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Five Stages of the Job Interview Process

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The job interview process can be daunting, especially the first couple of times you find yourself trying to make a case for yourself to your prospective employers. It’s helpful to think of the job interview as a presentation, where the idea is to make yourself appear marketable. As with presentations, first impressions are vital in job interviews. For that reason, you should make every effort to be prepared and to successfully navigate all five stages of the job interview process.

Job Interview Process Stage 1: Preparation

Before you go to your interview, learn as much about the company as you can. Research the company online to get an idea of what they do, what they make, or what kind of services they provide. Be ready to tell the company just what you can offer them, and how your skills and experience can help them achieve their goals.

Once you’ve arranged the time and place of the interview, make sure you know how to get there. Either get directions when confirming the appointment, or look up a map online. If you have the time, consider driving there a day or two early just to make sure you’ll be able to find the place.

Make a list of questions you might want to ask the interviewer(s), but make sure they are valid questions that aren’t easily answerable by looking them up on the corporate website. Avoid questions that assume you have the job, such as queries about salary or benefits. Instead, focus on questions about the people you would be working with, the expectations of the customers, the company’s goals for the quarter, etc.

Finally, make a list of questions you expect they’ll ask you, and decide on how you will answer them. That way, you won’t find yourself caught off guard by a basic interview question.

Job Interview Process Stage 2: Introduction

Non-verbal contact is vital, and will go a long way towards giving your prospective employer an initial impression of you. Smile when you first meet the interviewer. Have a firm handshake and be sure to maintain eye contact when speaking or listening. If there is more than one interviewer, shift your eye contact between them so that no one is left out.

Job Interview Process Stage 3: Presentation

When the interviewers ask you a question, listen carefully and know what you’re going to say before you start to answer. If you don’t understand the question, ask them for clarification. If you’re asked a question to which you don’t know the answer, don’t bluff. Be honest and admit you don’t know, but offer to get back to them with an answer later. And then make sure you do get back to them!

Job Interview Process Stage 4: Obtaining Information for Yourself

This job interview is as much for your benefit as it is for your potential employer’s. Be prepared to ask questions about the job requirements and type of work you’ll be expected to do. Hopefully, you will have assembled some questions ahead of time during the Preparation stage, so you should have plenty to talk about at this point. The important thing is to be active during the job interview process. Don’t just sit passively, waiting for something to happen.

Job Interview Process Stage 5: Wrapping Things Up

When the interview concludes, ask if they’re interviewing any others for the position and when you can expect a decision. Shake hands with everybody in the room and thank them for their time and for considering you.

As soon as you get home from the interview, send a note (e-mail is acceptable) to everyone involved in the interview. Thank them once again for their time, and let them know that you’ll follow up with them in two weeks if you don’t hear back before then.

The key to a successful job interview is diligent preparation. With a little time and effort, you can make yourself ready for all five stages of the job interview process and hopefully convince your prospective employer that you’re right for the position.

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