Posted: March 21st, 2022

The interview process varies from employer to employer.

The Interview Process
The interview process varies from employer to employer. One position may only require a one-on-one interview and then a job offer, whereas another position may involve pre-employment testing, a phone interview with the human resource department, then a panel interview with potential coworkers, and then a face-to-face interview with the department manager. Some hiring processes will occur rather quickly; other employer hiring processes may take months. The following sections will explain in greater detail the various venues, methods, and types of interviews.
On the day of the interview be well rested and have food in your stomach prior to the interview. Look in the mirror to ensure a professional appearance. Clothes should fit properly and project a professional image. If you smoke, refrain from smoking prior to the interview. The smell may be a distraction to the interviewer.
Be on time and plan to arrive at your destination 15 minutes early. This provides time to deal with unforeseen transportation issues. If there is a public restroom available, visit the restroom and freshen up. Check your hair, clothing, and makeup, if applicable. Turn off your communication device, and if you are chewing gum, throw it away. Enter the specific meeting location 5 but no more than 10 minutes prior to your scheduled interview.
This is where your interview unofficially begins. First impressions matter and any interaction with representatives of the organization must be professional.
Immediately upon entering the interview location, introduce yourself to the receptionist. Offer a smile and a handshake, and then clearly and slowly state your name. For example, “Hi, I’m Cory Kringle, and I am here for a 9:00 a.m. interview with Ms. Dancey for the accounting clerk position.” If you recognize the receptionist as the same individual who arranged your interview appointment, make an additional statement thanking the individual for his or her assistance. For example, “Mrs. Wong, were you the one that I spoke with on the phone? Thank you for your help in arranging my interview.” Be sincere in your conversation, and convey to the receptionist that you truly appreciate his or her efforts. The receptionist will most likely ask you to have a seat and wait to be called into the interview. Take a seat and relax. Avoid using your mobile device during this time. While you are waiting, use positive self-talk. Positive self-talk is a mental form of positive self-reinforcement. It helps remind you that you are qualified and deserve both the interview and the job. Mentally tell yourself that you are prepared, qualified, and ready for a successful interview. Review your personal commercial, your qualifications, and the key skills you want to convey in the interview.
Traditional Face-to-Face Interviews
A traditional interview involves a face-to-face meeting between an applicant and the employer. As with any type of interview, convey confidence. Your primary message during the interview will be how your knowledge, skills, and abilities will be assets to the company and make you the best candidate for the job. When you are called to interview, stand up straight and approach the individual who called your name. If it is not the receptionist who called you, extend a smile and a handshake, and then (speaking clearly and slowly) introduce yourself. For example, “Hi, I’m Cory Kringle. It’s nice to meet you.” Listen carefully to the interviewer’s name so you will remember it and use it during the interview. He or she will escort you to an office or conference room where the interview will take place. If you enter a room and there is someone in the room that you have not met, smile, walk to the individual, extend a handshake, and introduce yourself. Once in the room, do not be seated until you are invited to do so. When seated, write down the names of the individuals you have just met. Whenever possible, interject the interviewer’s name(s) during the interview. Although you may be offered something to drink, it is best to decline the offer so there is nothing to distract you from the interview. If you are sitting in a chair that swivels, place your feet flat on the floor to remind yourself not to swivel. If you forgot to turn off your communication device and it rings during the interview, do not answer it. Immediately apologize to the employer and turn it off. Do not take time to see who called.
If the interview is taking place in an office, look around the room to get a sense of the person who is conducting the interview, assuming it is his or her office. Doing so provides useful information for conversation, should it be necessary. Depending on the time available and the skills of the interviewer(s), you may first be asked general questions, such as, “Did you have trouble finding our office?” The interviewer is trying to get you to relax. During the interview, pay attention to body language—both yours and that of the individual conducting the interview. Sit up straight, sit back in your chair, and try to relax. Be calm and confident, but alert. Keep your hands folded on your lap or ready to take notes, depending on the situation. If you are seated near a desk or table, do not lean on the furniture. Make eye contact, but do not stare at the interviewer. Your job is to connect with the interviewer by being sincere and personable.
If you are given the opportunity to provide an opening statement, share your personal commercial. If you are not able to open with your personal commercial, include it in an appropriate response or use it at the end of the interview. Do not talk over the interviewer or interrupt when he or she is speaking. When asked a question, listen carefully. Take a few seconds to think about what information the interviewer truly wants to know. Formulate an answer and relate your response back to the job qualifications and/or job duties. Avoid cliché or general answers. As covered in a previous section, your goal is to favorably stand out from other candidates while conveying how your skills will assist the company in achieving success. Provide a complete response without rambling. Sell your skills and expertise by including a specific example, and whenever possible, interject information you learned about the company during your research.
As shared earlier, employer interviewer styles and questions differ. In every situation, demonstrate how you are the best match for the target job. If you are asked questions that appear completely irrelevant to the interview (e.g., “If you were invited to a department potluck, what item would you bring and why?”), do not get defensive. Remain professional and be sincere in your response. When interviewers utilize silence, they are most likely gaining an understanding of how you handle stressful situations. Throughout the interview, be aware of and avoid nervous gestures. Remain relaxed, poised, and confident.
