The INterview Process Step-by-step

You’ve landed the interview. Now what? All your hard work has paid off. You’ve:

  • Completed a personal assessment
  • Researched different career paths and industries
  • Conducted your job search
  • Sent a resume and/or completed an application for a specific job
  • Scheduled an interview

Now comes the part where you meet with hiring managers or human resources and try to convince them that you’re the best candidate for the job.

smiling female banker shaking mans hand

Styles & types of interviews

Types of Interviews

Be prepared for any type of interview. With a wide range of jobs and industries, comes a wide range of interview styles and hiring processes.

One-on-one interviews are very common, and can be conducted by one of many people within a company or large corporation. Sometimes you’ll meet with a person from Human Resources, other times a hiring manager or supervisor. This type of interview may feel more like a conversation.

Large corporations or the government typically use the panel style interview, in which three or more people question the job applicant. In some cases, the same set of questions is used for every applicant.

In some cases, a company has numerous people interested in a single job posting. In cases with a large pool of job applicants, the company could use an interview over the phone. Sometimes these phone interviews aren’t scheduled, so always be prepared to answer questions and talk about your achievements at a moment’s notice.


Interview Styles

A behavioral interview is a style of interviewing that uses previous actions to predict future performance. More employers are conducting behavioral interviews because they believe they are more likely to understand the true nature of a candidate’s character and skills by asking the candidate to talk about their past performance rather than hypothetical events.

With competency interviewing, employers want to understand how you have demonstrated key competencies of the position. This interview style allows you to showcase your skills, talents, and abilities.  Similar to behavioral interviewing where you are asked how you handled a situation, the employer wants to understand how you have used specific skills and abilities.

A stress interview is designed to actually cause you stress, in an effort to see how you respond to certain situations. Many fast-paced and stressful fields such as law enforcement agencies or airlines use this type of interview as handling stress well may actually be a job requirement. You may also be put through a stress interview if the role is of high authority and responsibility. Stay calm and remember how your military career has prepared you for these types of stressful situations.


preparing for job interviews

Job interviews are your chance to make a good first impression, learn more about your potential employer, and set yourself apart from the competition. Here are some tips for projecting a positive, professional image at your next interview:

Before the Interview

Preparation is the key to a successful interview. Follow these tips to prepare for your interview:

Research the company — know and understand its product or service, industry, its mission and values, and even its history.

Review common interview questions — a quick web search can reveal hundreds of examples.

Be ready to answer “what is one of your weaknesses?” By anticipating this question you can put a positive spin on a supposed weakness.

Develop questions you will ask during the interview — rehearse them so they sound natural.

Practice answering common questions

Know the details — memorize the names of the people you’re meeting with.

Look good — wear conservative clothes that make you feel and look great.

Be early — give yourself a time cushion in case something happens. Remember, to some people, if you’re not early, you’re late.


DURING THE INTERVIEW

  • Greet the boss with a firm handshake, eye contact, and a smile. Researchers have found that people who make new friends easily tend to make frequent eye contact during conversation. If you keep the majority of your focus on the other person — looking at their eyes and face, smiling and nodding as you talk — people will get the sense that you are really paying attention to them… and they’ll enjoy talking with you!
  • Speak clearly, listen closely, and show interest.
  • Ask about the job and listen carefully to each duty mentioned.
  • Give short, direct answers focusing on what you can do for the company. Describe how your experience and training match the position. Give examples.
  • Many job interviewers ask candidates to give examples of situations where they have taken initiative — i.e., times when they found a way to solve a problem or done something positive without being asked. Be prepared; think ahead about good examples you can give.
  • Ask questions about the company’s goals and the abilities needed for the job.
  • Discuss salary only after the employer mentions a figure. Many job search experts suggest that you write “Open” in the space for “Desired Salary” on a job application — and only discuss salary at an interview after the employer names an amount.
  • End the interview with an appreciative “thank you” and be sure to get a business card from everyone you interview with.
woman standing in an office

THERE ARE THREE FACTORS IN A SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW

  1. How well you listen to the interviewer
  2. How well you present yourself non-verbally
  3. How well you answer the questions

During an interview, listening intently and meaningfully is almost as important as your answers to the questions. Listen closely to:

  • Gain more information about the company and what it would be like to work there
  • Make sure you understand the question
  • Hear key points or recurring themes — you might be able to tailor your answers better with this information

The way you look, how you shake hands, how you sit, and even how you move your hands while you speak are all important, non-verbal factors during your interview.

  • Shake hands firmly
  • Sit up straight
  • Speak slowly but clearly
  • Try to be as natural as possible, both in your facial expressions and hand motions

Hopefully you’ve practiced answering questions before the interview. Remember these tips for responding to questions:

  • Give yourself several seconds to think about the question before you answer.
  • Answer the question as best you can, but be brief. If asked, provide more information.
  • Always be positive, even if you’re asked why you left the military or any other job
  • Use examples as much as you can. Again, keep them brief.

AFTER THE INTERVIEW

Take some time right after the interview to sit down and take notes about the interview. These notes could include:

  • Everyone you talked to or whose name was mentioned
  • Topics you discussed the most
  • Questions you stumbled on
  • Questions you answered well
  • Your thoughts about the interviewer’s impression of you and your resume
  • What you learned about the company
  • Thoughts on improvement for your next interview

Thank-you letter

Once the interview is over, send a thank-you letter, email, or note to the interviewer. This letter should:

  • Thank the interviewer
  • Add any additional information you either forgot or didn’t have a chance to mention
  • Reconfirm your interest and why you’d be an asset to the company.
  • Reinforce any connection you made with the interviewer
  • Keep your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind and to show your continued interest
  • If you don’t hear from the employer after a week or so, consider following-up with an email or call to express your continued interest.

Tips for writing the thank-you letter:

  • Keep it concise and neat (if handwritten).
  • Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct.
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