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What is the Interviewer Trying to Achieve?

In order to be well prepared for the interview, it is necessary to understand the process of the interview and be ready for the kind of  questions that may be asked. In some cases you may think there is no reason for the interviewer to ask a specific question: however, if you know why it has been asked, it can seem less intrusive.

Let us first see how the basic format of the interview would be:
* You arrive at wherever the interview will take place and wait to be 
* You enter the interview room; introductions and handshake.
* General 'small talk' to put you at ease and establish rapport.
* Questions about why you want the job and how you found about it.
* The interview questions as usual.
* The interviewer will give information about the job, company, and terms and conditions.
* An opportunity for you to ask any questions that you may have.
* Information about when you will hear of the outcome.
* You leave the interview room.

Now let us look at the INTERVIEW TECHNIQUES which the interviewers adopt:

To complement the structure of the interview, the interviewer would adopt certain techniques and styles in order to try to elicit honest and clear answers from the candidate. A good interviewer will treat you politely, will ensure that you will be free from interruptions and noise, and that you have been put at your ease before the actual interview begins.

A good interviewer will test you through his/her questions to see if you are able to do the job, and will also give you information about the job. 
When answering the questions you will be given a fair hearing so that nobody feels cheated. It is important for the company that even if you do not get the post, you should not go away from the interview feeling unfairly treated. Good interviewers know their limitations and will not talk too much, but will give you a fair chance to speak. You should listen well 
while they are talking, stay looking attentive and when answering ask if you can add anything if you are not sure whether to keep talking.

During the interview, the interviewer may take notes; do not be put off by this. Most interviewers will jot down a few reminders of the things that you have said so that they can remember all the facts later and make an informed judgement on which candidate to appoint. It is in your interests that they write rather than forget you! Don't ever make the mistake of trying to see what the interviewer writes; it probably won't help you and it will destroy your concentration on what you are saying.

The questions can be asked in a variety of ways. A good interviewer will link the questions well and the conversation will flow as one question leads naturally on from another. The type of questions which may be used are open, closed, compound, hypothetical, leading etc. Most interviewers will try to ask all the candidates the same sorts of questions so that they have a basis for comparison, whilst still leaving them enough flexibility to probe areas of possible weakness. Depending on the structure of the interview, the balance of questions will differ.
Open questions, such as 'tell me about.....' give you a chance to expand,and it is up to you to decide what is relevant and how much to say. Closed questions are often asked by more inexperienced interviewers or as an attempt to stop you rabitting on - they require only a yes/no answer or a particular single response. If you are asked a lot of these questions, try to add a little after giving the yes/no, but not too much! Compound or multiple questions are really several questions asked all at once. The interviewer may be testing your memory and concentration here. Hypothetical questions are asked to see how you would respond to certain situations; for example, if such and such happened, what would you do? They represent an attempt to find out how you work and what sort of things you take into account, along with some assessment of your problem-solving ability. Leading questions tend to be asked when the interviewer is trying  to help, or is not thinking. With a leading question, the answer is almost given to you, often with a statement followed by 'don't you?' or similar. If the candidate has become very nervous, this type of question can help to rebuild confidence as they are pointing you in the direction of the 'right answer'. The interviewer will also ask probing questions, designed to elicit more information. These may start with 'Why...?' or 'how did you......?' etc. it is a technique used to get the interviewee to expand on what they have already said.

The interviewer would also summarize what you have said periodically in order to check that they have got it right. When you are talking, you may be encouraged by nods of heads, etc. This all helps you to feel confident and shows that they are taking an interest in you. Good interviewers will tell you about their worries regarding your ability to do the job and give you a chance to answer them.


Interviewers are humans too and may not be experienced in this type of situation or be interviewing by choice. This is particularly true of line managers, but should not be so of personnel specialists. Trained interviewers would take care of their own prejudices and bias. But these cannot be eliminated completely.

Looking at your application could have set up prejudices and bias, as can the things you say in the interview. If you background is similar to that of the interviewer, he/she may well begin to the biased towards you, and 
unconsciously weigh the answers to other questions slightly more in your favour than they would otherwise have done.

Prejudice works the same way, but in reverse. The interviewer may be prejudiced against certain physical characteristics for example, which may seem very unfair, but does happen.

Interviewers often assess individuals very quickly as they enter the room. Typically they would analyze the candidate in about four minutes or so, which means that your first four minutes are very important. People who 
had training in interviewing are aware of this and try to minimize the effects. However, there is room to redeem yourself - the last few minutes and the way you depart from the interview are also very important. The memories or first impressions and last impressions count. Research has shown that interviewers can begin by working out who to reject rather than who to accept,, so try to keep back your weaknesses till the middle of the interview!


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