The Interview Itself

The Interview Itself  

Your Arrival

It is vital that you arrive on time, preferably about 15 minutes early but not more than that. This is a nice amount of time for them to prepare for you. If you are late, regardless of your reason, it is almost impossible to salvage the first impression. Also, be prepared so you know where you're going in advance. When you arrive , introduce yourself to the receptionist and give the name of the person you are scheduled to see. Be courteous to everyone you meet. Employers are known to consider the reactions of others, such as secretaries and receptionists, prior to the hiring decision.

Greeting the Interviewer

When you greet the interviewer, be sure to stand tall and take a step toward the interviewer. You should look confident, alert and energetic. Shake the employer’s hand firmly. If you are sent to the room where the interviewer is standing, walk toward him or her and shake hands. If he or she is seated and does not look up, stand up, or offer a handshake, wait a moment and then sit down. However, wait for the interviewer to initiate the conversation.

Establishing common ground/icebreakers

When a person is invited for an interview they are already presumed to possess the basic qualifications for the job, such as education and work experience. The goal of the interviewer at this point is to look for other characteristics of the possible employee to determine how they will fit into the organization. Some of these qualities may be honesty, credibility, intelligence, competence, enthusiasm, spontaneity, integrity, friendliness, and likeability. Employers hire people they like and who interact well with the rest of the staff.

Drawing out information through the exchange of questions and answers

During the interview, be prepared to answer a variety of questions. Remember, the employer wants to know what you will bring to the company/organization. Your job is to convince him/her that you are the best person for the job. Gear your responses to what you have to offer. You may be asked specific questions about your education, work experience, career goals, etc., or you may be asked general, open-ended questions. One interesting question that is common is, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” Be prepared for the unexpected and try to respond to the underlying question.

Summarizing information and understanding

The end of the interview is often an awkward time for both the interviewee and the interviewer. You are worried about the overall impression you made on the employer. You may feel you forgot to communicate important information about your strengths. At the close of nearly every interview, the interviewer verbalizes some variation of “Glad you could come by today. We have several other people to interview. We’ll be in touch.” In response, most interviewees shake hands, thank the interviewer and leave. Don’t do this!

At this point, try to briefly summarize your strengths as they relate to this job. For example:
I’m really glad I had the chance to talk with you. I know with what I learned when I reorganized the accounting department at XYZ Corporation, I could increase your profits too.”

Closing/Indicating the next step to be taken

You need to keep in contact with the employer during his or her final deliberations. This can be done by asking the interviewer when he or she expects to make the hiring decision. If the response is “Friday of next week,” then ask, “If I haven’t heard by Monday, may I give you a call?” Almost everyone will say you may, and you will have solved your problem of wondering when you will hear about the decision and what to do next. If you haven’t heard anything by the time the designated Monday arrives, do call. Use the Interview Information form to keep you on track.

After the Interview  

Follow Up

Always follow up the interview by sending a thank-you letter. Do this within 24 hours after the interview. It is a thoughtful and courteous thing to do and will often set you apart from the other applicants who normally do not do this.

If you send the thank-you letter right away, it may arrive while the hiring deliberations are in progress. In addition to expressing your gratitude for the interview, briefly restate the reasons you believe you are right for the job. You should include in the thank-you letter some of the important points from the interview as well as an expression of your interest in the position. Contact the person who can hire you - not the HR department. Your intention is to keep everyone’s memory of you fresh. Use the Record of Follow Up to help keep track of what you've learned.

**Portions adapted from Interview for Success by Caryl Rae Krannich and Ronald L. Krannich