Stages of the Interview

STAGE 1: Introduction

Lasting approximately two to three minutes, you are meeting the interviewers and being escorted to the interview room. It is essential that you start strong, offering a firm handshake, standing confidently, and making good eye contact. Some reports indicate that employers will make their decision to hire a candidate within the first 30 seconds of the interview! Employers may take the time to share information about their organization. Feel free to jot down notes to remember key points for future reference.


The longest portion of the interview, this is when the employer asks you questions and listens to your responses. If the interview is a 30-minute screening interview, this portion is typically about 20 minutes long.

STAGE 3: Your Questions

The employer will ask if you have any questions. This is your chance to demonstrate your knowledge of the organization by asking thoughtful questions. Always come prepared! Bring at least three questions, but also feel free to modify them based on the information you learn during the interview. Be sure to make notes as the interviewer answers your questions.

STAGE 4: Closing

During the last few minutes, take the time to end on a positive note. Reiterate your interest in the position and gather business cards from everyone present. Be sure to thank them for the invitation to interview and offer a firm handshake while making good eye contact.

Sample Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

The most effective questions are those that demonstrate your sincere interest in the position and organization.

  • Can you describe the organizational structure of your company/agency/organization?
  • How does the area I would be working in fit into the overall organizational structure?
  • Can you describe the corporate culture or atmosphere of your company?
  • What kind of supervision and training would I receive?
  • How will I receive feedback on my job performance?
  • Would I be working on my own, or on a team? Can I meet my team members?
  • Would I be working with people outside of the company? Clients? Vendors?
  • Would my responsibilities progressively increase throughout my work terms?
  • Would I have the opportunity to travel?
  • Have you ever hired a UMBC student/graduate before? Are they currently working for you? May I speak to them at some point?
  • How would you describe the ideal candidate for this job?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here? What would you change if you could?
  • How would you describe a typical day in this position?
  • What specific projects do you see me starting first?
  • What skills are most important for this job?
  • What are the prospects for advancement beyond this level?
  • How many people have you hired as interns/co-ops in the past, and where have they gone after they graduated?
  • Would it be possible to see where I’d be working?
  • Your annual reports show a steady growth over the last three years. How rapidly do you plan to grow over the next three years?
  • What particular computer equipment and software do you use?
  • How much opportunity is there to see the end result of my efforts?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process? How would you like to be contacted for follow up?

Are There Any Questions I Shouldn’t Ask?

Never, never, never ask any questions about salary, benefits, vacations, holidays with pay or sick days. Wait for the manager to bring up the issue of salary or wages. When they ask what salary you expect, ask what the standard salary is for your qualifications. Keep in mind that the company has a set salary for each job description and level of experience. So, play it safe. Wait for the manager to throw out the first figure. See: Negotiating and Evaluating Offers.

If You Want the Job, Ask for It!

Managers get frustrated when candidates don’t express enthusiasm for the job. If the manager seems to be someone you’d like to work for, if the company seems solid and  reputable, if they offer the security, growth and challenge that you want, look the manager straight in the eye and tell them you want the job.


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