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The Interview Game

Anatomy of an Interview

There are many different types of interviews designed to serve different purposes or situations. Regardless of the type of interview, most will follow a similar pattern involving three stages:

  1. Establishing rapport.
  2. Exchanging information.
  3. Closing the interview.

Establishing Rapport

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and establishing rapport is when first impressions are made, and the tone of the interview is set. Many professional Human Resource managers agree that the decision to hire is greatly influenced by the first five minutes of the interview. A good interviewer will introduce themselves, and take the lead. Follow their lead - if they are friendly and personal, be are friendly and personal; if they are formal and more businesslike, you also have to be formal and more businesslike. Some employers use what seems to be casual conversation to get to know you on a more personal level - this may be crucial to a hiring decision!


  • Smile and maintain eye contact. This is one way of communicating confidence, even if you don't feel it. For many people this can be a problem if they are naturally shy or come from a culture where eye contact is considered rude. For those people, concentrate your focus on the space between the interviewer's eyebrows or a point just above it. This may help as you are not looking directly into their eyes.
  • If the interviewer offers his or her hand, shake it firmly. If they don't, it is appropriate to offer yours.
  • Wait until the interviewer sits or offers you a seat before sitting down.
  • Politely refuse refreshments - they can get in thee way of the interview process and there is noting worse than spilling coffee all over the interviewer's desk.
  • If the interviewer is making small talk, participate. Keep your answers short and positive.

Exchange of Information

This is the bulk of the interview. It is your opportunity to let the interviewer know what you have to offer, and your chance to learn more about the organization.


  • When you answer a question, look the interviewer in the eye. For the shy or culturally sensitive, see above.
  • Watch the interviewer's body language both when they ask questions and when you answer them. If he or she looks confused, ask if you can clarify anything.
  • Be aware of what your body is saying. Avoid closed postures. Sit upright, but not stiffly. Try to find a comfortable position as that will make you feel more relaxed.
  • Control your nervous habits. Don't swing your foot, talk with your hands (to an extreme), or fiddle with jewellery, buttons, pens, etc.
  • Show that you are interested in the job by asking questions about the company, the position and the industry.
  • Try not to appear bored or anxious. Don't look at your watch.

Closing the Interview

When the interviewer is done gathering the information that is needed, they will ask if you have anything to add, or if you have any questions. This is your opportunity to mentally review your inventory of skills and make sure that you have communicated everything that you wanted to. If any of your questions have not been addressed during the course of the interview, now is the time to ask them.


  • Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration.
  • Ask when you can expect to hear from them. It is appropriate to ask as to when all of the candidates for the position will be notified of their decision.
  • If it is not known when a decision will be reached, ask if you can phone in a week's time to inquire about the progress.
  • If the interviewer offers their hand, shake it firmly. Otherwise, it is fine to offer yours first.

If not already discussed, you can offer to leave a sample of your work, or portfolio if you have one.