Interview Communication: The Body of the Interview


Whenever the interviewer feels it is time, he makes the transition to the business portion of the meeting.  When this happens, he wants to learn about your professional background, including general intelligence, technical and cognitive skills, and experience.  The professional background check is to be sure you meet the company’s job specifications.  Research concerning your background took place prior to the interview, but face-to-face discussion is also critical.  If you are new to the job market he will want to learn about your academic career and internships.  If you have had job experience, he will want to understand why you accepted and left each position to gain clues as to what drives and motivates you.  Although your agenda calls for you to learn about the company, the position, and the people, hold off for a while.  Follow the lead of the interviewer.  Although we are focusing on professional content now, the interviewer will continue to evaluate your personal characteristics, which began in rapport building, throughout the interview.

A few guidelines are worth remembering:

  • Listen actively and remain focused on the topic at hand
  • Accomplish the interviewer’s agenda first.  This may be question and answer
  • Once a comfort level has developed, then help the interviewer to create a stimulating, challenging interactive conversation — 50% talk each
  • Do not talk too much (use all the oxygen in the room)
  • Keep your answers short and crisp
  • Give more detail if the interviewer wants it
  • Follow the 60 second rule — your answer should not go on longer than 60 seconds without involving the interviewer (Note:  the interviewer’s signal can be verbal “go on” or non-verbal “interviewer leans forward in obvious interest”)
  • Be totally conversant with your competencies and accomplishments including all the details
  • Volunteer personal information but do not get too informal — this is an interview and not a conversation between two friends
  • Do not volunteer negatives, especially about people

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