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The job interview process

The job interview process is a frightening prospect for many people. Fear of the interview is one the reasons why some people don't move on in their career, or change their job.

Yet it needn't be this way. If you know what to expect, you are obviously in a much stronger position to prepare for a job interview

Armed with this information you can also make sure that you're doing all the right things to help you win that job.

Here the whole job interview process will be outlined for you, in detail.....

  • What happens
  • Why, and....
  • What you need to do

Job interviews
There isn't a standard approach, but....

There are many different approaches to job interviewing used by employers.

For example, if you are applying for a job in a small to medium sized organisation, your job interview might consist of an informal chat over a cup of coffee.

In larger organisations, and in government departments, job interviews are usually more structured. You can expect a formal interview, often with a panel of interviewers being involved.

job interview process

So......what I want to do here is to ensure that you're aware of what to expect in a highly structured interview, as it is this type of interview that many people find the most daunting.

The toughest of interviews however, are in fact unstructured interviews conducted by a poorly trained interviewer.

Why? Structured interviews tend to follow reasonably predictable patterns. This means you can prepare for them fairly well.

In an unstructured interview it's impossible to predict what might occur....you've just got to go with the flow of the interview!

The job interview process
Why employers have interviews

The most basic reason is that an employer wants to do everything they can to ensure they are making the correct choice in whom they hire. Therefore, they want to see you, and hear you......close up, in the flesh!!

Hiring a new person can be an extremely expensive exercise. Consider what the costs might be:

  • The costs of advertising the position, and fees paid to professional recruiters (if relevant)
  • The cost of time, and lost productivity of the people involved in the selection process
  • The cost of training and inducting the new person
  • The loss of productivity until the new hire is up to speed

Depending on the level of seniority of the person being hired, hiring costs can range from at least several thousand dollars, to well over $100,000. The employer does not want to make a poor decision!

So.....a job interview provides that important face to face opportunity for an employer to make assessments about your suitability.

Job interview tips

The decision to hire you will be based on how, and how well you communicate that you have:

  • Relevant and required kills and knowledge, that you have the right sort of capabilities to do the work, and/or the ability to learn how to do the job.
  • Strong motivation to do the job, solid reasons for applying for the position, and an appropriate attitude and approach to your work and career.
  • Personal attributes and an interpersonal style that 'fits' with the organisation and work team culture that you'll be joining.

While you will be giving verifiable facts about your skills and knowledge, and career highlights in terms of your accomplishments, much of the decision making about your suitability is likely to be more subjective than objective.

This is why your job interview preparation is so critical in the job interview process.

It's also why you must pay attention to your job interview skills; which relate mainly about how you communicate.

I've heard experiences recruiters and interviewers say that they made their mind up about who they would hire in the first few minutes of the interview, based on things like:

  • Personal appearance and grooming
  • Eye contact
  • Tone of voice
  • Firmness of handshake
  • Facial expression, and so on...

You have control over all these things in the above list. They might seem little things, but they are critical to a successful outcome from your interview.

This page on answering interview questions explores in detail a range of communication techniques to help you build rapport with the interviewer/s.

Job interview process - typical approach

Following is an outline of a typical job interview process. However, there are many types of interviews that you could potentially encounter - for example a first interview, second interview, a telephone interview, a panel interview and so on.

The job interview questions and answers you'll need to give will of course will vary according to the type of interview.

Go to the link if you want more job interview tips about what happens in these the various types of job interview.

The job interview process usually involves:

  • A review of resumes and other job application documentation to identify possible candidates, and eliminate candidates who are clearly not suitable..
  • Often further screening and sorting of possible candidates. This could involve a telephone screening interview, or it could be based just on the resume and other documents.
  • A list of candidates who will be invited to attend a first face to face interview is prepared. Candidates are contacted regarding interview times.
  • After the first face to face interview, further short listing of candidates takes place to identify who will be asked to attend a second interview. Unsuccessful candidates are usually contacted and advised their application has been unsuccessful.
  • Second interviews are held and the 2 or 3 best candidates are identified, and ranked in order of preference. Unsuccessful candidates are advised.
  • References of the 2 or 3 best candidates are checked. At this point the successful candidate is often identified. Some organisations prefer do a third interview of the top 2 or 3 candidates.
  • A job offer is made to the successful candidate.
  • The successful candidate either accepts the offer, or engages in negotiation about the offer.
  • On completion of negotiation, the remaining unsuccessful candidates are informed that their application has not been successful.

