So why do companies conduct phone interviews? Phone interviews give the company a chance to get a feel for your skill-set, interests, desired compensation etc., and see if there is a match between their needs and your strengths. If there is enough common ground, then the phone interviews are almost always followed-up by an in-person interview. Phone interviews are generally conducted in two steps. The first step is with a recruiter in Human Resources. The second step is a technical interview, usually with one of the people you would be working with. Technical phone interviews are usually only conducted for people living outside the geographical region. This is done because the company wants to have some level of confidence in your technical abilities before they decided to spend the money to fly you in for an in-person interview.
If you survived the initial phone interview, the next step is probably an in-person interview. Every company has their own way of conducting these interviews. Some prefer to have “panel-like” interviews, while others prefer one-to-one interviews. Expect to interview with three to four technical people (most likely the people you will end up working with) and maybe a group manager. The entire interviewing process can take anywhere between 2 to 6 hours. If the interview overlaps with lunch hours, the company will usually arrange for lunch. Expect a wide variety of questions that range from common personal questions to very challenging technical questions relevant to the job you are applying for. Remember that the whole point of this exercise is for the interviewers to determine if you have the skills to do the job you are interviewing for, and if you are someone they would like to work with.
Panel Interview/Board Interview
Candidates are interviewed by two or more individuals. This process is commonly used by governments and large organizations. It is important to maintain eye contact with the person asking the question and give an answer with an example to support it. Always acknowledge the other interviewers’ presence by making eye contact while answering rotating questions. Direct your attention at the beginning and end of your response to the person who asked you that question. The questions asked in the interview are often set out in advance. The board may already have decided which answers they will accept/prefer for the questions. Ignore note-taking by board members. Obtain employers’ names prior to the interview and use them during the conversation.
Candidates are interviewed by one person. These interviews tend to be more informal, however, it always depends on the employer’s style. The interviewer will often have a series of prepared questions, but may have some flexibility in their choices. It is important to maintain eye contact with the person interviewing you.
This interview commonly occurs when employers are approached directly and tends to be very informal and unstructured. Applicants should be prepared at all times for on-the-spot interviews, especially in situations such as a job fair or a cold call. It is an ideal time for employers to ask the candidate some basic questions to determine whether he/she may be interested in formally interviewing the candidate.
Second Interviews or Follow-Up Interviews
Employers invite those applicants they are seriously considering as an employee following a screening or initial interview. These interviews are generally conducted by middle or senior management, together or separately. Applicants can expect more in-depth questions, and the employer will be expecting a greater level of preparation on the part of the candidate. Applicants should continue to research the employer following the first interview, and be prepared to use any information gained through the previous interview to their advantage.
The interviews may be structured, informal, or socially situated, such as in a restaurant. Don’t be the only one at the table to order an alcoholic drink, and if you have an alcoholic drink, stop at one. Decide what to eat quickly, some interviewers will ask you to order first (don’t appear indecisive). Avoid potentially messy foods, such as spaghetti. Be prepared for the conversation to abruptly change from ‘friendly chat’ to direct interview questions, however, don’t underestimate the value of casual discussion, some employers place a great value on it.
Have a copy of your resume and any points you want to remember to say nearby. If you are on your home telephone, make sure that all roommates or family members are aware of the interview (avoids loud stereos, etc.). Speak a bit slower than usual. It is crucial that you convey your enthusiasm verbally, since the interviewer cannot see your face. If there are pauses, don’t worry, the interviewer is likely just making some notes.
Employers bringing several candidates together in a group situation to solve a problem are testing your ability to work in a team environment. They want to know how you will present information to other people, offer suggestions, relate to other ideas, and work to solve a problem. In short, they are testing your interpersonal skills. It is difficult to prepare for this type of interview except to remember what is being testing and to use the skills you have to be the best team player and/or leader you can be. Some employers will take you to meet the staff who would be your co-workers if hired. This is a very casual type of interview, but leaving a positive and friendly impression is no less critical.