The Interview Timeline

For those who have limited experience interviewing, understanding the overall interview process and what to expect can be a big source of uncertainty. While different companies will have unique processes for how they interview and hire, there are some commonalities that you can often expect to help you better prepare. The outline below is a simple breakdown of what a common interview timeline might look like for a full-time position.


1. Application

  • When you apply, check to see if there is a mentioned deadline date on the job posting, these often are written as application closing dates or when application screening will begin.
  • It is difficult to predict exactly how long it will take for your application to be reviewed, as this can vary. However, you can always be proactive and reach out to the employer to inquire about your application status.
  • If there is no date listed, it is appropriate to check in on the status of your application around 1-2 weeks after submitting.

2. Interview One (Screening Interview)

  • Who’s there: Often a recruiter or direct supervisor for the position.
  • Time: Approx. 30 minutes.
  • Method: This is almost always remote, either over the phone or via video call.
  • Questions: They'll ask about your basic skills and past experience and offer some details about the job opportunity. It is also an opportunity for you to ask your questions to determine if you are interested. Depending on the position and company, they may share the salary with you or ask you what your expectations are. 

3. Interview Two

  • Who’s there: Often direct team members or department members.
  • Time: Approx. 30-60 minutes. 
  • Method: Remote or in-Person.
  • Questions: They’ll ask more analytical questions related to the position to determine if your experiences and skills match the responsibilities of the role. Be sure to carefully review the job description and be ready to explain your experience that relates to the requirements. This interview may also include the expectation that you share your portfolio and discuss your creative process.

4. Interview Three (Final Interview)

  • Who’s there: Often more senior employees or other constituents you may be working with outside of your department or team.
  • Time: Ranges depending on industry, but may consist of several meetings and last multiple hours.
  • Method: Remote or in-Person, but this stage is more likely to be in-person.
  • Questions: They’ll ask more wide-ranging and open-ended questions, it is common to have more of a dialogue with who you are speaking with. They will assess your knowledge and experiences rather than your direct skills. They may want to see how you think through processes and approach problem solving. This stage may also include a presentation of your creative work and/or sharing your portfolio with team members who haven’t seen it yet.

5. Reference Check

  • The company may ask for a list of references. This means you are a final candidate and they are speaking with your references to confirm their decision to extend an offer.

6. Offer

  • You will receive a call or email either from HR or the direct supervisor with a verbal offer. We encourage you to also request an official written offer letter from your prospective employer. 
  • The phone call, along with the offer letter, are a chance to review and discuss terms of the offer to ensure you are comfortable with all aspects of the offer before accepting. 
  • Receiving an offer is an honor, but you are certainly not obligated to accept it. You can respectfully decline an offer if you feel it is in your best interests to do so.


Important Caveats To Note

  • Interviews for internship positions may not follow this process. It is not uncommon for an internship hiring process to consist of only 1-2 interviews in total.
  • Some interview processes may be longer or shorter than others depending on the company and interviewer style
  • It is not uncommon for the final interview to consist of a lunch or dinner with team members. Though a bit more casual in tone, this is still part of the interview!
  • Interview processes sometimes include a project assignment depending on the industry. This is sometimes called a “design challenge”. You may be given a prompt by the company related to their work and then asked to complete a project within a limited period. These are used to assess your technical and creative problem-solving skills.
  • Unless you are told when you should hear back between each step of the process, it is appropriate to reach out after a week to politely inquire about next steps.
  • It is important to send "Thank You" emails to everyone you meet along the way through each step of the process, ideally within 48 hours after the meeting. If you do not have direct emails, forward your message to the recruiter or HR contact and request that they send your message to the interviewers.

Now that you have become familiar with the interview timeline, be sure to go back and review tips for how to prepare for an individual interview experience.

Interview Prep