5 things that you always wondered about when you are interviewing

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

With millions of job opportunities, the recruitment process for each company and job can vary. As a job candidate, it is only natural to have questions about uncommon practices during your hiring process.

But when should you ask them and should you ever ask them? You want to get answers, but you don't want it to hinder your chances of getting the job.

Fret not, let's uncover 5 things that you've probably wondered about but never dared to ask.

1. Why do I need to fill an application form? It's all in my resume.

Forms are the worst, and everyone hates filling them up. Something that takes the average human 5 mins to fill is acceptable, but anything more should be a crime.

If it is both inefficient and ineffective, why are some companies still using them?

TLDR: Forms help companies collect information consistently and accurately.

The reason why some companies request for an application to be filled is so that they can get what they need, in a certain format and at the end of it, request a signature to confirm the accuracy of the information.

"It's the 20th century, why can't I just import my resume details to autofill the application?"

For starters, resumes vary very much from each person, and candidates have different approaches for each job. Similarly, companies do not use standard recruitment software, and so it is not possible to cater to different formats.

Secondly, most MNCs generally do not accept applications via emails or resumes. Instead, applicants fill in their details using an online employment application system that allows candidates to update their info whenever necessary.

These applicant tracking systems (ATS) allow hiring managers to search for applications easily with specific keywords, degrees, experience and other details to identify suitable candidates for open positions.

While the ATS may not have an auto-filler, it is perfectly fine to copy and paste information from your resume.

2. Panel interviews- meeting with one interviewer is stressful enough, but four?

Instead of a usual interview where candidates meet with one interviewer, panel-style interviews involve a group of interviewers (usually 2-5 and maybe more).

A panel interview means meeting several decision-makers all at the same time, and it’s designed to do four things: save time, assess culture fit, to see how candidates handle pressure and ensure that it is a collective hiring decision.

Often, representatives of different departments that the successful candidate will potentially work with come together to make a panel.

Some people you're likely to encounter during a panel interviewer are:

  • Your future manager

  • Future co-workers

  • A manager or team member from another department that will be working closely with you

  • An HR professional or recruiter

Although it may be intimidating to face many people at once, panel interviews can have many advantages for candidates.

Panel interviews can offer a greater perspective, reduce biases and provide better insights into how potential future co-workers interact.

It also gives you a chance to clarify points or explain your expertise in more detail, individually and collectively.

With different perspectives and multiple interviewers, you have added opportunities to discuss knowledge, skills, and experience that otherwise wouldn’t come to light.

3. What is a work trial day, and why should I attend one?

As part of the recruitment process, you might be asked to do a work or job trial before employment is offered.

A work trial allows employers to assess practical ability and for candidates to experience the job before accepting it.

A work trial is short and often an unpaid stint. The length of a work trial usually lasts from an hour to a few days, depending on the type and complexity of the role. You must be supervised at all times when doing a work trial.

A work trial is not an official offer of employment so if you are currently still employed, be sure to only do this on official leave that is approved by your current employer.

You should also ask how you will be assessed and agree on the length of the work trial before it starts.

In most scenarios attending a work trial would be the third step in the recruitment process after a successful phone call and interview.

However, there could be circumstances where the interview and work trial will be combined to save time if the employer is very busy, or there is a tight deadline.

Attending a work trial to understand what you are getting into is far better than accepting an unsatisfactory job to leave it in a few months.

Job longevity is important for a successful career, and attending job trials can minimise job-hopping and keep your employment history in good form.

4. Is it okay to not reveal my current salary when asked?

You are likely to get asked about your salary at some point during the application or screening process. It is an uncomfortable question, but the recruiter may be persistent in getting an answer.

Recruiters ask candidates about expected salary typically to assess fit for the budget that the company has for the role and if he or she is at the right experience level.

Knowing how much a candidate is currently compensated also allows the recruiter to determine whether their salary expectations are realistic.

So is it okay to not disclose your salary history? In short, the answer is yes.

While you are under no obligation to share your salary history, there is a polite way to decline giving more information about your salary to a prospective employer.

Read our guide on answering (and how not to answer) questions about salary.

5. How long should I wait for a company to get back to me?

Waiting to hear back from an employer after an application or interview can be both stressful and frustrating.

So how long does it take to hear back after applying for a job on average?

It depends. Every company and all positions are different. Some companies may have longer recruitment processes than others because of their size or location.

A position might take a couple of weeks to fill, while another could take a few months even if it is within the same company.

Job response times can vary according to numerous factors:

  • Company size and location

  • Needs of the company and the position

  • Experience and skills needed for the position

  • How many candidates that are being considered for the position

  • How many decision-makers there are

  • Where you are in the recruitment process and how many stages there are

Regardless of how long a recruitment process might take and where you are at, doing a follow up at each stage is an essential part of the process.

If you have just submitted your application, waiting a week or two before reaching out for an update is good practice.

Try not to follow up more than twice within the same week, or you might come across as annoying instead of eager.

After an initial call or interview, it’s fine to ask when you should expect to hear about the next steps, but the response a recruiter will give you is just an estimate. Realistically, the process usually takes longer than expected.

Alternatively, you can drop the interviewer a thank you note through email or LinkedIn (if you are connected) at the end of the day or the following day to show appreciation for their time. You can also include any follow-up questions that you may have.

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