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Interview Process

Interview Formats    

There are several interview formats an employer may use depending upon his or her approach to interviewing. You should be familiar with the different formats so that you can be prepared for various interview situations.

Screening Interview

  • Used primarily to determine if the candidate possesses the required skills and qualifications and to verify the factual content of his or her background.
  • Usually brief, typically 1/2 hour.
  • May be conducted on campus (in the CAP Interview Center), on-site at the company location, or by phone. (See additional information on phone interviews below.)
  • The interviewer, who is often a recruiter or human resources representative, may use an outline to ask specific questions of each candidate.

Phone Interviews    

  • Becoming more and more common as a means to screen candidates before on-site interviews.
  • You may be interviewed by one person, by one person with others in the room, or by many people via a conference call.
  • If possible, contact the organization in advance and get the names of the interviewers.
  • Be sure to write down each person’s name and title so that you can refer to it later for your thank you letter.
  • For more tips on phone interviews, view our video on phone interviewing.

On-Site Interview

  • Conducted at the organization site, allowing you to see the physical surroundings.
  • On-site interviews may last all day, giving you the opportunity to see what the organization is like.
  • This interview is more in-depth than a screening interview because you are being considered as a serious candidate.
  • You may meet with different people who will have input into the hiring decision.
  • The interview itself could be with one person or with several. Board or panel interviews (in which multiple people ask you questions) are common in some fields and with some graduate school interviews. With panel interviews it’s important to establish rapport with each member of the group. If possible, reply to individuals by name, and make eye contact with everyone when you respond to questions.
  • Many organizations will pose behavioral interview questions to obtain information about how you might behave in given work situations based on past performance in similar situations.
  • In some settings you may also be asked questions that are case studies so that an employer can understand your thought process. These questions would provide you with a dilemma or situation that you may encounter in this type of job and ask you to respond.

Visit our Interview Questions page for more information on how to answer and ask questions in each of these situations.

Stages of an Interview   

  1. Introduction/breaking the ice - The interviewer and candidate establish rapport with each other to create a relaxed atmosphere for the interview.
  2. Asking questions/verifying information - The interviewer asks the candidate questions to learn and assess skills and qualifications and to discover the candidate's personal qualities.
  3. Answering candidate's questions/promoting the organization - The interviewer answers the candidate's questions about the position and organization to clarify any information not answered in the candidate's research, and provides information to help the candidate assess his or her interest in the position.
  4. Closing the interview - The interviewer explains the decision-making process and what will happen next, and requests any other materials needed (i.e. transcripts, etc.). Candidate restates interest in the position and thanks the interviewer for the opportunity to interview. Set parameters for the next contact. Candidate should find out what the next step is and/or when to expect to hear from the organization.
  5. Decision-making/recording of information - The interviewer completes an evaluation form assessing the candidate's suitability for the position. The candidate writes down comments about the interview to remember what happened to better evaluate his or her performance and further interest in the organization.