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Preparing for Job Interviews

During the interview process, there are many things that make one interview different from another. These unique characteristics may be related to things found in common with the interviewer and the job candidate; or from distinctive job characteristics which lead to a more in-depth conversation than planned; or just a lack of chemistry between the parties that result in an uneventful and short meeting. Although all interviews have unique dynamics, it is possible to prepare oneself as a job candidate for most potential eventualities.

There are four very specific things that take place in every interview that a job candidate can, and should, prepare for. They are:

  • the Entrance
  • the Introduction
  • the Dialogue
  • the Close.

Below is a brief outline of some key elements associated with each. This is not intended to be all-encompassing, but should be used as a guide to prepare you for the interview.

1. The Entrance (includes both verbal and non verbal components)

a. How does the candidate enter the room or approach the interview area. b.Greeting etiquette (hand shake, eye contact, posture). c.Seating sequence (does the candidate just plop down in a chair).d. Other non-verbal items (mannerisms, gate, confidence).

2. The Introduction

a. When the candidate is asked to share about themselves:

i. Negative - Handing the resume too early.ii. Negative - Reciting a scripted re-cap of the resume.iii. Negative - Not prepared to handle this portion. iv. Positive - Providing background in a conversational way.v. Positive – Giving just the highlights of areas that are important to the Positive – Asking a solid question of the interviewer(s) to stablish a conversational atmosphere and develop a connection with the interviewer.

b. When the interviewer is responding to a question, observations about thecandidate:

i. Eye contact.ii. Active listening.iii. Not just waiting for a chance to talk again.iv. Knowing when to stop that portion of the conversation to move to next phase.

3. The Dialogue (really conversing about the opportunity)

a. The candidate should not verbally list everything they have accomplished.

b. The candidate should reference specific things in the resume that makethem memorable (even conversationally invite the interviewer to highlightor underline that “one thing” that will make them remember).

c. The candidate should not concentrate on career goals unless asked. Theyshould instead focus on what can be expected of them as a team memberand the attitude they will bring to the job.

d. The candidate should keep the list of talents and accomplishmentsrelevant to the position. Use illustrative examples.

4. The Close

a. The candidate should let the interviewer know their level of interest in thejob.

b. The candidate should ask about timing of a decision and process (knowingthat in most cases there is a clearance time lime).

c. Sequence (does the candidate get up and leave).

d. Exit etiquette (hand shake, eye contact, posture).

e. Other non-verbal items (mannerisms, gate, confidence).

f. How does the candidate exit the room or interview area.


The interview is just one of the elements associated with the hiring process but is unique in that it is the only step which allows you, the candidate, to directly impact and influence the opinion of the information gatherer. The cover letter, the resume, the application and the follow-up letter are import parts to the process, but written communication can never replace face-to-face conversation. Written words are often misunderstood and are open to misinterpretation. The interview process is one of the few times the job candidate has the opportunity to process both verbal and non-verbal feedback to be sure his or her message is understood as it is intended. All four stages mentioned above happen in every interview. Preparing for each stage will put you in a position to succeed in any interview opportunity.

Written by By Craig Fuher CSUSB Alumnus (M.A. National Security Studies)Founder of Affective Business Intelligence Corporation)