Site Interviews

Once you’ve made it through the first (and second) round(s) of interviewing, the company is serious about you as a candidate. The next step is a site visit. Typically, the site interview may include interviews with several company employees. Take advantage of the site visit to compare the company culture and atmosphere with your personality and work preferences.

How should I prepare?

  • Keep any receipts. Most medium and large sized companies will pay your expenses.
  • Research the company ahead of time. The employer will expect you to be very familiar with them.
  • Study the job description and know exactly what you are interviewing for and why you want the position.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume, transcripts, references, and all employer forms that you have been asked to complete.
  • Bring at least five questions to ask.  Develop lists of different questions tailored to who you are meeting with (e.g., you can ask a human resources representative questions about the company culture whereas you can ask a potential co-worker more detailed questions about job responsibilities).  While you don’t have to ask all of them different questions, remember that they will be discussing the interviews with one another so you want to have some variation.
  • Be prepared to answer the same question several times. During the day you might meet with several people: your potential supervisor, co-workers and a human resources representative. They may ask you the same questions. Be enthusiastic, honest, and consistent in your answers.
  • Since you have already had the initial interview you should be more familiar with the company and the position for which you are interviewing.  Take time to reflect on what went well in the first interview and what you need to improve on.
  • Remember that you are always being evaluated. In group activities and during meals, your ability to work with people and your “fit” in the organization is being observed.
  • Know what to do if you receive an offer on the spot. In most cases, it’s better to think about the offer before accepting or declining. If you do receive a verbal offer and are not ready to make a decision, ask for written confirmation and tell the company when you expect to make a decision. Maintain communication with the company.

What to Expect

How long do site interviews last?

Site interviews may last anywhere from a half day to three days (including travel time). The interview starts from the time you arrive. Generally you will be entertained at a dinner the evening before a full day of interviews, with anywhere from just one up to ten other people. A tour of the facilities is a common aspect of a site interview. Remember that the social functions and tours are an essential part of the evaluation process; do not let your guard down. Be sure to be well rested, a full day is a long time to be “on,” don’t appear drained or unenthusiastic.

What should I wear?

You may have to dress business casual during travel in order to make a good first impression if someone is picking you up. If you are invited to a dinner the night before, business casual attire is appropriate unless otherwise indicated. For the day of the interview, wear professional attire. If the company tells you to wear business casual clothes to the interview, choose an outfit that is dressy and classy; instead of casual, such as khakis and polo shirts. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed.

Is there testing involved?

There is a lot of variation in site interviews, especially in regards to testing. Some employers will not have any testing, while others will have a variety of assessments or tests. Common tests used by employers are: group discussions or tasks, personality and aptitude tests, quantitative tests, oral presentations, and written exercises.

What should I look for in a company and its employees during a site interview?

  • Do people seem happy?
  • Do people know each other’s names?
  • Are they enthusiastic about their work?
  • Are they friendly? Do they seem helpful?
  • Does this seem like a good place to work?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the people and the facilities?
  • Remember that the interview is a two-way street. Be observant. What is the atmosphere like? Are employees friendly?  Can you see yourself working there?
  • Remember to ask when you can expect to hear from the employer again. If the employer does not respond within that time, you may phone or email the person who interviewed you to ask about your status.
  • After your visit, send a thank you note within one or two days to all of the individuals who interviewed you.   You should mention what you appreciated from the day’s activities and your interests in both the job and the organization.