The Purpose of the Interview

From the applicant’s perspective, the purpose of an interview is to:
1. Determine whether or not the organization, culture, and the job are in alignment with his/her values/goals.
2. Generate a job offer.

From a company standpoint, the purpose of the interview is to answer two basic questions:
1. Is the candidate able to do the job effectively?
2. Would the candidate fit within the culture of the organization?

Remember that you and the interviewer each have distinct purposes for the interview and interviewing is a two-way street. It is as helpful for you in finding out about the employer as vice versa.

Pre-Interview Research

Before your interview, try to learn what you can about the format of interview and the people you will be meeting. Will you first have a telephone screening interview with the recruiter? Will you be interviewed on site or remotely? How many people will be questioning you – one or a panel of three or four? What will be the duration of the interview? Will they want you to give a presentation or take an assessment? Are you going to be expected to have a meal with the interviewing team? If possible, find out the interviewers’ names and job titles. Most of this information will be available from the person who contacts you to schedule the interview – and don’t hesitate to ask if it is not provided. Remember, this is your interview, and the more you know beforehand, the more confident you will feel. Keep in mind that many employers will require more than one interview as part of their hiring procedure.

In addition to learning what you can about the interview process, research the company itself. A common question is, “What do you know about our company?” and you want to be certain to be prepared with information about their mission statement, their products and services, and even about their competition or current challenges.

Types of Interviews

Telephone Interviews: These are typically “screening” interviews with the purpose of determining whether the company wants to bring you in for an in-person interview. Make sure that you have a good phone connection and a quiet place for your interview. Since the interviewer can’t see you, it is even more important to speak clearly and to verbally communicate that you are interested in the position and company.

Video or Skype Interviews: These are increasingly popular, particularly when you are interviewing in another state or country. Be certain you have a good connection, that the background looks professional and uncluttered, that there are no noise distractions, and that you look at the camera rather than the monitor so you make “eye contact” as opposed to appearing to be looking down.

Group/Panel Interviews: When more than one person is interviewing you, be sure to introduce yourself to everyone. Regardless of who asks you the question, make eye contact with and engage each interviewer. Bring enough copies of your resume for each person.

On-Site Interviews: Interviews occurring at the company, especially if they are second round interviews, are often a few hours long. Your visit may include a tour, lunch, the opportunity to meet potential co-workers, and interviews with multiple staff members and supervisors.

See types of interviews to learn tips about these and other kinds of interviews.