Job interview process
The purpose of different interviews

Following is a short summary of the purpose, from the interviewers viewpoint, of the different interviews in the process.

Screening Interview

As the term suggests the purpose of this interview is to do an initial screening of applicants - usually to decide who to invite for a full face to face interview.

The interview is conducted with you on the phone, and can last anywhere from 5 - 15 minutes.

You will usually be asked to provide a summary of your career experiences and achievement so far. They may also ask you to provide a summary of your key strengths, and a behavioural question or two.

You can also expect to be asked about your reasons for applying for the job.

First interview - face to face

The main focus of this interview in the job interview process is on the skills and knowledge the employer is looking for. There will be some basic exploration into your reasons for applying for the position, and an initial assessment about your fit with the organisation.

Expect to answer questions like:

  • Provide a summary of your career and achievements
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses
  • Reasons for applying for the job
  • What you are looking to achieve in your career in future

Expect to answer a number of behavioural and situational questions relating to your skills. So, have plenty of examples about how you have applied the required skills and knowledge in your existing career or life.

There may be also some initial questions about your salary and benefits expectations. Take care with these questions, sometimes candidates with unrealistic expectations will be screened out.

After this round of interviews a further short list of the most likely candidates is developed. These people will usually be involved in a second interview

Second interview

The questions in this interview will fully explore your motivation in applying for the job, and your general attitude and approach towards work.

There may also be additional questions about your skills and knowledge - especially areas where the interviewer/s suspect there is some inexperience or weakness.

You can also expect plenty of questions that will help the employer determine whether you are a good fit. For example, how you work, what you will contribute to the team, your communication style.

There will often be more in-depth discussion about your salary and benefits expectations.

The interviewer/s will usually be pretty close to identifying the successful candidate at the conclusion of the second round of interviews. Checking of references usually takes place to assist in decision making.

Third interview

These are not common in the job interview process. If one is held at all, it will usually be part of the selection process for executive level appointments, and only for the preferred candidate. They provide a further opportunity to determine "fit".

Often the interviewers will explore the candidate's philosophy, and ideas about strategy for the role in question.

Discussion and negotiation of the salary package is also to be expected.

Often, a job offer will be made, with a handshake, which is then followed by a formal, written job offer in the days immediately after the interview.

Job interview process - checking your references

The checking of references will usually only take place for those candidates who are seriously being considered for the position.

Before listing your referees on your resume, make sure you have contacted them to request that they be a referee for you.

Explain to them what the position is, who the employing organisation is, and so on. Send them a copy of your resume so that they can easily recall your key skills and experience. Let them know what you are "selling/telling" to your future employer about your strengths and experience.

In this way they will be prepared when they are contacted to provide the reference about you.

Your referees will almost certainly be contacted by phone by someone involved in the selection process.

Who should you ask to provide a reference?

The basic guidelines for choosing a referee are.....choose someone who knows you personally, and whom you are confident will speak favourably about you.

They will also need to have been in a position to observe, and therefore be able to comment about your work performance.

Your referee could be:

  • Your existing, or a past manager or supervisor.
  • A peer - someone who works at your level, either in your team, or in another team, in your organisation where you have had a working relationship.
  • A key client, customer, or supplier where you have had a good working relationship.
  • External contractors/specialists with whom you've had a working relationship.
  • Key people with whom you've had working relationships in other areas of your life e.g. community, church, sport, or other hobby/interest areas.

Following your interview, your referees can literally make or break your chances of being offered the job.

It is up to you to ensure that your referees are fully coached and prepared. Brief them about the job, and how best they can support you with their comments.

The job interview process - summary

If you haven't had a lot of experience in job search, and in particular participating in job interview the process can often be quite confusing.

Some employers are better than others about keeping job applicants informed about their application, and the interview process.

Don't be frightened to ask questions about the job interview process, for example:

  • "Can you describe the selection process for me, such as, how many interview might I expect to complete if my application is successful?"
  • "How long is this first interview likely to be?"
  • "Will there be a panel of interviewers, if so how many, and who will be on the panel?"

Finding out what is likely to happen, and when, is all part of your preparation for the interview.

When you understand the job interview process, and what is likely to be happening at each stage you are in a much better position to prepare for it.

New! Comments

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