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"The" Interview - What Happens?

Most interviews consist of three parts: Opening, Information Exchange, and Closing.

Opening (5-10 minutes)

The first impression is often critical. You should make eye contact, smile and appear eager, and give the interviewer a firm handshake. During the opening minutes, try to size up the employer so you can tailor your performance to his/her style and expectations. Observe the interviewer’s nonverbal habits. Consider statements that act as ice breakers to help you both relax. The opening sets the stage for the exchange of information in the next few minutes.

Information Exchange (questions and answers, 20 minutes)

During the information exchange, be ready to answer questions about your education, work experience, related activities, your interest in the organization, what type of work you are seeking, present and future goals. The employer will be looking for answers that meet his/her self interest. S/he will also be observing your personality, your communication skills, and your nonverbal signals.

During the information exchange, you should also ask any questions you have about the organization. Try to ask questions that indicate you know something about the organization and want to work there.

Watch for signs of waning interest during the interview. If there is a lag, pick up the tempo, but let the employer lead the interview.

Be honest about your interest. Bluffing can be spotted. Try to avoid giving the impression that you are "shopping around" for the best deal.

Don't worry about slips of the tongue. Most employers realize that people are nervous during job interviews. With practice you will improve. If you are stumped by a question, take a moment to compose your thoughts before answering.

Remember that you are interviewing the employer as much as s /he is interviewing you. Determine whether the organization is the kind of place that really suits you.

Inappropriate questions

There is naturally some concern about questions that may be asked by interviewers that seem to be discriminatory in nature. Such questions are not of themselves illegal, but using the responses to them in the decision-making process may be considered illegal. For this reason, many interviewers make it a point to avoid anything which can appear in the least questionable. Women and minorities, however, should attempt to anticipate any possible discriminatory inquiries and prepare responses in advance of job interviews. Counselors in The Career Center will be glad to discuss this further with you.

Closing (2-3 minutes)

During the closing, establish when you can expect to hear further from the interviewer. Be sure you understand all you need to know about the job. Many employers state that they are impressed by the candidate who candidly states at the close of the interview that s/he wants the job. (This is especially important for sales positions.) 

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