There is, in fact, a logical process to the interview. By knowing the particular sequence of the interview, you will perform with greater confidence. Every interview is going to have its own flow, but the following is a sample format for most one hour interviews.
1. Walking in the Door – Arrive no more than 10 minutes early. Go to the bathroom and check your professional appearance. Believe it or not when you walk in the office door, the interview has started. It’s like being on stage, your words and actions will be evaluated. Your image begins well before the actual interview. The secretary or receptionist is often the gatekeeper and may give feedback to the hiring manager about the first impressions. Be sure you treat them with respect and enthusiasm. You may be asked then to have a seat and wait. Observe the surroundings and get a feel for the work environment. Collect your thoughts and think about how you want to prepare for the Greeting stage by being yourself at your best. Be sure you stay relaxed and control any nervous habits.
2. Greeting (1 Minute) – Next, your interviewer comes out of their office and meets you for the very first time. Stand up straight, smile proudly, look them in the eyes, shake their hand firmly and introduce yourself with a positive tone. Say, “It’s very nice to meet you, (and restate their name)?” This increases your chances of remembering it. First impressions and body language are critical. The interview is won or lost at this stage. By pretending this is your very first day on the job, you will reduce your anxiety.
3. Breaking the Ice (2 to 3 Minutes) – A good interviewer may assume you are a bit nervous. They may open by engaging you in some small talk to put you at ease. This may include such topics as traffic, parking, the weather, etc. Avoid politics, religion or any controversial topics. Notice the surroundings very carefully especially for the types of picture or items that decorate the office. Make a positive comment and connection to them to help you break the ice. By getting the interviewer to like you, this demonstrates your interpersonal skills and ability to get along with others on the team.
4. Interview Expectations (1 Minute) – The interviewer may begin by outlining the agenda and scanning your resume. Be sure you get a sense of how long the interview is so you can tailor your answers to the time you have. If you have any urgent questions or need clarification, then ask. Otherwise wait to ask later. Get settled in and be prepared to respond sincerely in the upcoming stage.
5. General Interview Conversation (15 to 20 Minutes) – Most interviewers like to start with “broad-brush” questions then move into a series of questions about your education, experience, credentials, skills and interest. Give a flawless performance of your key achievements and prove your knowledge of the company. Be clear about the top 3 to 5 things that you want to emphasize in order to convince them to give you an offer. Be sure to listen intently, reflect momentarily and then answer optimistically.
6. Further Probing (15 to 20 Minutes) – The interviewer will now probe further to see if you possess the required qualifications to be successful in the job. You will need to relate specific strengths-based examples from your background that match what they seek, but don’t ramble. The interviewer will be attempting to get a better understanding of your style, behavior patterns and potential for a blending with the organization’s culture. Expect questions that ask: How?, Why? and What did you do?
7. Asking Questions (10 to 15 Minutes) – The interview is a two-way conversation in which both parties form an impression. Ask intelligent questions that will help clarify your understanding of the job and organization as well as demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position. Do not ask about salary until an offer is made. The interviewer may sell the benefits of the position with their answers.
8. Closing (2 to 3 Minutes) – At this stage, the interviewer should be providing cues that it is time to wrap-up. During the final minutes of the interview, be sure you say something convincing that leaves a positive and lasting impression. Summarize why you are interested in the position and why they should hire you – seal the deal! Lastly, kindly ask them, “What’s the next step?” Do they need any additional documents such as a list of references, transcripts, writing sample, or application form? When will you hear from them again? Be sure you thank them for taking the time for granting the interview. Request a business card. Be sure to firmly shake hands and smile while maintaining eye contact as you part ways. Give a warm goodbye to anyone else you met at the office.
9. Follow-up – To stand out, be sure to follow-up with a thank you letter or note immediately. If you have not heard by the time they said they would contact you, call to check on the status of your candidacy and reiterate your interest in the job. Reflect on your experience.