The Function of a Job Interview The purpose of interviewing is to find out if there is a match between the hiring organization and the applicant, both in terms of skills relevant to the position and the organization’s culture and mission (goals). Interview Preparation Preparing for a job interview requires becoming informed in three basic areas: knowing yourself-including your career goals, skills and qualifications, and work style; knowing the requirements of the position you are applying to- what duties, tasks and responsibilities it entails; and knowing the employer-what are the stated goals of the organization and what is their method of achieving those goals; how is the organization structured and how do employees work together?
Being knowledgeable in these areas will help you to understand and articulate the “match” between you and the position/employers’ goals. Your ability to verbalize this match in an interview increases your chances of getting a job offer. Know your resume thoroughly, and be prepared to speak (comfortable and confidently) about yourself-your abilities, accomplishments, interests and career objectives. Some questions an interview might ask you include: Tell me about yourself. What motivates you in your work? What are your short term and/or long-term goals? Where do you see yourself five years? What do you think makes you stand out from other candidates? What are your major strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why do you want to work for our organization? What are your specific skills that qualify you for the position? While you should have a good understanding of the employer- its products/services, size of the organization, future growth, and reputation in the industry, you should also prepare questions for the prospective employer- these questions show your interest and knowledge of the position and the organization. Some questions you might ask an interview include: What types of change and growth has your organization experienced over the last several years? How does this position fit the overall organization structure?
What training and supervision is provided to new employees? How long is your new employee orientation, what does it entail? How many graduates work for your organization, if any, and how has their performance and career advancement been? Questions about salary and benefits, vacation time, etc. are generally not appropriate to ask until you have received a job offer, or unless the topics are brought up directly by the interviewer. Remember- you have more negotiating power once the employer has offered you the position! Visit Interview Preparation & The Art of Negotiation for additional information, tips and resources. At the Interview Arrive for the interview a few minutes early.
Your punctuality reflects your ability to be responsible and professional. Have extra copies of your resume and references ready to give to the interviewer. Many people experience anxiety when interviewing- while this is normal, and some anxiety can help you stay on your toes, try to minimize your feelings or stress if you fear they will interfere with your performance. Practice and preparation before your interview will help in this regard. Have all your materials prepared, your interview attire and transportation planned ahead of time. Additionally, many people find that rehearsing potential answers aloud (either alone or in a mock interview) makes them more comfortable and responsive in the actual interview. During the interview, be sure to make eye contact with the interviewer. Speak clearly, answer thoughtfully. Don’t hesitate to ask the interviewer to repeat the question if it was not clear to you. Follow-up for the Interview Take notes on the content of the interview and your impressions.
Remember, this is an opportunity for you to evaluate the employer just as they are evaluating you. Think about the information you learned regarding the duties and responsibilities of the position, the supervision and training you will be receiving, the values of the organization and the organizational culture. How do these qualities fit with your goals? Write a thank you letter to the interviewer (within a week at most). In the letter, you can emphasize key points of the interviewer and reiterate your interest in the position.