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Getting through the 5 stages of job interviews

Managers and recruiters give their insights on how to ace the different interview stages

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The recruitment process has changed dramatically in the last decade, with the prevalence of online jobs boards and new technologies. Once jobseekers apply, it can be hard to know how an organisation wants to conduct the interview, or interviews.

How many interviews should you expect? It depends on the sector, the employer and the role, but most candidates go through five stages. We asked managers and recruiters to provide their insights on how to ace all of these interviews.

#1 Telephone interview with the recruitment company

Employers often rely on intermediaries who specialise in recruitment to run the screening process. Other times, recruiters find you by searching online or because you’ve applied for a role they are recruiting for on behalf of the employer.

Chris Lyons

You would rarely be invited for a face to face interview with a recruiter – instead it would be a phone conversation. We spoke to Chris Lyons, Operating Director at leading recruitment company Michael Page, and he advised that at this stage: “An overview of your career to date is a good way to give the interviewer insight into your personality and communication, and technical competence. This first stage interview is also a time where you can and should learn about the role.”

In this stage, you should be open about what you are currently doing and what you want to achieve. Chris added that candidates should “try to avoid going into interview mode. Showing your genuine personality is important, without crossing the line into over-familiarity.”

If you like the job and convince the recruiter that you’re a good candidate for it, you can be proud that your CV will enter the company’s walls. At this point, expect another call.

#2 Telephone interview with the talent acquisition team

The talent team is part of the company, and they know the company culture and what managers are looking for.

Damir Latte

It is another screening process. As Damir Latte, Talent & Recruitment Manager at employee engagement platform Perkbox explains, “a complete telephone interview takes between 15 and 20 minutes. We establish parameters early on based upon certain factors, such as salary expectations, notice period and requisite skills to ensure that everyone is on the same page.”

At this stage, you don’t have to stress about your technical competencies, but you should be prepared to talk about what you’ve accomplished in your career. Damir says: “Candidates are asked specific questions about their experience. The expectation would be that they are able to provide concise examples of highlights, figures and achievements.”

If you sound like a great addition to the team, you can be sure the talent team will send you to the next stage, which could be a Skype interview with the manager.

 #3 Skype interview with the line manager

Line managers often use Skype or FaceTime for a semi-informal conversation to find out if a candidate would be a good fit for the role.

Chad West

Chad West, PR & Communications Manager at home cleaning startup Hassle, explains that “on average, a Skype interview should last no longer than 45 minutes, which is more than enough time to establish a candidate’s relevant experience and cultural fit.”

Chad says this stage is “an opportunity to demonstrate that you understand what the company is looking for. You should have done research to understand what they do. It’s usually a sign that you are really passionate about an industry and demonstrates your desire for the role.”

If you have done well in front of the camera, you are ready to meet your line manager and team members. Finally you don’t have to find private places to talk; the next location will be an office.

#4 Interview with the line manager and the team

At this stage, you have to show up on time and be ready for a series of questions and answers. This “face to face interview generally lasts an hour. That is plenty of time to get a good understanding of the person’s abilities and personality,” says Darren Taylor, Digital Marketing Manager at cloud accounting software company Clear Books.

Darren Taylor

You are expected to be well prepared for this interview. “All the information about the company is a few clicks away online, so I expect the candidate to do their homework,” continues Darren. “At this stage I would say the fit of the candidate to the role in terms of personality and methodology takes precedence over pure technical ability.”

Be aware that lies on technical skills are easily discovered at this stage, as you are interacting with people who speak a specific language. At this stage, managers will try to suss out if you can manage day to day situations within the role.

Remember that asking questions can increase your chances of be invited for the next interview with a senior manager.

#5 Interview with line and senior managers

If you’ve made it this far, you can rest assured that you fit the role and mesh with the team. This is usually the last stage, and you are competing with just a few candidates who have also successfully made it through the same interview process.