An on-site interview gives the opportunity for both the employer and candidate to thoroughly evaluate each other. The employer has an opportunity to make a more in-depth assessment of the candidate; the candidate has a chance to observe the work environment, interact with staff, and gain perspective about the organization’s services and location.
Acknowledge or decline an invitation to visit an employer in a timely manner. You should only accept an invitation if you are genuinely interested in the position and have not accepted another job offer. Be sure to have a voicemail message that is clear and professional, should you miss a call from an employer.
Confirm your plans with your professors. Avoid conflicts with exams or project deadlines. Because interviews vary among organizations, ask for an interview schedule, including names of interviewers, when you agree to a site visit.
The Travel Plan
Confirm who is responsible for expenses and travel arrangements before accepting an invitation for an on-site interview. Some employers will reimburse for legitimate expenses associated with the interview and some may not pay any expenses. Be sure to get directions ahead of time—not the day you are traveling. Plan for unforeseen delays, such as traffic, road construction, getting lost, etc.
Day of Interview
An interview day can range from 1-8 hours. Your visit may include multiple interviews, information sessions, tours, meals, and other activities. Most on-site visits incorporate some combination of one-on-one, behavior-based, and group interview formats. Some employers may invite many candidates to visit at one time so they can observe interactions in a group or team setting.
You typically meet with many people; you may answer the same question more than once. Do not be surprised if you are asked questions you were already asked in a previous on-campus interview or phone interview. Remember to respond thoroughly and enthusiastically, as if it were your first time hearing the question.
You will be evaluated throughout every activity in the day, including meals. Your primary goal during meals should be to talk, rather than eat. Your manners, conversation skills, and judgment may be evaluated, especially if the position requires client contact. Order a light meal. Avoid foods that are messy or difficult to eat. When ordering, go for menu items that are mid-range in price. Avoid alcoholic beverages during interviews, although one glass of wine may be permissible.
Before leaving, find out the hiring timeline and when you should hear back from them. Collect business cards, or at least the name and title, from everyone you meet during the interview process. Remember to send thank you notes!