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Toot Your Horn

The interview process has changed. Hectic schedules, irregular hours, the Internet and other factors have all had an effect on how interviews are conducted. They're not just taking place in offices or conference rooms. Interviews are happening wherever and whenever the interviewer is available.

Did you know that at many companies you need to qualify before you can even be called in for an interview? What's on your résumé probably earns you a spot in this first round, but you'll need more to get you to the next level. Don't be discouraged. If you're in a competitive or very popular field, screening is a simple way for the HR people to manage the large number of applicants. Consider this your trial or practice session.

The person conducting this interview is usually a mid-level employee or an HR representative. Regardless of who is doing the screening or what form it takes—in-person, via phone, or virtual—the individual is looking for one thing. They want to make sure that you are who your résumé says you are. You may be given a series of tests to gauge your proficiencies and skills. They'll also ask you to talk about how you used your skills and what you gained from your experiences. Don't worry too much about winning this person over with your charm and wit; they may not have much say in the final hiring decision. However, you still need to be on your best behavior, as they may have enough influence to tip the scale in your favor.

The second time-saver for employers is the lunch interview. This approach allows the interviewer to continue with his or her daily duties without interruption and taking on an additional task. This may be great for him or her, but it brings forth a few new challenges for you. Don't get rattled. It's just an interview in a different venue. In fact, it may be even more relaxed than a traditional office interview. Plus, there'll be no phones to interrupt the conversation and no subordinates popping in to ask your interviewer questions. So relax, use proper dining etiquette (learn what's up with all of those forks if you don't know yet), read the morning paper for conversation ideas, and be yourself.

For more, read our Career Advice Documents or listen to our podcasts on Interviews.

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