Interview Methods and Types of Interview Questions
There are several common interview methods, including one-on-one interviews, group interviews, and panel interviews. One-on-one interviews involve a one-on-one meeting between the applicant and a company representative. The company representative is typically either someone from the human resource department or the immediate supervisor of the department with the open position. Group interviews involve several applicants interviewing at the same time while being observed by company representatives. The purpose of a group interview is to gauge how an individual behaves in a competitive and stressful environment. In a group interview, practice positive human relation and communication skills toward other applicants. Listening and communicating that you are the best candidate is critical to a successful group interview. If another applicant is first asked a question and you are immediately asked the same question, do not repeat what the other applicant said. If you agree with the first applicant’s response, state, “I agree with Ms. Bell’s response and would like to add that it is also important to . . . ,” and then elaborate or expand on the first applicant’s response. If you do not agree with the first applicant’s response, state, “I believe . . . ,” and then confidently provide your response. Show respect by not demeaning other applicants. Be professional, do not interrupt, and behave like a leader by being assertive, not aggressive.
Panel interviews involve the applicant meeting with several company ­representatives at the same time. During a panel interview, make initial eye ­contact with the person asking the question. While answering the question, ­connect with all members of the interview panel. Whenever possible, call individuals by name. As with a one-on-one interview, your job is to appear personable and attempt to create a favorable impression that makes each panelist want to hire you.
The three general types of interview questions are structured, unstructured, and behavioral. Structured interview questions address job-related issues where each applicant is asked the same question(s). The purpose of a structured interview question is to secure information related to a specific job. An example of a structured question is, “How long have you worked in the retail industry?” Although the sample question appears to be closed-ended, a skilled candidate will elaborate on his or her response. For example, avoid simply answering, “I have worked in retail for two years.” Add additional information to your response; for example, “I have two years of retail experience. One year I worked in a small family business and the other for a large retail chain. During this time I have increased my general knowledge of business and my customer service skills. I liked the family business best because I enjoyed getting to know our loyal customers.”
An unstructured interview question is a probing, open-ended question. The purpose of an unstructured interview question is to identify if a candidate can appropriately sell his or her skills. An example of an unstructured interview question is, “Tell me about yourself.” When you are asked to talk about yourself, start with your personal commercial and, if appropriate, show job samples from your interview portfolio when referring to a specific skill. Make every attempt to provide specific examples without rambling and relate answers back to the target job.
Behavioral interview questions are questions that ask candidates to share a past experience related to a workplace situation. The purpose of a behavior interview is to identify what a candidate has done in the past, including how the candidate behaves under a specific circumstance. An example of a behavioral question is, “Describe a time you motivated others.” Prior to answering the question, take a moment to formulate your answer. Attempt to have the interviewer view the situation from your perspective by briefly providing the background to your experience. Describe how you used specific skills to solve a problem or improve a situation. For example, “Our department had just gone through a series of layoffs and employees were working hard but feeling unappreciated. Although I was not the team leader, I thought we needed something to help us deal with the stress, so for one week, and with my direct report’s permission, I planned brief, fun activities for our daily morning meetings. The first day, we played a game I made up called ‘Name That Stress.’ At first glance, it seemed silly, but it actually started a conversation about how stressed we all were and how we could collectively deal with the stress in a challenging situation.”
Phone and Other Technology-Based Interviews
In some situations, your first interview may take place over the phone. Phone interviews may or may not be prearranged. During your job search, consistently answer your phone in a professional manner and keep your interview portfolio in an accessible place. If a company calls and asks if it is a good time to speak with you and it is not, politely respond that it is not a convenient time and ask if you can reschedule the call. Try to be as accommodating as possible to the interviewer.
Those being interviewed by phone should follow these tips:
Be professional and prepared. Conduct the interview in a quiet room and focus solely on the conversation. Unless an electronic device (e.g., computer) is necessary for part of the interview, turn it off. Remove any additional distractions, including music, pets, television, and other individuals from your quiet area. Company research, personal examples, and the use of your personal commercial are just as important to interject into the phone conversation as during a face-to-face interview. Take notes and ask questions.
Be concise with your communication. Those conducting the phone interview are not able to see you; therefore, they are forming an impression of you by what you say and how it is stated. Speak clearly, at a normal pace, and do not interrupt. When responding, count to three in your head to allow time for telecommunications overlap. Speak naturally, but loud enough for the interviewer to hear and understand you. Smile and speak with enthusiasm throughout the interview. Use proper grammar and beware of “ums” and other nervous verbal phrases. If you stand while conducting your phone interview, you will stay alert, focused, and more aware of your responses.

