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Understanding the Interview Process

Understanding the typical interview process, especially at larger companies, is helpful when searching for your new job, and essential ...

Understanding the typical interview process, especially at larger companies, is helpful when searching for your new job, and essential when you manage to land an interview. This article will explain a fairly standard process used at many Fortune 500 companies, including the one I am currently at in the role of an executive.

Creating a Position
It all starts with a job requisition being opened, or "job req" for short, by a manager like myself. Typically we have identified a need for a position, worked with finance to ensure our budget allows it, and then we submit a formal job req often through an automated tool. This tool routes the job req through various approval cycles [my manager, my finance partner, and often human resources]. The job req has information about the position such as title, job code within the company's hierarchy, expected salary range based on market data from HR, is relocation in the budget and if so how much, and desired start date. Once everyone signs off on the req, the recruiting process begins.

The Recruiting Step
Once approved, HR will assign a recruiter to help fill the job req. The recruiter will schedule a 60min meeting with me to review the qualifications of my ideal candidate - education, past experience, skills, personality characteristics, and other attributes I think are needed. They then assemble an interview guide that contains sets of standard questions meant to qualify candidates against these criteria. The recruiter then starts posting the position on major job boards, the company web site, and often may start a search on to proactively identify candidates, depending on the seniority of the role.

The Phone Interview Step
The recruiter will prescreen all resumes they receive against the profile we developed, and pass through about 20% to me for further review [so out of 100 submitted, 20 will get forwarded to me]. I typically will then select about half of those to further screen. The recruiter will then schedule a phone interview with that set to match them against our profile, and get a read on how they sound as a person.

Selecting Candidates for Interviews
Going with our previous numbers, out of the 10 that were phone screened, the recruiter will typically email me a summary and have selected maybe 2-3 that they think are strong candidates for an in-person interview. Are you following the math here - for every 100 resumes, maybe 2-3 will actually pass through the recruiters filters and result in an interview with me as the hiring manager.

Scheduling the Interview
So now the recruiter will work with my schedule, and the rest of the interview team's schedule, to find times that work for us and the candidates. Like most senior managers, my schedule if often booked out 2-3 weeks, so candidates can have a phone interview on a Monday and not have an actual interview scheduled for another 2 weeks potentially. The other interviews I select are peers of mine, or possibly managers of departments that the new position has to work closely with.

Conducting the Interview
At this point every person on the interview team has received an interview guide from the recruiter. This guide has different areas of focus for each interviewer, and suggested questions to ask, and a scoring sheet to rate the candidates answer to the questions. You won't see this during the interview, as we take notes on paper or directly on your resume, but within an hour of you leaving we will be transcribing our notes into a score across the categories contained in these interview guides.
Most interviews go from 30-60 minutes depending on the seniority of the position [longer of course for more senior positions]. While we try and fit all interviews into one day, often then may span 2-3 days depending on availability of the interview team.

Post-Interview Activity
After the interview, we of course all have filled out the scoring criteria in our interview guides. At this point the recruiter schedules a meeting or conference call with the entire interview team, and we each go through our impression of the candidate. We discuss the scores we provided under each area, and then overall impressions of the candidate's character, personality, skills, fit for the team, and energy and passion they exhibited. At the end of this call, it is solely my decision as hiring manager to decide next steps.
I can go against everyone else's evaluation [my gut], or I could feel comfortable we all arrived at a uniform assessment of the candidate. I have 4 choices at this point: "Hire", "No Hire", "Additional Interviews", or "Hold pending other candidates".

Hiring after an Interview
Once I make the decision to hire a candidate, here is what happens next. We will have gathered salary information during the interview process, and have a feel as to what we need to offer the candidate to stand a chance of getting them. The recruiter will contact the candidate by phone and make them a verbal offer - typically with basic information such as salary and bonus, and links to information about benefits such as health, vacation, 401k, etc. If the candidate counter offers in any area, the recruiter will get back to me and ask me whether I want to accept the counter offer, not accept, or negotiate further somewhere in-between. What is important here is my discretion - at this point the hiring manager has a fair amount of discretion around things like salary adjustments, vacation time, company cell phone, start dates, etc.
One the offer has been agreed upon verbally, it is captured in the job req system, and a written offer goes out to the candidate [often via email as a PDF file].

Accepting an Offer
We expect a response back within 7 days. It is rare to hold a position open beyond that, as if a candidate has other opportunities and wants to delay a decision on ours we would rather move forward with considering other candidates from the interview cycle versus waiting.
Once an offer is accepted in writing, the recruiter notifies me as the hiring manager, and I call or email the candidate welcoming them aboard!

Not getting an offer
If at any point in the process a candidate does not move to the next step, the recruiter will typically either send an email, or if late in the interview process actually call the candidate and let them know they weren't the most qualified for the position.

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