5 Stages Of The Job Interview Process: What To Expect At Each One


Most companies use a five-stage job interview process with different challenges at each round. While this can seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, there are several reasons why they want to so thoroughly cross-examine their applicants. To find out why, read on.

Whether you are ready for a career change or seeking a better job in your current field, you should approach the job hunt with care. After all, competition is fierce, so job seekers must be sure to stand out to employers while narrowing down the best vacancies for themselves. So, with that in mind, read on to discover the various ways you can boost your employability at every stage of the job interview process and increase your chances of receiving a job offer.

Why So Many Rounds of Interviews?

Candidates often grow increasingly impatient with each meeting an employer invites them to. Like, how many interviews does it take to get a job? There are two main reasons for hiring managers to invite candidates to subsequent rounds of interviews, despite having made their mind up that they already like them.

Firstly, the more times you meet someone, the more they relax in your presence and are more likely to show their true colours.

Secondly, employers design each round to glean a different set of information. Keep reading to find out what to expect at each stage of a typical five-stage job interview process.

What to Expect at Every Step in the Interview Process

Of course, every business is different and will have its own agenda. However, the following are the most common types of interviews most employers use.

Companies often use other interview formats, but recruiters will usually tell you if you need to prepare for any of these.

Round 1 — The Job Application

While the job application is not an interview, a job seeker must get past an applicant tracking system or person screening the CVs. In order to achieve this, your CV must list the necessary skills and experience that the job description states.

To ensure your job hunt is successful, you must be a good researcher. Start by finding everything you can about the job in question and the company advertising the vacancy at this stage. Businesses want to employ people who take the time to understand their company, who are passionate about the job role and fit into the company culture.

Round 2 — The Telephone Interview

Also often called a screening interview, the phone interview exists to eliminate applicants who do not meet essential criteria. For example, an employer might only be interested in hiring someone who is willing to work on-site. Therefore, anyone who cannot travel to their place of work would not receive an invitation to the next round.

Phone interviews also establish whether or not candidates are qualified to do the job. While this may sound obvious, interviewees are often not quite who they say they are on paper! So, in addition to knowing a little about the company, you must be able to explain, convincingly and confidently, why you want the job.

Hiring manager conducting a telephone interview
Telephone interviews are less formal and are designed to weed out unsuitable candidates based on fundamental requirements.

Round 3 — First Face to Face Interview

So, your CV has met the criteria to pass through the ATS, you made it through the phone screening, and now you have an invitation to an in-person interview. Congratulations!

The first emotion you experience is the joy of making it to the next stage of the recruitment process. You hate interviews and worry about what the interviewer is going to ask. How do you prepare? What do you need to know?

A thorough read of the job advert should highlight what is essential to the company. Therefore, it may give clues about the potential interview questions they may ask. Once you have an idea, you should practise saying your answers aloud. This will make you feel more confident, and when it’s time to meet the company, you will sound a lot more relaxed and assertive.

You should also aim to learn as much about the company as possible. The interviewer will likely ask you why you want to work there, and your answer should be specific. Demonstrate that you have done your research and understand the company’s core values.

Generic answers explaining why you want any job don’t have any substance. The following is an example of how you might demonstrate your knowledge of a business in response to a question; “I appreciate that this is a family-run business. It shows in the quality and the level of customer care this company provides, making XYZ a company I would be proud to work for.”

You should not find it too difficult to find information about the company. The internet is a handy tool — spend a decent amount of time reading all areas of their website and social media channels. Have they won any awards? When established? What services do they offer?

Lady researching a company before a job interview
The internet makes researching a company you want to work for a piece of cake.

This next tip may sound obvious, but you must also know your CV like the back of your hand. Furthermore, you should be able to answer questions and give examples of your achievements throughout your work history.

Finally, consider what you must do to make a good impression. For example, you simply must not be late — no matter the circumstances. Make sure that you dress smartly and don’t be afraid to make eye contact with the panel. Finally, let your personality shine through, don’t hold back.

Top tip — if you’ve ever reached this stage and had no idea what an interviewer may ask even after reading the job description, applying for jobs via a recruitment consultant may help. Recruiters build close relationships with their clients and can offer valuable insights into what they look for at each stage of interviews.

Round 4 — The Final Interview

Further face-to-face meetings are often a tie-breaker when a hiring manager cannot decide between two or more candidates. All of the same principles as the above interviews apply. However, this is the time for you to show off more of your personality and help the interviewer understand what sort of person they will get on their team by hiring you.

This might be in the form of a technical task, or they might offer final contenders the opportunity to meet existing staff members to see how they get on.

Interviewees going through a five stage job interview process
A company may review CVs of many unique candidates, but only one may receive a job offer.

Round 5 — Background Checks

Background checks are not usually put in place to test candidates. However, any false information you give could result in you being found out at this point. See Round 2 — The Telephone Interview.

A Few Final Thoughts on the Five Round Interview Process

Not all companies use the same interview formats listed above. Some might substitute the phone interview for a video interview. Others may conduct phone interviews but invite all candidates to a group interview.

Whatever order they appear in, it’s highly likely you will be invited to several rounds of interviews throughout the job interview process. Each different type of interview presents many ways you can boost your chances of securing a job offer.

We hope that you see an improvement in your job application success rate by following the above advice. For more detailed guidance on any of our current jobs, our team of experienced consultants are happy to help.



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