Interview timelines and structure

Not sure what to expect with your upcoming internship or job interview? Review the information and resources below to get a better sense of typical interview timelines and structure, and feel more confident as you navigate the process.

Remember, throughout your interview and job offer timeline, CAPD’s advisors can offer you support and guidance. Book an appointment in Handshake to connect with us today. 

1. Submitting your application & the screening process

The interview timeline can vary by company or industry. Some candidates hear back within days after submitting an application, while others can take several weeks or months. Here are some resources that might help you gain insight on a specific company’s interview timeline: 

  • Glassdoor interview reviews can be a great way to learn about others’ experiences interviewing with a particular company. Previous candidates will often share their overall impression of the experience, its difficulty, and whether or not they were offered the position. Additionally, some candidates will share example questions and overall timeline of the interview process.
  • Use MIT’s Alumni Advisors Hub to find alum who have connections to your target company and are willing to provide industry insights, mock interviews, and career conversations.

Typically, after submitting your application materials, the company will review your materials and decide whether or not you will be called for a first-round interview, or screening. The purpose of a first-round interview is usually to make sure you have the skills and experience necessary for the role, as well the motivation and fit for the specific company.

2. Second, third, and (sometimes) more interview rounds

After passing the first-round interview, many candidates move onto a series of interviews that can include a combination of behavioral, technical, and case questions. In each round of interviews, you will have the chance to meet with someone new – the hiring manager, an HR specialist, prospective colleagues, and more.

The typical interview structure looks something like this:

  • Greetings, introductions, and small-talk. 
  • Interviewer asks questions, and you will engage in mutual discussion about your background as it relates to the needs of the employer. 
  • You will be provided an opportunity to ask your interviewer(s) questions.
  • Wrap-up and discuss next steps in the process.

3. Receiving & negotiating your job offer 

Remember that each round of interviews is an opportunity to gain unique insight and perspective on the company, its values, and how your own interests align with the target role. This way, when you make it through the interviewing phase and (hopefully) receive a job offer, you will have determined whether or not the company is a good fit for you. 

While it may be tempting to accept a job offer right away, it is important to take time to reflect on and review the offer package, and get clarification on any areas of confusion.

Review CAPD’s job offer & negotiation resources to learn more. 

4. Accepting or rejecting your offer 

Whether you decide to accept or reject the offer for an internship, it is important to communicate your decision in a professional way. See CAPD’s professional correspondence samples to get started, and read Harvard Business Review’s advice on how to evaluate, accept, reject, or negotiate a job offer to learn more. 

Some additional resources