The company-site interview may be scheduled after successfully passing the on-campus screening interview, a phone interview, or it may be the first and subsequent interviews that result from contacting off-campus employers. No matter how you get there, the company-site interview is typically the required final step in the interview process before an eventual job offer. However, you first need to survive the close scrutiny that comes along with it before job offers will be considered. Instead of meeting with just one person, you may be meeting with three or four or even more. Instead of a simple half hour interview, you may be subjected to a half or full day of interviews. And tests and assessments. Yet with all the anticipated potential rewards now dangling within view.
The company-site interview is also your final opportunity to evaluate the company. You will be given the opportunity to see the inside of the company and meet with some of the key people. You will learn more about the company work culture. You might meet some of the people with whom you will be working. And you will gain a better understanding of the true work environment.
Your sponsor is the person who helped you get to this step in the process. It may have been an employee referral, but also can include the person who interviewed you prior and recommended you to go on to this step. This sponsor now has a vested interest in you doing well at the company-site interview. This person, who may have initially been a screener, is now an includer. You will be the personal representation of what they view as a potential new employee. In a way, their professional reputation is on the line whenever a new person is brought back to the company-site. No one wants to hear the dreaded, "Why did you invite that person back?"
So take advantage of this turn of the tables. The person who may have prior been screening out is now an ally. Be prepared to ask some questions:
"Who will I be meeting with?"
"What is this person's background?"
"What will they be looking for in the interview?"
"Will there be any other activities scheduled during the day?"
"What can I do to prepare myself further for your company?"
"Can you send me additional material about your company?"
You have a free opportunity not only to ask the questions, but to ask for recommendations. You will get a true insider view of what it takes to be successful at your company-site interview. Your sponsor is now your advocate. Build your personal connection to your mutual benefit.
Depending on the company, you may have a published agenda for the day. This may include simply names and times of scheduled interviews, or additional information, such as titles and departments for each person, and the purpose of each interview.
The interviews can range from peer level to potential managers to executives. Many companies will have you meet with several different managers, any one of whom could be your potential manager. At the peer level, you may be given the opportunity to meet with one or two recent graduates who have just begun work with the company in the past year or two. The purpose of this interview is to give you a feel for what the company and the position are really about. But do not let down your guard in this interview or get too chummy. Even peer interviews have input into the final decision and are often used as technical interviews. Interviews with managers two or three levels above your entry position are sometimes designed to give the executive the final rubber stamp, but are often included as a final sell for a prize candidate.
You may also be asked during the course of the day to take a test or assessment. These tests and assessments are used to bring a level of objective standardization into the hiring process.
Following are some of the signals that an offer may be near: