The Purpose and Basics of a Job Interview

An interview serves two major purposes:

  1. To allow prospective employers the opportunity to discover if your training, skills, and personality make you the best candidate for the position they are filling.
  2. To enable you to uncover enough information about the position to decide if it is right for you.

Both of these processes occur at the same time. So while you are trying to decide if the job is right for you, the prospective employer is quickly deciding if you are right for the job. Therefore, every interview should be treated as your most important interview.

The Basics

The following are some basic guidelines and recommendations designed to help turn an interview into an offer:

  • First impressions sell. Dress in business attire. Men: Conservative suit, pressed shirt (preferably white), tie, and shined shoes. Women: Conservative dress, suit, or pant suit and blouse, hose, and shined dress shoes (no sandals).
  • Schedule the interview during the week. If a weekend is unavoidable, try to include at least a part of a Monday or Friday to enable you to observe normal business conditions and all the key people.
  • Take your spouse/significant other. Set up an itinerary so that while you interview they can visit local schools, speak with real estate agents, or whatever else will address their special needs and concerns. Their input can be obtained immediately, avoiding a second trip to the area. If an offer is extended, you will be able to respond quickly and decisively.
  • Leave the kids at home. Children are distracting for everyone and keep you from concentrating on the main issues at hand.
  • Schedule time for the interview. At least a day and a half should be scheduled; two full days, if possible.

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