Steps in the Job Interview Process

It's not always quick and easy to get hired. The job interview process can be lengthy. Being interviewed once and getting a job offer is typically a thing of the past. Today, many companies have an involved interview process starting with screening interviews, which often take place on the phone, followed by in-person interviews, second interviews, and even third interviews.

In addition to a hiring manager, you may meet with managers, employees, and other staff. How hiring is handled depends on the employer and the systems they have in place for screening and evaluating potential new hires.

Here's an overview of each step in the interview process, along with advice on the best way to handle each type of interview as you progress up the interview ladder towards a job offer.

Screening Interview

Woman giving a screening interview
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A screening interview is a type of job interview that is conducted to determine if the applicant has the qualifications needed to do the job for which the company is hiring. A screening interview is typically the first interview in the hiring process if the company does not start with open interviews where multiple candidates are screened at an open hiring event.

Phone Interview

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Employers use phone interviews to identify and recruit candidates for employment. Phone interviews are often used to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews.

In other cases, a phone interview may be the only interview you have. So, treat it with the same importance as you would an interview with a hiring manager in an office.

Video Interview

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For remote jobs, interviewing by Skype, or video may be how you get hired. With some positions where you work onsite, you may have a combination of remote and in-person interviews.

Your interview may be a live conversation with a hiring manager, or you may be invited to participate in an on-demand interview, where you record your responses to a series of interview questions for the hiring manager to review later on.

First Interview

Man at a first job interview
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The first in-person job interview is typically a one-on-one interview between the applicant and a hiring manager. The interviewer will ask questions about the applicant's experience and skills, work history, availability, and the qualifications the company is seeking in the optimal candidate for the job.

Second Interview

Man on a second job interview

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A second interview can be a more in-depth one-on-one interview with the person you originally interviewed with, or it can be a day-long interview that includes meetings with company staff. You may meet with management, staff members, executives, and other company employees. Once you're scheduled for a second interview, you're most likely in serious contention for the job.

Third Interview

Man on a third job interview
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When you have made it through the first interview, then a second interview might make you think that you're done with the interview process and you'll soon find out whether you'll be receiving a job offer. That's not necessarily the case. You may have to participate in a third interview and possibly more interviews after that. A third interview typically involves a final meeting with the hiring manager, and may provide the opportunity to meet more of your prospective colleagues.

Dining Interview

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Dining with job applicants allows employers to review your communication and interpersonal skills, as well as your table manners, in a more relaxed (for them) environment. Depending on the interview process of the company you're interviewing with and the type of job you are applying for, you may be invited to a lunch or dinner interview.

Final Interview

Woman in a third interview
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The final interview is the last step in the interview process and the interview where you may find out whether or not you are going to get a job offer. Here's information on preparing for an interview when you have already met with the company multiple times, and advice on how to handle a final interview.

Review Interview Questions and Answers

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Regardless of where you are in the interview process, it's important to practice interviewing and to be prepared for the typical interview questions you'll be asked during each step in the process. It's also important to have questions ready to ask the interviewer.

Following Up After Each Step in the Interview Process

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Even though it may seem like a lot of work, especially when you have gone through multiple interviews, it's important to follow up after each step in the interview process. In fact, the most important thing you can do is to follow up and reiterate your interest in the position and to thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you.

Background Check

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You may receive a job offer contingent on a background check and/or a credit check. Or, a background check may be conducted prior to a company offering a job. What the company learns during the background check could result in you not getting a job offer or in the job offer being withdrawn.

Job Offer

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When you have made it through the sometimes grueling interview process, the final step will be a job offer. The job offer may have conditions attached, so review the terms carefully. Before you accept, it's important to evaluate the compensation package, consider whether you want to make a counteroffer, and then accept (or decline) the job offer in writing.

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