Understanding The Different Job Interview Stages and How To Navigate Your Way Through Them

When I started out in my career over 40 years ago things were very different in terms of job interviews.

Back then it was typically one stage.  A decision was made, an offer to the successful candidate and a regret letter to those who were unsuccessful.

Now things are very different.

Multi stage interviews are common.

Trouble is if you haven’t been on the job market for a while, you can easily get confused.

So in this blog post I want to help you better understand the job interview stages.

The Preliminary Interview (or Informal Chat)

You may have been invited for an informal chat.  I’ve had a number of clients in that position in recent months.

The aim of the preliminary interview or informal chat is to learn more about you.

Yes a hiring manager can look at your CV and LinkedIn profile.

The informal chat or preliminary interview is an opportunity to delve a little deeper, to learn more about you and see how you come across.

The hiring manager will usually tell you about the job and the company then delve into your experience and skills.

The risk for you as the candidate is that you don’t go into the informal chat or preliminary interview as well prepared as you could.

For that reason I suggest you still prepare well for this initial chat or interview as you would the real thing.

The First (Formal) Interview

This is more than likely to be the toughest interview in my experience.

There’s likely to be 5 or 6 candidates being interviewed.

A good interviewer at this stage will ask questions covering areas like:

  1. Knowledge of the business or organisation.
  2. Knowledge of the sector.
  3. Your reasons for your interest in the role.
  4. Those designed to test your technical knowledge and experience.
  5. Those designed to test your leadership or management experience.
  6. Those designed to test your self awareness.
  7. Those designed to test your interpersonal skills
  8. Those designed to understand the value you can bring
  9. And many more….

They won’t ask you hypothetical questions but really look for examples and evidence that demonstrate not just knowledge but real experience.

As a result you need to allow plenty of time to prepare.

The Second (Formal) Interview

If you get to the second interview, you are more than likely down to the final 2 (or sometimes 3) candidates being considered.

The hiring manager at the first stage formal interview is in effect making a recommendation.

Those who reach this stage have already demonstrated that they can do the job.

In this second (and hopefully final stage) it’s more about learning more about you as a person and assessing your fit.

It might be quite conversational so you have to be ready for this and be able to adapt your approach.

I’ve seen plenty of examples of people who get thrown when the interview is more conversational.

Don’t let that happen to you.

In truth the job interview process for accountants and professionals is challenging.  What’s important is to understand the different stages so that you can increase your chances of successfully navigating your way through them.

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