There are two different types of job interviews: the phone call interview and the face-to face interview.
Phone Call Interview.
If your resume passed the database screening and the key words in your cover letter has caught the attention of the hiring manager, there is a high chance you may be asked to schedule a phone conversation. This conversation may last between 10 minutes and an hour and the purpose of it is to decide whether to invite you to a face-to-face job interview or not.
Be prepared. Usually, you and the hiring employer will agree to a specific day and time for the phone interview. Be ready and have your resume, cover letter, job advertisement and your notes from the employer's website or LinkedIn site ready in front of you.
Speaking English. Even though you may feel more capable when writing English compared to when speaking it, do not be afraid to speak it. Remember that your accent cannot be heard when writing your resume and cover letter. These documents will let potential employers know that you are capable of communicating in English. Try to have a positive attitude with respect to speaking the language – mistakes when speaking are normal. Do not hesitate to tell the interviewer that you are aware of your accent and that you are working on communicting clearly in English by taking language classes as part of the Caltech International Spouses Club. It is all right if the interviewer asks you to repeat yourself when you are not clear – don't take it personally. It's also important for you to ask for clarifification if you don't understand the questions that are being asked. Also, you can share with the hiring manager that you are involved in the social life on the Caltech/JPL campus, such as with clubs, volunteering and English as second languages classes. Your involvement in community activities demonstrates your motivation to adjust to U.S. culture and demonstrates your willingness to embrace a new life in Pasadena.
Questions you should you expect. You cannot know which questions will be asked, but some recurring questions are:
Are you currently employed?
What is your job title?
How long have you been working in that field/company?
Tell me about your job skills/competencies/responsibilities.
Do you get along with your teammates, supervisor? (if this is not the case, turn it positively by saying you have learnt a lot when working with someone who has a different temperament).
Why have you applied to that position?
What are your career goals?
By the end of the phone conversation, you should know if you would be called in for a face-to-face job interview. Do not hesitate to say how interested you are in that position, that you would like to know more about the company and look forward to a face-to-face interview.
Bravo, you have passed the phone call screening and you made a good impression on the recruiter. The in-person interview usually lasts about one hour. There may be 2 components to the interview, one more fact oriented and the other one more behavior oriented. The goal of the factual part is to share details about your accomplishments. The behavioral part serves to find out more about your personality and your intentions in a given situation such as a facing a dilemma or a team conflict.
Interviewer's roles and responsibilities. The interviewer has to get information about your knowledge, skills and abilities to determine if you can do the job, are a good fit for the team, company culture, or have the potential for future roles and responsibilities.
Interviewee's roles and responsibilities You are expected to research the job, and the company before the interview. You have to give information that shows you have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job. It's also the right time to ask information that you cannot find on the web.
Interview etiquette. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and make direct eye contact. This shows sincerity, signals interest, and confidence. Use the proper title and the name of your potential employer at the initial greeting; the interviewer will let you know immediately how they prefer to be addressed.
Small talk. Small talk is a polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters, especially as engaged in social and work occasions. It shows that you are friendly and sociable. Suitable topics are typically the weather, sports, travel and food. However, managers may have heard of the same talk from the other job hunters; instead, pay a compliment or make a positive observation about the waiting room, the lobby, or the friendly reception you received by other people in the company. It's highly recommended to avoid in topics related to religion, politics, and personal matters.
Personal space. Be mindful of spatial boundaries. They may give you a cue by moving further away from you. Not to be rude, it's simply a cultural norm in America.
Be curious. Show you can take initiative and have an "I can do it" attitude. It's the opportunity to ask the recruiter what they think of the latest software, the new trend in the industry, the culture of the team or company and how it reflects in the work environment. It's also the best moment to show how enthusiastic and motivated you are to be part of the company and how fast you can learn by giving examples of your alternative experiences if you do not have that particular work competence yet.
Body language. Everybody agrees that image is as important, if not more so, than what you say and how you say it. Your eyes, voice, gestures and body expressions can be either your best friends or your worst enemies. Body language can betray your words, so the way to be aligned with what you say is to practice the interview before going to the interview, and do not hesitate to do it repeatedly. Also, as many of you have moved from abroad and your English may be difficult to understand at times, pay attention to the body language of the recruiter and never hesitate to ask if they want you to rephrase with different words what you just said. This shows that you have a certain talent in communication because you captured and were aware of some non-verbal cues.
Tell me a little about yourself. This is the perfect time to deliver your Elevator-Speech, which is a brief, persuasive speech used to spark interest in what your organization does. You can also use it to create interest in a project, idea, or product – or in yourself. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name. Now that you have awakened the manager's interest, keep in mind that your resume simply lists your accomplishments but there is no story behind them. This is the perfect time to become a storyteller and illustrate your accomplishments with facts and numbers.
Ask questions. Ask questions so that there is an easy-ongoing and mutual exchange instead of a one-way discussion. Be careful because it's precisely during such situations that your body language is going to express the most. Examples of questions could be:
What do you anticipate witll be the major challenges for the company or job in the upcoming year?
Who are the people I will work with as a team and what are their areas of expertise?
What are the key duties required for the position?
Are there any trainings, ongoing education, certifications to get in order to better achieve my tasks?
Also, reformulation is a good tip to avoid some gaps in the conversations: you just want to be certain you have understood what the interviewer just said or described and rephrase it with your own words so that there is no misinterpretation. This may also show how much you appreciate the importance of communication.
Behavioral Questions. The interviewer may want to know how you think, solve an issue or deal with a delicate situation. This is the perfect moment to describe with detail a specific situation where you solved or managed a similar delicate situation. The end result should positively reflect on you. However, it's important to stick to the exact truth because there is a high chance that the interviewer will check your story with one of the references you provided. If you are at an entry-level position and have no work experience yet, you can always describe what you did in high-school, college, or univerisity, during a sport training or contest, or at the non-profit organization where you volunteer.
Closing. It's important that you let your potential employer know that you would like to work there and that you are very interested in the position. At this point, you should not ask about the salary or benefits, since this will be discussed if you are offered the job.
Follow-up. Send a thank-you note or email to the interviewer after your meeting. In addition, a week after your job interview, it's appropriate to call the recruiter to find out if they have made a decision. Even if you feel very uncomfortable doing this, your follow-up call shows that you are very motivated and that you are the kind of person who gets things done.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is for general information only. Caltech does not endorse or recommend any of the organizations listed.