Be polite. Utilize what you learned in both the etiquette and communication chapters. Exercise good manners. Do not eat or chew gum during your interview. It is not appropriate to use a speaker phone when being interviewed, nor is it polite to take another call or tend to personal matters. Your attention should be completely focused on the interview. When the conversation is over, ask for the job, and thank the interviewer for his or her time.
It is becoming increasingly common for interviews to take place through video chat venues such as Skype, WebEx, and Google Talk. An individual participating in a video chat interview needs a computer, a web cam, and a reliable Internet connection. When taking part in a video chat interview, the participant will receive a designated time and specific instructions on where and how to establish the connection. In addition to following the phone interview tips, the interviewer needs to prepare and treat the video chat interview as if it were a face-to-face interview. Therefore, use the following tips:
Plan ahead. Research the venue you will be using to address any unforeseen issues. Identify where you will conduct the interview and what technology is required. If possible, arrange a pre-interview trial to ensure all equipment works properly and you know how to use it (including the volume and microphone).

Dress professionally. Attire should be the same as a face-to-face interview. You will be in plain view of the interviewer, so visual impressions matter.
Maintain a professional environment. Conduct your interview in a quiet and appropriate location void of distractions. Ensure the background is appropriate. A bedroom, public place, or outside location is not appropriate.
Speak to the camera. Focus on the web cam as if it were the interviewer’s face. Feel free to ask questions, take notes, and use hand gestures. Although it may be more difficult to communicate, make every effort to not only project your personality, but, more importantly, sell your knowledge, skills, abilities, and unique qualifications. As with a traditional face-to-face interview, your job is to connect with the interviewer.
Discrimination and Employee Rights
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was created to protect the rights of employees. It prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Other federal laws prohibit pay inequity and discrimination against individuals 40 years or older, individuals with disabilities, and individuals who are pregnant. This does not mean that an employer must hire you if you are a minority, pregnant, 40 or older, or have a disability. Employers have a legal obligation to provide every qualified candidate equal opportunity to interview. Their job is to hire the most qualified candidate. Although discriminatory questions are illegal, unfortunately, some employers may ask them in an interview. Table 15.3 was taken from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to provide examples of acceptable and unacceptable employment inquiries.
Table 15.3 Illegal Interview Questions

