Lesson 4 & 5 – Job Interview Process & Interview Techniques – Part 1 & 2

This section is all about the Job Interview. In this section you will find information about the job interview process, virtual interviewing, job interview techniques and we will finish with de most asked questions during job interviews. In the next section, we will also help you with framing your answers toward the expectations of an employer without losing your authenticity.

This section contains loads of checklists and other useful information, I am sure it will be worthwhile spending some time going through this section while preparing for your job interview.

Before we go on……let’s me tell you this……

For some, Job interviewing feels like a test or an experience where you have to sell yourself. Well, this is not essence of a job interview. If you ask me of course.
I want you to know the job interview is not a one-way street.
It is a two-way street.
The interview is a way to get to know each other better.
To find out if you like each other.
Think about entering into a new relationship, establishing this relationship doesn’t happen overnight, you have to get connected, and work on it to find out if you really like each other. This is what happens during the interview process.
The most important thing you can do during this process is to work on making and establishing this connection.
If they like you, they will be more interested in hiring you.   

Before we dive into your job interview preparation, I would like to shed some light on the interview process itself.

Job Interviewing – The Process

The goals of the job interview process seen from the companies end are:

  1. Find out if you and people working at the company like each other,
  2. Find out if you are the right person for this position,  
  3. Find out if expectations of working in the company and this position match
  4. Find out if you fit the company culture.

For you, the goals are the same but perceived from the other end.
The job interview process nowadays is set up in many different ways. In the past job interview rounds contained 2 job interviews followed by a job offer. Nowadays, companies tailored the interview process in a way that suits their company culture and needs. Let me share a few examples of job interview processes I am familiar with:

  1. 3 to 4 interviews followed by a job offer.
    The bigger the company, the more interview round they have, this is what it sometimes feels like. For technical positions, a technical interview can be part of the process. In Sales & Marketing, Learning & Development and Design oriented positions setting up a case study and having a conversation about this can be part of the process.  
  2. Interviews combined with conducting a competence, personality, intelligence or aptitude questionnaire.
  3. Group sessions and assignments combined with a job interview.
    Some companies incorporated groups sessions into the hiring process. Usually, this happens when a company thinks the type of people they want to hire is equally as important as skills. During the group sessions, there are also some observators present who will report individual behaviour. The group sessions are often followed by a regular job interview.
  4. Online selection tools and rounds before the first job interview.
    With the possibilities technology offers, companies are also incorporating all kinds of new digital techniques into their hiring procedure. Gamification, actual computer games, artificial intelligence, it all might be part of the process. Some corporate companies aim to increase diversity and inclusion in this way. In some cases, the first 3 steps of the process are digital followed by a virtual or in-person interview.

After the interviews are conducted, and you are the one the company wants to hire, the interviews are followed by a job offer. Companies also approach this phase in many different ways. Some will invite you for a conversation to discuss the compensations and benefits. Others will send you a proposal followed by a conversation. These conversations are usually conducted by an HR person. How to handle this conversation and if there is room to negotiate will be discussed in the chapter: “Salary and Contract Negotiation“.    

The interviewing committee

Depending on the organisation, the interviewing committee consists of 2, 3 and sometimes even 4 persons. Usually, it is 2. The first interview is usually conducted by the hiring manager and recruitment / HR. During the second interview, you will most likely meet the manager of the manager and/or some of your new colleagues.  

Virtual Interviewing

A virtual interview is common nowadays. Especially for the first interview. The virtual interviews are usually more compact and shorter compared to in-person interviews. And it involves some technicalities. To prepare yourself for a virtual interview, I designed a checklist virtual interviewing for you.

Download the checklist virtual interviewing over here.

What does the job interview look like?

The interviews – no matter if it is the 1st, 2nd or 3rd interviews, usually contain the following few phases (no matter if it is virtually or in-person):

