Interview Process That Everyone Should Know


For most of us nine-to-fivers, going through the interview process is almost inevitable before landing your next job. As daunting as it may seem, one can learn the intricacies of interview process through practice. Given enough experience of going through the process from beginning to end, the core idea only become more apparent. Here, I have done the honor for the less experienced one and collectively break down the long, strenuous interview process into 5 bit-size pieces.

Disclaimer: The points below are presented for your reference only. These are compiled from my own personal interview experience in the technology industry. However, based on personal findings from other fields, they are still highly relevant and similarly formatted to be used as reference.

Initial Recruiter Call

The first stage of the interview process begins with a recruiter call. This is the initial conversion between you and the company to discuss about common interest and fit. This is the perfect opportunity to understand company-specific interview process as well as find out about the appropriate interview track. For instance, whether if position A or position B is a better fit for you.

Note: In the event the recruiter inquires about salary expectations hereafter, do not reveal until the offer stage. This is to ensure the interviewers remain unbiased when evaluating your skill set throughout different stages.

Phone Interview

first phone interview

If all goes well, either the recruiter or a dedicated coordinator will set up a phone interview call with one of the hiring team members. This stage typically has its own dedicated time slot for the interviewer to ask more in-depth questions about your resume as well as assessing your technical ability. Depending on the job function, the technical assessment may be substituted for behavioral question if the job requires.

Phone Interview (Round 2)

second phone interview

The second phone screen stage typically only happens only when the company isn’t able to get enough “signal” from the first phone screen to make a firm decision to proceed. Don’t panic just yet, there could be many reasons to why this is needed: bad phone reception, interviewer/interviewee sick, or overall just one of those bad days. The format and content of this interview will be very similar to the first phone screen, so this one shouldn’t be too much out of the ordinary.

On-site Interview

on-site interview

This is perhaps the most daunting part of the entire interview process. This step is where typically you will have meaningful rounds face-to-face interview with the hiring team. But fear not, I have broken down different types of on-site interviews based on various scenario that you’ll commonly find. 

  • Candidate resides within commutable distance

Since the candidate doesn’t require travel assistance to be brought on-site, companies are usually more flexible with scheduling the interview. Another advantage with in-town candidates is that the interview length isn’t as extensive as what you’ll find for out-of-town candidates; typically from a few hours to half a day.

  • Candidate resides out of town

Since the candidate requires travel assistance, companies typically accommodate flight, hotel, and rental car/ride-sharing. If possible, it is highly recommended to fly into town the day before the interview shorten the following day. The on-site interview for out of town candidates is a full, 6-8 hour interview consists of 4-6 rounds including lunch interview. Each session typically spans from 45-60 min which is expected to be more extensive and interactive than the phone interviews. Make sure to prep up for technical deep-dives, behavioral questions, and know your resume from top to bottom.

Offer Stage (optional – Negotiation)

offer stage

Firstly, if you make it to this stage, big congratulations to you. You have managed to beat all the candidates for the job position and at the front-line to receive the prize. But it’s not over yet, the price at the other end is still yet to be determined! At this point, your recruiter has probably asked you countless times about your salary expectations from day 1, and hopefully you haven’t revealed anything just yet. In an ideal situation, you would want the team to bid for your valuation (an appraisal) first. Then depending on the compensation, negotiation rounds are followed if you feel there is a mismatch between how much the team valuates you and how much you valuate yourself.

Having a successful salary negotiation requires a skill set of its own. One of the most important points is knowing the full extend of your leverages during negotiation. Others, such as diversion and information exchange, are also crucial.

5. Background Check


Subject to the company, you may find step 4 and step 5 interchangeable. During the final background check, the candidate is required to provide personal information, employment history, and sometimes drug test. Companies often contract out to third-party background check services to process the work, so be prepared to see an unfamiliar name pop up on behalf of the company you applied for.

Wrapping It Up

Have you gone through similar or different experience? Share your comments down below and feel free reach me here.

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