Source: California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Fact Sheet. DFEH-161 (8/01)
If an interviewer asks you a question that is illegal or could be discriminatory, do not directly answer the question. Instead, answer the question in an indirect manner by addressing the employment issue and stating how your qualifications are well-suited for the job. For example, if the interviewer says, “You look Hispanic. Are you?” your response should not be “Yes” or “No.” Politely smile and say, “People wonder about my ethnicity. What can I tell you about my qualifications for this job?” Do not accuse the interviewer of asking an illegal question or say, “I will not answer that question because it is illegal.” Most employers do not realize they are asking illegal questions. However, some employers purposely ask inappropriate questions. If you are asked several illegal questions, you need to decide if you want to work for an employer who either does not properly train its interviewers or intentionally asks illegal questions.
Know and protect your rights. It is inappropriate to disclose personal information about yourself during an interview. Avoid making any comment referring to your marital status, children, religion, age, or any other private issue protected by law.
Special Circumstances and Tough Questions
Life is unpredictable and sometimes results in situations that can be embarrassing or difficult to explain during a job interview. These situations may include a negative work experience with a previous employer, time gaps in a résumé, or a prior felony conviction. The following information provides the proper response to interview questions related to these difficult situations.
Some job seekers have had negative work-related experiences that they do not want to disclose during an interview. Disclosing such information could be potentially devastating to a job interview if it is not handled properly. Some of these experiences include being fired, quitting due to poor working conditions, having a poor performance evaluation, or knowing that a former manager or teacher will not provide a positive reference if called. Perhaps you behaved in a negative manner prior to leaving your old job.
If you had a negative work experience and are not asked about the situation, there is no need to disclose the unpleasant event. The only exception to this rule is if your current or former boss has the potential to provide a negative reference. If this is the situation, tell the interviewer that you know you will not receive a positive reference from him or her and request that the interviewer contact another manager or coworker who will provide a fair assessment of your performance.
Being honest and factual is the best answer to any difficult question. If you were fired, performed poorly, or left in a negative manner, state the facts, but do not go into great detail. Tell the interviewer that you have matured and realize that you did not handle the situation appropriately. Add what lesson you have learned. Do not speak poorly of your current or previous employer, boss, or coworker. Also avoid placing blame by stating who you feel was right or wrong in the negative workplace situation.
As stated in Chapter 14, it is common for an individual to have time gaps in a résumé as a result of an extended job search, staying home to raise a young child, caring for an elderly relative, or continuing his or her education. Those who have gaps in their résumé may need to be prepared to explain what they did during the time gap. Identify a key skill you sharpened during your time gap and relate this experience to a key skill necessary for your target job and industry. If you volunteered for projects, include this information. For example, if you stayed at home to care for an elderly relative and are asked about the time gap, explain the situation without providing specific details, and then share how the experience improved your time management and organizational skills in addition to improving your awareness of diverse populations, including the elderly and disabled.
If you have a felony record, you may be asked about your conviction. As with other difficult interview questions, be honest and factual in your response. Explain the situation and tell the interviewer that you have made restitution, are making every attempt to start anew, and are committed to doing your very best. Sell your strengths and remember to communicate how your skills will help the company achieve its goals. Your self-confidence and honesty will be revealed through your body language and eye contact. Be sincere. Depending on the type and severity of your offense, it may take more attempts to secure a job than during a typical job search. You may also need to start at a lower level and/or lower pay than desired. The goal is to begin to reestablish credibility. Do not give up. Each experience, be it positive or negative, is a learning experience.
Closing the Interview
After the interviewer has completed his or her questioning, you may be asked if you have any questions. Having a question or closing statement prepared for the close of your interview demonstrates to the prospective employer that you have properly prepared for the interview. A good question refers to a current event that has occurred within the company. For example, “Ms. Dancey, I read about how your company employees donated time to clean up the ABC school yard. Is this an annual event?” A statement such as this provides you one last opportunity to personalize the interview and demonstrate that you researched the company. This is also a good time to share additional relevant information you have in your portfolio that you were not able to present during the interview.
Do not ask questions that imply you did not research the company or that you care only about your needs. Inappropriate questions include questions regarding salary, benefits, or vacations. These questions imply that you care more about what the company can do for you than what you can do for the company. However, it is appropriate and important to ask what the next steps will be in the interview process, including when a hiring decision will be made. Table 15.4 contains questions that may and may not be asked.
Table 15.4 Closing Interview Questions
Questions You May Ask
What is the next step in the interview process?
What do you enjoy about working for this company?
What type of formal training does your company provide?
What are you looking for in an employee?
Does your company have any plans for expansion?

What is the greatest challenge your industry is currently facing?
Questions You Should Not Ask
How much does this job pay?
What benefits will I get?
How many vacation days do I get?
How many sick days do I get?
What does your company do?
How long does it take to get a raise?
After the interviewer answers your general questions, make a closing statement. Summarize your personal commercial and ask for the job. An example of a strong closing statement is: “Once again, thank you for providing me the opportunity to interview, Ms. Dancey. As I stated at the beginning of our meeting, I feel I am qualified for this job based on my two years of retail experience, business knowledge, and demonstrated leadership. I would like this job and believe I will be an asset to XYZ Company.” The purpose of a job interview is to sell yourself and your skills. A sale is useless if you do not close the sale by asking for the job.
After the Interview
After sending or delivering your thank-you notes, congratulate yourself. If you did your best, you should have no regrets. When you are able, make notes regarding specific information you learned about your prospective job and questions you were asked during the interview. In the excitement of an interview, you may forget parts of your meeting if you do not immediately make notes. Write down what you did right and areas in which you would like to improve. This is a good time for you to evaluate your impressions of the company and determine if it is a company where you will want to work. This information will be helpful in future interviews.


The Interviewing Procedure
The interview procedure differs from one employer to the next. A one-on-one interview and a job offer may suffice for one position, whereas another may necessitate pre-employment testing, a phone interview with the human resources department, a panel interview with possible coworkers, and a face-to-face interview with the department manager. Some employment processes will be completed quickly, while others may take months. The parts that follow will go over the various venues, procedures, and types of interviews in further detail.

Be well rested on the day of the interview and have food in your stomach prior to the interview. Examine yourself in the mirror to ensure a professional image. Clothes should be well-fitting and present a professional image. If you are a smoker

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