A Guide to the On-Site Interview

Most companies recruiting on campus include a company visit as a part of the hiring process. The company visit is generally a day of full interviewing and related activities at the company site. There is no way to describe every aspect of what can be expected from a company visit because structure and content may vary.


The company visit:

  • Allows the company to get a more in-depth assessment of the candidate prior to making a job offer.
  • Provides the candidate with the opportunity to see the company and meet some of its people firsthand in order to make a wiser decision if an offer is made.

Preparing for the On-Site Interview

Because of the importance of the On-Site Interview, it is imperative to prepare carefully. Candidates should attempt to learn as much about the company as possible. In order to prepare adequately, the candidate may:

  • Review notes taken after the initial campus interview.
  • Read the annual report.
  • Look at promotional material on the company.
  • Read industry and business publications regarding the company.
  • Review the company mission, long-range goals, company business philosophy, and managerial style.
  • Investigate the community in which the company is located.
  • Talk with alumni who are now employed with the company.
  • Talk with current employees in the line of work for which you are interviewing.

This information should be used to ask insightful questions designed to show interest in the company and the position. Questions should cover a range of topics including:

  • Corporate goals and direction
  • Career enhancement
  • Market growth opportunities
  • Competitive environment
  • Research and development
  • Evaluation system
  • Career paths for recent hires
  • Commitment to training
  • Community lifestyle

Arranging the Trip

  • The invitation to visit will usually come from a contact person at the company. This person is the candidate’s source of information regarding all aspects of the trip.
  • Ask for a trip itinerary and get the names and titles of all individuals who will be interviewing you.
  • Ask for the names of alumni that you may call while you are there to get an informal assessment of the company.
  • Any questions of clarifications should be addressed to the contact person prior to the trip.

Getting There

  • An overnight stay is often required as most visits are one full day in length.
  • Trips over 200 miles justify flying; under 200 driving may be preferred.
  • Travel agents provide a no-cost service to get you the best times and fares available when flying. Clarify with your contact person if you should make the arrangements or if they will.
  • Try to avoid scheduling very late flights or the last flight into a city.
  • Once travel plans and accommodations are confirmed, call or write the contact person to acknowledge.
  • Get directions from the airport to the hotel (check to see if the hotel has an airport shuttle) and to the interview site.
  • Be prepared to take cash (singles for tipping) and a credit card.


  • If taking a taxi or renting a car, keep all receipts.
  • Go to the hotel, check in, and ask for messages.
  • Verify the prepayment agreement; many hotels will ask to imprint a credit card for personal charges.
  • Schedule a wake-up call that will allow plenty of time to shower, dress, eat, and commute to the visit site.
  • Do not bill long distance phone calls to the room; call collect or use a credit card.
  • Review your bill for accuracy upon checkout.
  • Check out of the hotel before you leave for the interview site; take all belongings with you.

Evening Before

  • Many companies will arrange for dinner with an employee (your contact person, a recent hire, or an alumni).
  • Always reflect maturity and professionalism, even if in a casual setting.
  • Clarify ahead of time the degree of formality and dress appropriately.
  • Eat moderately, avoid alcohol, ask good questions, try to relax.
  • Try to determine the primary qualities they are looking for; you can then emphasize these in your subsequent interviews the following day.

Interview Day

  • A typical schedule includes three-to-five one hour interviews with various levels of management.
  • You will usually find a mixture of group and one-on-one interviews.
  • You may have an interview scheduled with a senior staff member, such as a vice president of human resources, or a partner in the firm.
  • Be prepared to greet each new person enthusiastically and answer the question as if it’s the first time every time.

After the Visit

  • Clarify when the company will follow up with you; average is two weeks, but there are many variations. Some companies will make an offer on the spot; others may wait up to one month.
  • Send a thank you letter to all people who interviewed you.
  • Send a separate thank you letter to your contact person.
  • In your letter you should either reaffirm your interest in the position or indicate no further interest if you feel it is not the right opportunity for you.

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