The Resume Doctor, a popular USITT session, is now a career advice column in College2Career.

Q: Dear Doctor, what does an interview consist of and how should I prepare?

A: I’m glad you asked! Research published by indicates that interviews are a choreographed set of questions and answers, that hopefully develop into a conversation between you and your future employer enabling you to demonstrate your potential and how you will add value to the interviewer’s organization.  While there are a wide variety of types of interview and interview situations, most follow a similar seven-step pattern.

  1. Introduction – This is where the conversation begins between the two parties involved. Questions might include: Did you have any trouble getting here? How are things back at your old school?  What are you currently working on?  These soft questions help to establish rapport and allow you to settle into the experience.
  2. Job Outline/Description – Here the interviewer gives a bit of background information about the opportunity. They may reinforce key components of the job announcement, explain why there is a vacancy, or express hopes for what the company is seeking.  Listen carefully to the information being provided as these clues will prove valuable later.
  3. Questions – Now the conversation really begins. The interviewer will ask you a series of questions exploring topics that include: education, work history, interests, strengths, weaknesses (sometimes referred to as growth opportunities), and goals.  Hopefully you have anticipated many of the questions being asked and have direct answers to each that link your background to the job opportunity being explored.  Both of you are internally asking quite different but related questions – Do I want to hire this person? Do I want to work in this company?
  4. Probing/Follow up – As you become more comfortable in the interview, the tone can shift from what feels partially like an interrogation, to more of a dialogue about a mutual future. You may begin to feel that you would like to join this organization and get a sense from the interviewer that they are leaning this way as well.
  5. Candidate Questions – A good interviewer will give you a chance to ask some questions. This is your chance to get greater detail about the opportunity, revisit some aspect of your skills and talents that may have been overlooked, and discover whether you are really interested in the job.
  6. Next Steps – One way to reduce some stress in the job search process is to know what lies ahead. Knowing an organization’s timeline for future interviews and decisions can reduce the time your mind plays, “What if?” games.
  7. Thank you – The interview concludes with an expression of thanks for the time and the chance to get to know each other. Even if you don’t think you will be pursuing or getting this job, always leave an interview on a positive note.  You never know when your paths will cross again.


Being aware of this general outline can assist your preparation for your next interview and increase your chances for success.

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