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Interview Settings

Most employers use two interview stages to narrow the candidate pool. Screening interviews, typically mediated via phone or video conferencing, are used to determine which candidates will be invited to meet with the hiring manager or search committee in person. On-site interviews provide the opportunity for a wider audience of stakeholders to meet the candidate and confirm their fit within the organization. As you prepare for each interview stage and setting, consider these strategies for success.

Screening Interviews

Screening is a cost-effective method to whittle the field to a short list. These interviews are typically scheduled beforehand, so it is important to prepare. Remember that these interviews will generally not get you a job—they are an intermediate step on the way to a face-to-face interview.

Phone Interviews

Before the Call

  • Learn the names of the interviewer(s) if possible.
  • Eliminate distracting background noise and take the call in a quiet room.
  • Use a reliable, clear-sounding phone. If you must use a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged and you are in a place with excellent reception.
  • Disable your phone's call waiting feature.
  • Have your application materials and list of questions handy for easy reference.
  • Have a note pad and pen for note taking.
  • Keep a glass of water nearby.
  • Dress professionally for the interview—it can help you to project a professional demeanor.

During the Call

  • Do not use speakerphone.
  • Show interest and enthusiasm in your voice. If you smile when you speak, you will sound more upbeat.
  • Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Offer to send any additional information at the end of the call.
  • Conclude the call with an expression of interest in the position and ask about the next step.

Video Conferencing Interviews

In addition to the tips for phone interviews, here are a few tips for successful video conferencing interviews:

  • Test any technology beforehand! You need to know how much set-up time is necessary.
  • It is easy to appear distracted when you are on screen. Turn off notifications and close other applications while on the call.
  • Experiment with lighting and attire so that you look your best. Make sure that you are dressed professionally from head to toe in case you have to get up while you are on screen.

On-Site Interviews

The final stage of interviewing may be an extended on-site visit by the top candidates.

Organizations will sometimes invite a candidate for extended on-site interviews. This usually occurs only when a company is really interested in you (following at least a screening interview), and the company will pay for your travel, lodging, and meal expenses. Your visit may include meetings, meals, tours, and presentations.

  • Always carry the name and phone number of your contact person in case of complications or questions.
  • If you are traveling by air, carry your clothing and interview materials. Don't check necessary items that might be delayed or lost.
  • Pack extra copies of your application materials, references, itinerary, etc.
  • Research the company thoroughly and know the names and positions of your interviewers.

Meal Interviews

Even though these interviews seem relaxed, you must still act and speak professionally as you are being evaluated at all times. Some tips for meal interviews:

  • Order a meal that is easy to eat, requires minimal concentration, and will not make a mess.
  • Make small talk, but do not discuss topics that may be considered personal, inappropriate, or offensive.
  • Do not order too much food or the most expensive item on the menu. Take your cue from the interviewer.
  • Observe proper table manners.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages, even if the interviewer(s) imbibe.
  • Ask the interviewer(s) questions so that you can finish your meal while they talk.