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Hit The Ground Running

How To Succeed In A Long, Arduous Job Interview Process

Job interviews are less often one-and-done these days. Here's what to expect and how to crush it.

How To Succeed In A Long, Arduous Job Interview Process
[Photo: Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock]

If you’ve been going on job interviews lately, you might have noticed they’re becoming longer and more involved than they used to be.

Businesses have learned the hard way that hiring the wrong people is extremely costly. One study by the Center for American Progress found that it costs businesses about one-fifth of a worker's salary to replace the person when he or she leaves. Those in positions that require higher levels of education and training are even more expensive to replace. And that’s to say nothing about the lost productivity and profits while the not-up-to-snuff worker is still there.

For an employer, all this can really add up.

"It’s disruptive, expensive, and time-consuming if you hire the wrong person and then have to manage them out," says Mikaela Kiner, founder of uniquelyHR, a Seattle-based HR solutions company. "Plus, multiple bad hires create churn and diminishes people’s confidence in their leadership."

In other words: It’s not you, it’s them. Since they just can’t afford to get it wrong, employers are ever more gun-shy—and they are thus spending ever more time vetting recruits to make sure they have the right skills, values, and personalities to fit the culture.

Don’t be discouraged by the extra hoops. Interviewing is a two-way street after all, and you’ll have more time to get to know the company under the new standard. But just be aware that you’ve likely got more hurdles to cross before you get the job.

Photo: Flickr user Thomas van de Weerd

Video Screening

Video interviews are replacing phone interviews in the early stages of the process, says Triin Linamagi, head of product development for the video-interviewing platform Jobatar, which is headquartered in London. Videos allow hiring managers to screen more people in less time and give more insight about candidates than resumes alone can.

"CVs hide candidates’ personality," Linamagi says. And video interviews "say what their CV doesn’t say for them."

Success strategy. Since a video interview will probably occur early in the application process, use it as your opportunity to stand out and sell yourself, Linamagi adds. Treat it as you would any other face-to-face interview, which means you need to be sure to research the company, know what they’re about, and understand the position you’re applying for. Additionally, look at the camera, show your confidence, and choose an appropriate setting with no distractions. And keep these other strategies in mind.

3-Plus Rounds Of Interviews

If you’re good—and we know you will be—you will probably be asked to return for several rounds of in-person interviews. You may be asked to meet with people one after another, or together as a panel; you may be asked to meet not just with potential bosses but with future coworkers or underlings.

"Hiring is a collaborative process with many stakeholders," Kiner says. "Decisions will be better and there is more buy-in when the right people participate early in the process. Getting the team on board means they’ll all pitch in to make the new hire comfortable and successful."

Success strategy. Find out whom you’re meeting with in advance, and do your homework on each person so that you can direct answers specifically to their interests. Also, use the opportunity to see if you’re comfortable with the employees and environment—this is a good opportunity to test for cultural fit.

A Battery Of Tests

There's a number of different types of tests companies may administer to try to weed out imperfect candidates. These tests might include basic skills assessments, personality tests, and even drug screenings.

For example, some locations and divisions of Oldcastle, North America’s largest manufacturer and distributor of building materials, whose U.S. headquarters is in Atlanta, require candidates to take the Caliper Profile, a behavioral assessment.

Success strategy. When it comes to behavioral tests, Deonna Campbell, corporate recruiter for Oldcastle, says job candidates asked to take the test should give their natural reactions. "I want them to represent themselves as honestly as possible," she says. "Sometimes the good thing about not knowing the questions is to see how a person formulates an answer or solves a problem." For skills assessments, you’re going to want to do your homework. Learn the expectations for the role and of your hiring manager. But don’t overthink it; you know you’ve got the skills!

Photo: Flickr user Steven Depolo

A Sample Project

Interviewers may want to get a better feel for the quality of work you’ll do in the job, and thus you’ll increasingly find you’re being asked to complete a sample project or presentation. Homework assignments are a good way to test skills as well as a candidate’s commitment to the company, Kiner says.

Often, these projects are more important than your actual interview, so don’t screw them up.

"If you’re not ready to give 100% on the homework, consider withdrawing from the process," Kiner says. "Assignments given during interviews carry a lot of weight, and it’s better to pull out than submit something half-hearted, especially if you may encounter people from this organization at a later point in your career."

At Oldcastle, a candidate for a safety position was asked to present a short fire extinguisher training for line employees and plant managers. "We were looking for presentation skills, how engaged they were, how prepared they were, and how sound the content was," says Kim Caccamise, a corporate recruiter. "Safety is one of our biggest core values, so this was very important to us."

Success strategy. Do your research—look at the company’s public materials, and ask questions if you need further guidance—to make sure that what you provide or present in such a situation is in line with the company’s values, Caccamise adds.

A Trial Period

Congrats, you’re hired! Well, temporarily.

We’re seeing more and more companies extending offers with "temporary status" to allow everyone involved a real chance to decide if you’re a good fit.

"If a company can ‘try before buying,’ it’s always an advantage," Kiner says. "There’s no substitute for working with someone, seeing how he or she fits in, and getting firsthand experience with things like communication, collaboration, and problem solving that are hard to assess in an interview."

It can be an advantage to you as well to decide if you like the fit of your new position.

Success strategy. Show them your best, and be honest with yourself—is this the job for you? Hopefully both parties will be happy with the end result, and you will be hired on full-time and given the benefits associated with the position.

This article originally appeared on Monster and is reprinted with permission.

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