The Interviewing Cycle

The Interviewing Cycle

How does the interviewing process work? What do you need to know before showing up? Start here!

Contrary to popular belief, the interview does not begin when “they” begin asking you questions. Rather, the interview begins much earlier in the process. In order to be successful, long before you show up for the interview you must:

  • Identify your skills and your abilities
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Prepare 5 or more success stories
  • Analyze your career objective(s) and goals
  • Review your resume…know it inside & out
  • Research the organization
  • Prepare to make a good impression (manners, appearance, posture)
  • Anticipate questions they will ask
  • Prepare your own list of questions to ask
  • Confirm schedule, interviewer(s) name(s), date, time, location

Having done these things you are now ready to proceed to the next step.

Get ready, because the interview actually kicks in with the introductions and not with the
first question.

When meeting the interviewer and other staff members, pay attention. Listen for the interviewer’s name and title. Listen to how people introduce themselves to you (Ms., Mrs., Dr., Mr., etc.). It is important that you address recruiters in the manner in which they prefer. So, look and listen!

When introduced to the interviewer, present yourself in a professional and confident manner. A firm, but not bone-crushing, handshake along with good eye contact (don’t look at the floor or inspect the ceiling) is essential in this first meeting. As you proceed into the interview room, watch for signals from the recruiter. Generally, the interviewer will gesture toward a specific seat in the interview room. If not, wait until you are directed to sit down! Sit erect with hands folded in your lap. Get comfortable, but don’t slouch or become too relaxed in your seat.

Now you are ready to respond to the interviewer’s questions.

MYTH: This initial phase of rapport building exists to set both the interviewer and the interviewee at ease. This is when you may find the interviewer asking about things that do not seem to relate to the interview or the position for which you are applying.

TRUTH: Every question, no matter how trivial, has a direct relationship to the hiring process. When the interviewer tries to break the ice, help him or her out! Learn the art of “small talk” and building rapport with the interviewer. Remember, this portion of the interview will set the tone for what is to follow.

Generally, you will find that there are two segments to the questioning. During the first segment, the interviewer will have the opportunity to question you about your skills, abilities, interests, values, goals, and aspirations. In the second segment, you will have the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions related to the position, the organization, the employer’s expectations of the new employee, etc.

Just as in your resume, honesty is a must in the interview. If you are asked a question for which you have no answer, it is better to say “I don’t know” than to ad lib a response. Experienced interviewers know when you try to “snow” them, and this will not help you in the interview. Instead, your best strategy is to prepare for the interview in advance.

The best way to prepare for the questioning portion of the interview is to study! Know yourself! Prepare five or more success stories and provide concrete, quantifiable data. Read your resume. Know what you’ve written about your work experiences, your education, and your extracurricular activities.

Research the organization (a minimum expectation!). What are the employer’s primary products and/or services? Where are they located? Know something about their operations and/or current events.

Review the “Typical Questions” section of this guide. You should be able to easily answer these questions when asked.

Repeat your key strengths several times. Show some emotion. Be enthusiastic about the organization and the opportunity.

Be prepared to ask several questions. Show an interest in the possibilities.

When the interview is over you will know. Watch for the signs: body language, a simple gesture, or a subtle question may signal the end to the interview. When you get the message that the interview is over, conclude your discussion in style and with grace, but also be sure you understand what happens next in the process.

Before you conclude the interview you should:

  • Ask the interviewer for a business card. You will want to send a thank-you note soon after the interview and this way you will have the correct spelling and person’s title.
  • Ask when you will find out if a decision has been made.
  • Ask how they will contact you (phone call, email?).
  • Ask who will be contacting you (the interviewer, Human Resources staff, etc.).
  • As the interview concludes, once more offer the interviewer a firm handshake, thank them for their time and exit.

Congratulations! You have now completed the formal portion of the interview.

Although you have completed the formal portion of the interview, you have one more thing to do: the post-interview review. Take some time to replay the interview. What worked well? What did not work so well? Which questions were you less prepared to answer? How do you feel about the interview in general?

By answering these questions, and jotting down some notes and tips, and by addressing areas of concern, you are actually preparing for your next interview. You have completed the interview! Now, it’s on to your next interview and time to start this process over again.