  1. Introduction phase
    During this phase, the people of the company will introduce themselves and share what the aim of the conversation is. They will also explain something about the position they are currently hiring for. At the end of the introduction round, you will be asked to introduce yourself. This is the part where you can use the Introduction you wrote in the first part of this course. This is where this introduction – also called the elevator pitch comes to live.
  2. Exploration of your skills to find out if you are the right candidate for this position
    This is the part where your skills and competencies are explored. This is the part where to company is going to ask you some more questions about your experience, the examples you mentioned in your resume and cover letter, and your competencies. This means your strength and weaknesses and shedding some light on the way you operate.   
  3. Explore your motivation for the company
    Companies like to know why you choose to apply. Having a solid explanation for this is an extra motivation for them to hire you. O, and by the way, great learning opportunities, the wonderful compensations and benefits or the fact that they can supply a visa is usually not the best things to mention.
  4. Room to aks questions
    This is your opportunity to ask questions about the job position, company culture and other things you would love to know more about. So, have some smart questions prepared. In the next chapter, the one about the Interview questions, you can find some tips and hints.  
  5. Explanation of the procedure after the interview and closing
    When the interview runs towards the end, you will be informed about the procedure after the interview, when you will hear from the company, what the next step will be etc. Please do remember to say a proper goodbye before your leave.  

Job interview preparation

One of the most asked questions I get is: “What is expected of me during the job interview?
Well, I think this question is perhaps already answered in this chapter but I also know you can influence your presentation during the interview by preparing yourself. So let me share some pointers on how to prepare yourself of a job interview.

  1. Prepare your introduction and the answers to the most asked questions
    A solid introduction helps to make a good impression.
  2. Know what to expect questions about.
    If you go over your resume and cover letter, there might be some obvious questions to expect. Think about some unexplained GAPS in your resume, some strange choices for outsiders, reasons for relocation etc. Thinking about how you wish to answer these questions helps you to nail these questions during the interview.
  3. Prepare the answers to the most asked questions
    We all know what the most asked questions are, which makes it easy to prepare for them. Writing them down helps to practise the answers.
  4. Plan a mock interview with your job search buddy
    Rehearsing is the best way to practice an upcoming job interview. Now is the time to aks your job search buddy to help you.
  5. Investigate company culture and company achievements
    Some of my clients read annual reports and took a close look at the company website to find out what the company wants to achieve and how they are working towards those goals. They also wanted to know more about company culture. For most of my clients, putting in the effort to investigate the company helped them to get hired. So, go over to the company website, read all you can find and have a vision and opinion present about what you see.   
  6. Decide on your job interview outfit
    Dress according to the company culture, also during a virtual interview, helps to increase your job search success. There is no need to dress up in a suit if it doesn’t fit the position offered or company culture.  
  7. Know how long it will take you to travel to the place where the interview is held.
    If you have an in-person interview at the company please do your investigations on the time it is going to take you to get there. One of the golden rules for a job interview is to be on time, so you want to know how long it is going to take you to get there – on time.
    Having a virtual interview? Please do check and try the application used for conducting the interview, you want to make sure it works.
  8. Be prepared for the salary question.
    Somewhere in the process, this question will come up. Be prepared to answer it, also during the first job interview. In the next chapter, you can find some more information about how to answer this question.
  9. The company is in the lead during the conversation – let them.
    In some cultures, it is perceived showing that you are strong and decisive by taking the lead in the job interview. During the interview practice session I have with my clients, I sometimes notice they wanted to take the lead in the conversation. I would never advise you to take the lead during the job interview since you are invited by the company. In Western European countries the one that invites or organizes the meeting is in the lead during the conversation. This means during the interview the company leads the conversation and you should allow them to do so.

Golden Rules – The Job Interview

  1. Be on time (10 minutes before)
  2. Come prepared & dress accordingly
  3. Listen and make eye contact
  4. Answer questions concise and brief
  5. Include specific and quantifiable data
  6. Don’t speak poorly about your present or former employers
  7. Smile & Sparkle

Follow-Up after the job interview

One thing you can do to stay on top of mind of the hiring committee is sending them a kind and personal thank you message. In this message, you can thank them for the pleasant conversation and the opportunity to present yourself.

Often people ask me: “Mariëlle, I have not yet heard from the company and they promised to get back to me by now.” This is the time to pick up the phone and call your contact person to find out what is going on. After the interview, companies usually inform you by phone about the next step in the procedure, doesn’t matter if this step is negative or positive.

What to do when I am not selected?

It is common practice that you receive feedback on the reasons why you are not selected for a next round or why they will not offer you this job. If you receive a rejection by email, I would always pick up the phone to find out more. The experiences of my clients by asking for feedback are positive. They learned a lot from it and helped them a lot to improve their performance during job interviews.

If the feedback is that your opponents had more experience but you all had a positive feeling about the conversation, you can always ask if you can apply again if a new job opening comes up in the future.