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Career Series Part 5 – Welcome to the 21st Century Interview Process

Career Series Part 5 – Welcome to the 21st Century Interview Process
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It’s not like the old days when you wore your Sunday best and sat down with the boss. Today’s interview process is complex and sometimes confusing.

As a former Executive Coach and career counselor, I worked with many people who were 50+. A common lament was the mix of dread and confusion about the interview process. One person who was in their mid-fifties stated that they had only on interview in their life and that was the first interview right out of college.

The first step

For many people who have not experienced today’s interviewing process it can be a bit of a shock. To begin with, many employers now want you to apply online for any position. We covered some of the nuances of online applications in a previous article, but it can be both tedious and frustrating to apply online. Many online applications run for pages and pages requiring you to fill out one set of questions after another. In many ways this online application is the first step in the new interview process and will also involve various background checks.

Making progress

The second step will usually begin with an email and a request for a time to either talk on the phone or via video-conference using Skype or WebEx. The good news is that you’ve received a positive response to your application, but many people struggle with phone or video interviews. The key is to listen carefully, answer any questions succinctly and be sure to ask some insightful questions as well.

Often, this first person-to-person interview is with a reprehensive of the company’s Human Resources Department. They are verifying information, double-checking qualifications and work history, discussing the job in more detail and they may also ask various questions about your availability in terms of a start date. There are no guarantees and you will sometimes be informed by email about next steps, or the HR person may simply invite you to the next interview step.

On-site interviews

It’s exciting to actually go to the company location for the first on-site interview. Dress professionally and conservatively. Someone from Human Resources will usually greet you at the reception area and will often want to speak with you briefly. This initial conversation will most likely be to briefly acquaint you with the people you will be meeting and any details related to concluding the interview(s) and follow up. Sometimes the interviews will be scheduled one after another although there are occasions when you may have to wait a bit between interviews. The people you will be meeting are usually potential colleagues and the supervisor.

The group interview

There are occasions when you will be interviewed by two, three, or more people at the same time. It can be a bit overwhelming. The important thing is to answer the questions, show enthusiasm and remember that the questions you ask may allow you to take some control over the conversation. These questions should be about the company and the position but avoid discussing salary or compensation packages in these preliminary interviews.

The Big Boss interview

Depending on the position you may find yourself in an interview with top executive. This is usually a brief meeting and it often means that the others you have met with have recommended you for the position. The standard advice is to stay the course, be consistent with whatever you have already said and ask questions like you already have the job. If the boss doesn’t bring up salary or compensation, don’t ask. That comes next.

The offer letter or the rejection email

It’s tough waiting for a decision especially when you’ve gone through a series of interviews and have become increasingly enthusiastic about the job. The offer of the job is usually done in person with a Human Resources representative. At that time they will present you with a written statement of your salary, benefits and any other incidentals such as paid-time-off, holidays and a general policy statement.

If you didn’t get the job you’ll typically be notified via email by someone in Human Resources. Respond politely and gratefully for the opportunity. There may be another position at the company in the future and they will most likely remember you. You want to make sure it’s a positive memory.

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