The Interview Process
Few things in life are as stressful as the job interview. And there are many different types of interviews with varying degrees of difficulty. So the more you know about what to expect, the better prepared you’ll be. The descriptions below provide an overview of the types of interviews.
Once a prospective employer has determined that your qualifications match the job they've posted, the Screening Interview is often the first step. In large companies, this may be conducted by someone in the human resources department. In smaller organizations, it may be conducted by department heads or specific members of the team with whom you will be working.
Some companies may start the process with a Phone Interview. Although this allows you to have notes in front of you, it also means your facial expressions and body language can’t be read by the interviewer, which can be a handicap. Always push for an in-person interview after your phone conversation.
If you meet the basic requirements of the job, you'll be passed along to the next step: the Selection Interview. This interview is meant to confirm that you have the required skills and to determine if your personality will fit in with your co-workers'. This can be an important criterion for hiring you, so ask friends and colleagues in your networks—and don’t forget about HSF’s Alumni network—if they know people who work there. The more information you can find out about the company and, specifically, the people with whom you'll be working, the more you'll be able to leverage that in the interviews.
Other, less common, kinds of interviews include: the Group Interview, where you are among several candidates interviewed at the same time; the Panel Interview, where several people interview you at the same time; and the Stress Interview, where you are purposely asked confusing or fast-firing questions to see if you can handle high-pressure situations.
Some consultants suggest doing a thorough review of your strengths and weaknesses. Ask friends and current co-workers to list traits they most admire about you. Interviewers will often try to uncover potential weaknesses with questions like “What work problems have you had in the past?” So make a list of some of your weaknesses, too, and then practice explaining them in terms that can be turned into a positive. For example, you can discuss a time you struggled with developing a budget, but then took the initiative to take a course and are now teaching others how to create and manage budgets.
Practicing in front of a mirror or, even better, recording yourself on video will help you prepare your answers and allow you to check your posture and body language. Of course, you also want to dress appropriately. Nothing is more important than that first impression. And don’t forget to send that thank you note!
Regardless of the type of interview, try to remain calm and always make eye contact with the person asking the questions. Preparing answers to questions in advance will help you be more relaxed. Click here for specific tips to help you prepare for a job interview.