If you receive a job offer after your first interview with a company, consider yourself extremely lucky! Over the years, it has become increasingly common to be put through a series of interviews before you get an offer–if you get one at all. And that is usually in addition to preliminaries such as a telephone prescreening that can determine whether you make it to the first-round interview. You could have a series of interviews on one day with different people, but you could also need to go back two or three times for separate interviews. That can be pretty tough on you as a job seeker, but as long as we’re in what’s generally a buyer’s market, you might not have much choice. The trick is to prepare yourself as thoroughly for multiple interviews as you would for just one–and then some.
It has always been important to do your homework before you go to an interview. You should research the company as thoroughly as you can–online as well as elsewhere (through people you know, etc.). You should also “know your stuff”–be confident of your ability to answer questions about your experience, skills, and so on. Those factors just become more important when you’re facing the prospect of a multistage interview process. The better prepared you are going into the first interview, the better prepared you’ll be for the others.
Ask for as much information as you can get from the person who contacts you to arrange the interviews, whether he/she works for the company or for an agency they are using to prescreen candidates. The contact should be willing and able to tell you things like the name(s) and title(s) of the people you will be interviewing with and give you some general information about the position you’ll be interviewing for. If possible, try to find out from that person what the probable salary range is for the position, so you’ll have an idea of where you fit on the scale. Ask your questions politely but firmly. If he/she can’t answer them reasonably well, that might be a red flag. You’re better off knowing that before you actually go to the first interview.
Pace yourself! Especially if the interviews are close together, try to give yourself some breathing room for mental relaxation. Also, go armed with enough “success stories” and other good ammunition so you don’t have to share everything in the first interview. Save something for the others if you can.
Ask if you can take notes during each interview. If you can’t, make sure you rough-out a summary as soon as possible after you leave. (I used to sit in my car and write items down before I pulled out of the company’s parking lot.) You’ll want to use your notes to refresh your memory when you prepare for the next interview and to help you craft a really good thank-you/follow-up letter for each person you interview with. That letter should be put into the hands of the interviewer as soon as possible after the interview–you can hand-deliver it to the company, mail a hard copy, email it…the point is, do it soon.
Don’t assume that if you make it to the final interview, you’re home-free on getting the job. If you don’t have a signed offer letter in your hands, you haven’t necessarily nailed it yet. That’s just one more reason it’s important to send the follow-up letter. Also, try to find out, either from your initial contact or from the last person you interview with, how long the company expects the hiring decision process to take. You can and probably should call to follow up if you haven’t heard anything within a week or so after the final interview, unless you were told the decision would take longer than that.