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What Is the Interview Process?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The interview process is a part of nearly all hiring decisions, and is considered by many experts to be the most important form of hiring practices. Through a series of questions and answers, the interview process allows both the potential employer and prospective employee to get to know one another and discuss the position and workplace. While resumes can give a good idea as to skill level and basic qualifications of a candidate, the interview process can provide insight into the attitude and character of the applicant.

For the job-seeker, the interview process can reveal many things about the job, workplace, and employer. Many people try to get interviews after seeing only a short advertisement or posting that gives only the general title and basic requirements of the job. Going for an interview allows the applicant to ask questions about exact duties, chain of command, potential for advancement, workplace atmosphere, and salary or benefits. Although the interview may seem to be about whether the candidate is right for the job, it is also for the candidate to decide whether the job is right for him or her.

Employers may conduct an interview process in a variety of ways. Often, interviews are a second or final step of the hiring process, after initial applications and resumes have been submitted. An employer may choose to interview all of the candidates, or a few top applicants that seem to have the most experience. Getting an interview may depend on the candidate's applicable skills, personal contacts, reputation within the industry, or even the number of applicants.

Interviews may be conducted over the phone or in person. Phone interviews are often a preliminary step to in-person interviews, and may be done to narrow the field to only a few candidates. Since the interview process may take place weeks or months after applications are submitted, phone interviews allow the employer to establish whether the applicant is still interested in the job. In person interviews permit the most detailed examination for both the candidate and the employer, and may take much longer than a phone interview.

During the interview process, the employer may ask a variety of questions about the applicant's motives, ambitions, experience, education, and personality. These help determine why the applicant wants the job, whether he or she is prepared for the duties of the job, and what type of attitude he or she may bring to the workplace. Some employers may rate or grade applicants based on their answers, though this information is generally kept private. Ratings and grades may be weighted depending on the employer and the job; some may consider skills more important than attitude, for instance. After all interviews are completed, the employer will usually give the job to the person with the highest weighted rating, though several rounds of interviews may be conducted to reach this conclusion.

Pro tip: make sure to send a thank you email after your interview.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Practical Adult Insights. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By oasis11 — On May 18, 2011

@Sneakers41 - Wow, that is a lot of interviews. I wanted to add that I think that body language does say a lot about the candidate and so do thank you letters.

It is really important to send a thank you note to your interviewer immediately after your interview. It demonstrates that you are polite and notice small details like this. It also helps to keep you in the mind of the interviewer so you are more likely to progress to the next stage of the interview process.

Anything that you can do to set yourself apart from the rest is important and will raise your chances of getting the job. I worked in the staffing industry for many years and these were the interview tips I would give my applicants.

Following up after the interview is important because that is the exact time that the employers are deciding who to bring back for a second interview.

By sneakers41 — On May 18, 2011

@SurfNTurf - That makes sense.I think that the best interview tip is to be yourself. Speaking in a conversational tone with relaxed facial expressions helps the interviewer form a rapport with the candidate and makes the interview run more smoothly.

It also allows the interviewer to assess the candidate in a positive way because they would appear confident yet cordial. I always try to make eye contact when I speak to the person interviewing me and I try to mirror their body language and lean in when I am speaking to them so they understand that I am interested in the position.

Usually if you do well on the first interview, you will probably be asked to return for the second interview. The amount of interviews really depends on the importance of the position. If it is a very high profile position you may need to be interviewed by a lot more people before you are given an official job offer.

For example, my sister is an executive at an international cosmetic company and when she was first hired she had to go through seven interviews before getting the job. This was nerve-racking for her.

By surfNturf — On May 17, 2011

I was a human resources manager and our interview hiring process involved screening resumes and calling potential candidates including employee referrals for a telephone interview.

Usually the telephone interview process for employers was an opportunity to confirm the information on the resume and learn a little about the candidate.

At this stage, I was sort of prequalifying the candidate to make sure that they still fit the profile of what we are looking for. Sometimes during these phone interviews you find out that the candidate wants a salary that is clearly outside of your range.

This will disqualify this person from consideration for the job. We did not want to waste our time with someone that clearly would not be happy with our compensation so the telephone interview helped us save time in this regard.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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