Interview Process Steps

Interviews are typically broken down into these 5 stages of the interview process:

  1. Introductions
  2. Small Talk
  3. Information Gathering
  4. Question/Answer
  5. Wrapping Up

Understanding the steps in the interview process will help your company standardize its interview process; leading to better, more qualified hires over the long term.

Why is this the case?

Standardizing your interview process helps interviewers and recruiters make fairer comparisons between candidates, as each candidate will be subjected to the same interview process.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of every stage in the interview process.

Stages of an Interview

Introductions

One of the most important steps in the interview process just so happens to be the first.

The introduction is where both the candidate and the company will be making their first impression.

It may surprise some companies to learn that they too should be concerned about making a great first impression. With unemployment at an all time low according to the US Department of Labor, the power lies in candidate’s hands. Because of this shift in power dynamic from an employer driven market to a candidate driven market, companies must make sure they put their best foot forward.

So how does one make a great first impression?

The good news is that it’s not complicated: greet the candidate with a smile, shake their hand, and always remember to be courteous.

It’s a simple strategy, but it’s often all you need to do.

When it comes to making a great first impression, present the company in a positive light. If your company is known to be a tough place to work, be honest, but not discouraging.

Be as transparent as possible during the interview process. With so many resources (such as Glassdoor) at candidate’s fingertips, it easy to see if a company isn’t telling the whole truth when it comes to the inner workings and culture of their organization.

Small Talk

After introductions are finished, it is a good idea conduct a bit of small talk with the candidate.  

Small talk is important because it’s one of the best methods to foster a healthy working relationship and build rapport.

When it comes to picking topics for this stage of the interview process, try to find something that the candidate is interested in. This can be as easy as taking a quick look at their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles and seeing what their interests are. It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make by taking just a few minutes to connect with a candidate on a personal level.

Do not attempt to talk about anything serious, like religion or politics, as the interview will likely turn into an awkward mess as a result. Not to mention the legal ramifications that come along with discussing these topics.

Keep the discussion positive: remember, you’re just trying to gauge if the candidate will be a pleasant person to work with and help them to see themselves working at your company.

Information Gathering

After small talk comes a bit of information gathering, or, in other words, asking the candidate to give you their elevator pitch.

This is an important step because it showcases just how prepared or unprepared the candidate is and tests their ability to think on their feet.

While the candidate is giving you their elevator pitch, it’s important to pay close attention: is their speech organized? Is it concise? Does the candidate sound confident about their abilities and qualifications? What’s their body language like when they’re speaking?

These are all important items to keep track of, as they will often provide you with all you need to know about what kind of employee this candidate will be.

Question/Answer

An interview is essentially a two-way exchange of ideas, and the candidate will be interviewing your company just as much as you will be interviewing them. Come up with some standardized questions that all of the interviewers ask the candidate. This helps in two ways: first, it makes sure there is at least some common ground between the different interviewers when it comes time to evaluate the candidate. And second, you will know how truthful (or well rehearsed) the candidate is in their responses by seeing how much their answers change between interviewers.

In addition to having questions prepared beforehand, it is useful to think about how you might answer a tough question from a candidate, as fumbling with your words during an interview will make your company look incompetent and dishonest.

During this stage, if the candidate does have any tough questions about the company, it’s always a safe bet to be honest and to present the company in a positive light while still being truthful. Just like when you ask a candidate what their biggest weakness is and they spin it into a positive, you can also do this with questions about your company.

Wrapping Up

Closing out an interview is just as important as the other stages. Just as having a great first impression is important, leaving the candidate feeling good about the company and its culture is key to hiring the top talent in your industry.

At the very least, always end the interview with a handshake and thank the candidate for their time. It is also a good idea to give them a quick tour of the office if you didn’t do that when they first came in. Be sure to walk the candidate out. Not only does this ensure they don’t get their nose into anything they aren’t supposed to, it can be very frustrating and embarrassing as a candidate to have to mindlessly wander the office trying to remember where the exit is.

Last but not least, send a follow up email. Whether you are interested in the candidate or not it is important to be courteous and thankful that somebody took time out of their day to interview at your company. Candidates can leave a bad review of the interview process on Glassdoor, so be sure everybody walks away from your interview process feeling respected.

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