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What is the Purpose of an Interview?

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Interviews Help Hiring Managers Assess Professional Acumen

An interview is an opportunity for a potential employer to get to know you—how you present yourself, how well you interact with the interviewing panel, and how you describe your work history and education. An interview is also a time for you to get a feel for the company and its corporate culture. Are they straight-laced, laid-back, do they seem to like your approach or feel stand-offish? Ideally, an interview should be a tool for both parties to decide—is this a good fit?

Advantages of an Interview

You can only tell so much about a person by reading a cover letter or scanning an online profile. Interviewing, by phone or in person, lets you get a feel for the candidate’s personality, style, communication skills and ability to think under pressure. This is especially important if the job requires a lot of in-person contact with clients and customers.

Disadvantages of an Interview

Let’s say you’re an exceptional employee—but you have social anxiety in situations like interviews. In this instance, the disadvantage of an interview is that you can’t make a second first impression. If you stammer, sweat or otherwise present yourself in a poor light, the in-person interview can undermine your chances of being hired.

The Purpose of Interview Questions

Employers ask interview questions to gauge how well a candidate will perform in a potential job. For example, in a high-stress sales environment, you may be asked how well you handle tight deadlines and earning goals. If you’re interviewing for a customer service position, you might be asked about how well you empathize and problem solve. Some interview questions will ask you to give examples of how you handled past workplace issues to get a feel for how you behave and perform in “real-world” situations.

The Purpose of Interview Follow-Up Letters

Interview follow-up letters allow you to simultaneously:

  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time;
  • Reiterate your qualifications and your enthusiasm for the position; and
  • Address any key issues you feel were overlooked in the interview.

You can also use the follow-up letter to inquire as to when second interviews will be scheduled and when the position is expected to be filled.

The Interview Assessment Template

An interview assessment template is a tool hiring managers sometimes use to ensure the interview process is fair and equally weighted among interview candidates. The form guides the interviewer and prompts the same questions for each candidate. It also helps track the same general information, such as education, qualifications and years of experience. It is particularly helpful in cases in which a hiring committee will review assessments at a later time, as it allows them to judge each candidate on the same criteria.

Tip

Interview protocol forms used in qualitative research, most often in academic settings, are similar in that a group of subjects are asked the same types of questions for data-gathering purposes.