, the easier it gets. To help you skip through some of the learning process, QuitOrNot.com presents you with some of the hurdles you should plan to jump:

Phone Interview
Depending on a company’s size, the phone interview is typically done by a hiring manager or someone in their Human Resources department. If you have landed a phone interview, they are obviously considering you for the job. This is essentially a screening process to put together the pieces of your resume. Questions are centered around the facts of your resume. Usually, the phone interview does not delve too deep into situational questions.

  • If you have any time gaps in your resume, be prepared to explain.
  • Keep your answers very direct and answer the questions with confidence.
  • Be positive. This is your fist chance to show them you are pleasant to work with. Even if you left a job for negative reasons, try to put a positive spin on the situation.
  • Often times, hiring managers are not completely familiar with the job they are screening for. Make sure you clearly walk them through your resume. If you talk about something that may be proprietary to your past companies, explain briefly what you are talking about. You want the interviewer to leave the phone conversation with a clear understanding of your skills and what you can bring to the table.
  • When you are offered the chance to ask questions, make sure you ask at least 3-5 well thought out questions. This is your chance to ask some basics to also qualify whether you are interested in pursuing the next step.
  • Before finishing your phone conversation, you should ask how well you did and if you can count on the interviewer’s recommendation to move onto the next step. Also find out what the next step will be and what their time frame is.

Although a phone interview is just the beginning, you should be sure to send a thank you to the interviewer. If it is a hiring manager, an email will suffice. If your interview was with the person you will report to directly, a hand-written thank you note would be more appropriate. Here are some other tips you may find helpful: http://asktherecruiter.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-to-nail-phone-interview.html

 In-Person Interview
Although it is very cliché, this is your first chance to make a good impression. Be sure to get a list of exactly who will be involved in the interview so you can do research on each interviewer. The new trend is to have a search committee and multiple people involved in the hiring. This makes the interview a little more difficult because now you have to impress multiple personalities. Whether it is one interviewer or many, the basics stay the same.  The interviewer(s) are judging you on your communication skills, professionalism, ability to think on your feet, and appearance.  Body language is also important, so use your posture and gestures to show your excitement without overdoing it. The questions will be directed towards the skills they are looking for most. Your job is to connect the dots for them and show how your experience can be transferred to the job you are interviewing for. You want to leave the interview knowing that you told them what you can bring to the table that no one else can.

 Behavioral Interview
This may or may not be a part of the interview process, but it’s still good to be prepared. In this part of the interview process, you will be asked to give examples to back up your skills. The questions can get complicated and you will need to have good real-life situations to talk about. It helps to think about what situations you may use before walking into the interview. Some examples of behaviorally-focused situations they may pin point are:

  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Multi-tasking
  • Motivation
  • Dealing with tough situations
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication

Have an example ready for each topic that shows your ability to handle each with ease (http://www.theladders.com/career-advice/acing-behavioral-interview). Behavioral interviewing is structured to see how well you tell a story, so get your facts straight and avoid backing yourself into a corner. Know what major skills they are looking for so you can mold your answers to fit their expectations.

Skills Test
Some positions require that you walk the walk and prove your abilities through an aptitude test. This is only necessary for technical jobs with measurable tests, like graphic designers, medical professionals, information technology, electricians, etc. The company should make you aware of the test before coming in for your interview, so be sure to freshen up your knowledge and get plenty of rest so you can focus on answering the test questions as best possible. There are online tests for practice, so find a test that fits your skills or try generic reasoning tests to get warmed up (http://www.practiceaptitudetests.com/).

Follow-Up
Hand-written thank you notes are crucial after your in-person interview(s). Make sure they do not forget about you. No matter how confident you are, you are probably not the only candidate. By sharpening your skills and being prepared for what is next, you will stand out from the rest.

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