The Hiring Process: What To Expect at Every Stage

By Indeed Editorial Team

January 7, 2022

When you’re looking for a new job it can help to know what to expect during the job search process. Understanding the stages of this process can help you manage your expectations of how long it can take from job application to job offer. In this article, we provide an overview of the job search process so you’ll be ready to start looking for your next career opportunity.

What are the main stages in the job search process?

While individual companies may differ on their hiring processes, here is a list of the most common stages and how you might approach each one:

1. Start your search

The best way to start your search is to identify the reasons you’re looking for a new job. For example, you may want to change industries or pursue a more senior position with a higher salary and more leadership experience. Whatever the case, know that you're not alone. Many people search for jobs throughout their careers, even when they feel satisfied with their current job.

This stage will also include networking to expand your professional contacts. You can join professional organizations or attend conferences and events geared toward your industry and skills.

Take the time to explore new roles or career paths by reading job descriptions posted on websites like Indeed. Look for positions that interest you and research them further. Take note of the requirements and duties of jobs so you can evaluate whether the role would align with your career goals, skills, interests and values.

2. Prepare your resume

Your resume is where you list your skills and accomplishments to show the hiring manager that you are qualified for the position. You can find help with writing your resume online. Here are a few basic tips:

Resume Format

Image description

Resume Format

  1. Name and contact information

  2. Summary or objective

  3. Professional history
    a. Company name
    b. Dates of tenure
    c. Description of role and achievement

  4. Education

  5. Skills

  6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)

  • Be brief. You want the hiring manager to quickly see your qualifications. Keep your resume to one or two pages, while also making sure it is clear and easy to read.

  • Target your audience. Tailor your resume to each open position you apply to. If you have a lot of skills and experience, list only those that are relevant to the job.

  • Include a summary statement. Start your resume with a sentence or two summarizing your suitability for the job. Briefly state your experience and skills so the hiring manager can see at a glance that you are qualified.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing

3. Prepare your cover letter

Some hiring managers request a cover letter with your resume. This is a single-page document that accompanies your resume and summarizes its contents. If you include a cover letter, be sure to:

Cover Letter Format

Image description

Cover Letter Format

  1. Date and contact information

  2. Salutation or greeting

  3. Opening paragraph

  4. Middle paragraph(s)

  5. Closing paragraph

  6. Letter ending and signature

  • Introduce yourself. Provide a short paragraph where you give your name, the job for which you are applying and what interests you about the role and company

  • Talk about your skills. Mention the skills and qualifications on your resume that qualify you for the open position. This helps to reinforce your suitability for the job.

  • Tell a story. Describe an experience or a project you worked on that demonstrates you are uniquely qualified for the open position.

Remember, you only need to include a cover letter if the job posting asks for one, or if the online application form lets you attach one.

Related: How To Write a Cover Letter (With Tips and Examples)

4. Submit applications

The job posting should indicate what you need to submit. If there is an online form, complete the required fields and attach your resume as directed. Include your cover letter only if the form requires one. Creating or uploading your resume on Indeed allows you to apply for jobs in one click and employers to find you for open positions.

If you apply by email, put your name and the job title in the subject line and attach your resume. If you need to provide a cover letter, either attach it along with your resume or use the email as your cover letter.
You can also prepare a spreadsheet to track your submissions. On your spreadsheet, list the job title, company name, hiring manager’s contact information, the date you apply for the position, and a status line.

5. Interviews

If you get an interview request, this means the hiring manager has selected you as one of the quality candidates for the position. The interview will help the hiring manager determine if you are the correct person for the job. Depending on the number of candidates and the nature of the job, there might be more than one interview. Also, you might have a phone interview before an in-person interview. Here are some interview preparation tips:

Do your homework

You should already know something about the company from your job search. Now you need to dig a little deeper. Search the company’s online presence and social media accounts for information you can use during the interview. This will also give you a chance to learn more about the company culture and whether this environment will be a good fit for you.

Prepare answers to common questions

You can find lists of common interview questions online. Prepare your answers to these questions before your interview.

Be ready for behavioral questions

You might be asked questions about how you approached certain job challenges in the past. Your answers give the hiring manager an idea of how you might react to similar situations in the future. Use the STAR method to prepare your answers.

Popular behavioral questions include, “Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it” and “Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you resolved it.”

Dress for success

Learn the company’s dress code before your interview by either asking the person who scheduled your interview or searching the company’s website and social media accounts. When in doubt, dress on the conservative side. Select your clothes the night before and make sure they are clean and wrinkle-free.

Be polite to everyone

When you arrive for your interview, treat everyone you meet as if they have a vote in your hiring. That includes the person at the front desk and the people who ride with you in the elevator. Politeness is a trait that every hiring manager looks for in a candidate.

Follow up

Be sure to send a follow-up email after each interview. Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you and express your continued interest in the position.

Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

6. Background checks

At some point, the company may conduct background and reference checks. Be sure the references on your resume are people who will speak well of you, and their contact information is current. The manager may also verify your education information and any other facts you have supplied about yourself.

If you have provided social media information on your resume, expect the hiring manager to visit those sites. The hiring manager is looking for consistency between how you present yourself online and in interviews.

7. The job offer

You will typically receive a job offer either by phone or email. If by phone, you can expect a follow-up email shortly after that call, which will review the details of the job offer. It will include the salary, the start date and information about the company’s benefits package. You don’t have to accept this offer immediately. If you wish, you can reply with a counter-offer, or ask to negotiate the salary before you accept or reject.

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