The interview process: a complete guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 5 July 2022 | Published 30 August 2021

Updated 5 July 2022

Published 30 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

During the recruitment of a new professional, you may need to go through many interviews. Your interview process may vary in length, with multiple stages, panels, telephone or video-based meetings. Taking the time to prepare for your interview may ensure that you move through the different stages with confidence and also increases your chance of receiving a job offer. In this article, we explain the interview process, highlight its key stages and discuss what you may expect to experience in a recruitment process.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

What is the interview process?

The interview process is the step-by-step method used by employers to screen and select new hires. Although the requirements that make up the interview stages may vary according to the industry or the type of position you're applying for, the overall progression of the screening stage remains mostly the same.

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview

Key steps in the interviewing process

You may need to go through the steps below when you apply for a job:

A screening interview

The screening interview is a brief and targeted interview that is undertaken to ensure that you are qualified for the job that you have applied for. The interviewer will check that your formal qualifications, skills and experience match those in the job requirements so that you can proceed to the more in-depth stages. Screening interviews often take place in the form of a group interview or open interview at hiring events or job fairs.

The phone interview

If a pool of job applicants is large, hiring teams will use phone interviews to reduce the number of candidates that they will invite for an in-person interview. The rise of remote working has also meant that companies are more reliant on phone or video interviewing to establish the suitability of a candidate. In this step, you may talk about your experience and skills to a hiring manager.

The video interview

Candidates are often invited to interview via Skype or other video conferencing platforms. This may also be used as the format for the main interview. Some applicants may be asked to participate in recorded video interviews. This format consists of candidates recording their responses to interview questions provided by the employer. The hiring team then reviews the videos.

Skills assessment

These may be necessary for the evaluation of essential practical or technical skills needed for a job. They may be in the form of a pass or fail test taken online or in the office. Another way of assessing candidates is by giving them an assignment, such as a piece of writing, that the hiring team will later analyse.

A first interview

The hiring manager usually does the first in-person interview. A first-stage interview focuses on a candidate's qualifications, employment history, and experience. If successful, the candidate will progress to another round of interviews with managers and staff members.

The second interview

This second, longer interview is offered to a select pool of suitable candidates and is more in-depth and exploratory. Hiring managers may lead this interview, but it is likely to also involve other staff members including the line management of the actual job. You may be required to show examples of your work or discuss a project you worked on in the past.

A third interview

If the competition between the remaining applicants is strong, a third interview may be needed to select the new employee. This is not common and may simply be used as an opportunity to take one more look at their new hire before offering the job. As part of this interview, you may be brought into the workplace and given the opportunity to meet the team.

Meeting in a restaurant

This interview takes the form of a meeting over lunch or dinner. A hiring manager may choose to do this type of interview to learn more about your soft and interpersonal skills, observing how you act in a different, more relaxed setting. This interview may be critical for professions and jobs where you'll have to interact with clients.

Background checks

The interview process may also include background and credit checks on the candidate. Failure to disclose information that comes up in these checks can lead to the withdrawal of a potential offer of employment. Certain highly sensitive roles may require a clean credit file as a condition of employment.

Job offer

The successful candidate will be provided with an offer of employment. It's usually at this stage that the terms of employment, including salary and benefits, are disclosed to you. If you receive a job offer, you need to study the contract and its conditions. If there is something that you would like to have adjusted, you're free to negotiate with the hiring team before signing the contract.

R**elated: [Phone Interview Tips to Get You to the Next Round**](https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/phone-interview-tips-to-get-you-to-the-next-round)

Key stages within an interview

The format of an interview is relatively consistent for most jobs. Here are the 5 key stages how to prepare for them:

1. Introduction and casual conversation

The meeting will start with the interviewers identifying and introducing themselves to you, usually with a handshake. You should react confidently create good eye contact. This stage is about breaking the ice and establishing good rapport. It's likely that the hiring manager is assessing your interpersonal skills. Your interviewer will usually keep the conversation light and positive, perhaps including information on the job or a tour of the workplace.

2. Your professional pitch

Most interviewers will ask the open-ended question 'Tell me about yourself,' which provides the opportunity for you to talk about who you are and why you are a great hire for the company.

You should practice how to answer this question, either by rehearsing in front of a mirror or by asking friends and family to interview you. Be sure to communicate clearly and confidently. A professional pitch should include why you applied for the role at that specific company, your qualifications, past experiences, achievements and personal qualities that make you the ideal candidate.

Related: Interview Question: 'Tell Me About Yourself'

3. Questions and answers

The question and answer session is the longest stage of an interview. The interviewer will work through a series of questions covering a range of areas and evaluate your responses. The types of questions asked by the interviewer will typically cover one of these key areas:

  • Behavioural questions: this form of questioning is used to understand your reaction to particular work situations. You may want to answer them by providing examples from your employment history.

  • Situational questions: situational questions are designed to target your problem-solving skills and ability to think critically, relating your answer to a real-world experience you have had. The interviewer will give you a problem and ask you to solve it.

  • General questions: general questions may be related to the role, the sector in which you would like to work or your plans for career progression.

  • Unusual questions: these are unexpected questions that encourage you to think creatively. Many of these questions don't have a correct answer but are used to test your ability to think quickly and logically.

You may want to prepare for this section of an interview by researching and practising the delivery of answers to common interview questions. This might help you stay confident and provide measured, thoughtful responses during your actual interview.

Related: 31 Common Interview Questions and Answers (With Tips)

4. Closing the interview

The interview closing usually comes with an opportunity to ask the hiring manager a few questions or share closing thoughts. This is when the real research into the company and the role you're interviewing for counts. Use the opportunity to ask questions as a way to demonstrate that you have a genuine interest in working with the company. Be sure to end the meeting by thanking your interviewer and shaking their hand.

Read more: Questions To Ask at an Interview

5. Follow up after your interview

Post-interview there are still opportunities to leave a lasting positive impression with your prospective employer. Take the time to reach out to your interviewer with a follow-up email that thanks them for their time and consideration and, if necessary, asks any genuine questions that may have arisen since the interview.

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