How does an interview usually work?

Every job interview is individual. After all, so are the applicants. And yet in every job interview there are always the same typical phases that are repeated. A good thing: because applicants can prepare accordingly and thus leave an optimal impression and increase your application chances. Which course of the interview you should expect and how you can convince in the individual phases …

Wie läuft ein Vorstellungsgespräch üblicherweise ab?

Is there a typical procedure for the interview?

Yes. In fact, there is a classic process for job interviews. Although individual phases can be exchanged as desired and in a good interview, the middle three phases in particular mix into a lively dialogue, the interviews usually follow the following structured scheme:

(assumption: the job interview lasts 45 minutes)

  1. Phase 1: Small talk(5 minutes)
  2. Phase 2: Get to know (15 minutes)
  3. Phase 3: Presentation (10 minutes)
  4. Phase 4: Questions (10 minutes)
  5. Phase 5: Conclusion (5 minutes)

How long does an interview take?

Typical job interviews usually last between 30 and 60 minutes. However, 30 minutes is a kind of lower limit. For example when things are going badly.

However, if things go well for you, they tend to take longer. And in the case of more highly qualified and endowed positions, such job interviews can sometimes take one to two hours and several selection rounds . Therefore, no general statement can be made about the length.

In addition, experienced HR professionals are mixing phases two, three and four in order to create a relaxed atmosphere for discussion and to get to know the applicant better. In individual cases, this means that an interview may even take longer than previously planned.

How can I prepare myself for the individual-discussion-phases?

Each phase of the interview has its specific advantages and disadvantages. You can use them in different ways. But one after the other.

  • The small talk

    After everyone has greeted each other, there is a first, relaxed chat: How was the journey? Would you like to drink something? Are you looking forward to getting to know us?

    It is crucial for this small talk that you signal self-confidence and remain positive unconditionally and at all times. No complaining about traffic jams on arrival. No excuse for being too nervous. The HR managers already know that an interview is an exceptional situation in which every applicant has a certain tension . So you can concentrate fully on the matter.

    Please don’t talk too much yourself. Studies have found that this is a turn-off for HR professionals . This makes naturalness and authenticity all the more important in this phase. Noticeable arrogance, on the other hand, is taboo. Nothing is more repulsive than a vain self-promoter. So just give in to your conversation partner and smile a lot. That makes you immediately likeable. Because remember: There is no second chance for a first impression.


    Extra tip

    Try to maintain sufficient body tension throughout and your seat to be filled in completely. The back of the chair, which you should feel stable in your back, can serve as an aid. Taboos are: lounging in the chair, crossing your arms, hectic micro-gestures (finger drumming, scratching your nose, plucking your hair), crossing your legs and nervously bobbing your upper one, crossing your arms behind your head, pseudo-thinking poses (thumb and Rub your index finger around the cheek and chin) and lean too far in the chair. All of this makes you appear either aggressive, absent, disinterested, insolent, unfriendly, reserved or mannerless.

    Instead, sit down upright (signals sincerity), lean forward slightly (commitment and interest) and adapt your sitting posture to that of the other person. In this context, professionals also speak of “reflecting the body language” of your counterpart. This technique can be used to subtly and quickly create trust and sympathy . But it is important not to ape the other person! Just carefully align his gestures and language with those of the other.

  • Getting to know each other

    In this phase, the host , i.e. the employer, usually introduces himself first. Just out of courtesy. Your job: listen with interest, nod, maybe ask here and there. The short queries in particular give you more detailed information about the position and often lead the many speakers among the HR staff back to the crucial points.

    Just make notes. This is also a signal that you are taking the interview seriously. It is permissible anyway.

    In particular, make a note of points that you want to (or have to go into again later in the fourth phase of the process (“queries”) because it was unclear).

  • The introduction

    After the company introduces itself, it’s your turn. This is followed by the so-called self-introduction . This phase is often initiated with questions such as: “Why did you apply to us?” “Why would you like this job?” “Why should we hire you?” “Tell us something about yourself …”

    First of all, assume that the person you are talking to knows your application documents. So please don’t just pray down your résumé. Boring! Instead, briefly introduce yourself again with your name, age and highest education – and then highlight your most relevant qualifications for the desired and advertised job. In short: Show that you are the best person and that the position is a logical step in your career.

    The whole thing shouldn’t take more than a minute or two. In this context, professionals also speak of an elevator pitch. So a compact and pointed self-introduction. You should ideally learn these by heart. Remember: you are the expert for yourself. Nobody knows you better than you. So if you’ve prepared and know what you can do, you won’t go wrong.

    After this self-presentation there is a classic question and answer session. This means: The HR staff will now go into your résumé in more depth, ask for explanations for gaps, the way of working, previous successes and how to deal with difficulties – also on a social level.

    You won’t score with correct or incorrect answers – there are none. But exclusively with your personality, with aplomb and a high degree of social skills. After all, HR managers want to know at this point whether you fit into the team and the organization.

  • The queries

    After you have answered all the questions briefly and crisply, the typical course of the interview comes to a phase that is unfortunately far too often underestimated: that of questions or your own questions . Often introduced with: “Do you have any questions?”

    And you always have it! Firstly, this is your chance to find out more about the company and perhaps your future job, the boss, the requirements and the colleagues. Second, this is a secret test of how much interest you really are in the position and how clever you are.

    Because the quality of your questions makes it easy for a trained HR manager to see how intensely you have dealt with the job and prepared for the interview.

    Unwise questions include all questions about vacation, working hours, discounts and questions that the interviewer can only answer in one way: “Is the working atmosphere good?” “Is my future boss nice ? “” Do I have good chances of promotion? ” No, you don’t! Anyone who asks such questions is obviously naive, unprepared and immediately catapulted himself into the end.

    Your own clever questions , on the other hand, are aimed at the future job, its special challenges or how your performance will be assessed during the probationary period and what is expected of you. So for example: “How long did my predecessor work in the position?” “How do you measure success in this position?” “What distinguishes good from excellent employees?” “What challenges await me in the first 100 days?” Are you aware of the future employee in your team? ”

    Always remember: He who asks leads!

  • The conclusion

    The interview is almost over. But don’t sag with relief now. Please maintain full concentration and body tension – just like a professional. Finally, there are a few formalities to be clarified:

    Clarify important deadlines: When can you expect a decision at the earliest? What’s next after that? How will you be informed? At the earliest two weeks after the job interview, you can also call again to inquire whether there is already a decision.

    Otherwise, say goodbye perfectly, thank you for the invitation and the good conversation and would like to emphasize again that the interview confirmed your decision to work for this employer.

    And no matter how it went: Cheer and be relieved only when you are out of sight and hearing range of the company and its employees.

Regardless of how you feel about the interview: Keep applying! To bet everything on one card would be foolish. Even after a successful interview (from your point of view), you should keep your eyes open for interesting job offers, send out your documents and accept invitations to job interviews. First, because you keep the initiative and second, because you increase your chances of a job.

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