The beginning of the interview

People tend to form an opinion of others within the first ten seconds of meeting them. If this first impression is negative, it will be hard to shake off. However, if the first impression is positive, you can afford a few slip-ups after that. At the beginning of the interview, therefore, you should look the interviewer in the eye, smile confidently and greet him or her courteously.

As your interviewer will immediately start forming an impression of you, learn to introduce yourself clearly and confidently. The best way is simply to say your name: "Good morning. Birgit Michel." Refer to your interviewer with their title and last name - "Nice to meet you, Dr Roberts" - unless they invite you to use their first name.


REMEMBER! Plan to arrive for your interview 10-15 minutes prior to the appointed time. Arriving too early confuses the employer and creates an awkward situation. By the same token, arriving late creates a bad first impression. Ask for directions when making a rrangements for the interview.


During a Job Interview

The information exchange will be the primary part of the interview. It is when you will be asked the most questions and learn the most about the employer.

Speak clearly and enthusiastically about your experiences and skills. Be professional, but don't be afraid to let your personality shine through. Be yourself.

Listen carefully. You will want to remember what you learn about the job, and you will certainly want to answer the question that was asked.

Be positive. Employers do not want to hear a litany of excuses or bad feelings about a negative experience. If you are asked about a low grade, a sudden job change, or a weakness in your background, don't be defensive. Focus instead on the facts (briefly) at what you learned from the experience.

Pay attention to your nonverbal behavior. Look the interviewer in the eye, sit up straight with both feet on the floor, control nervous habits (cracking knuckles, drumming fingers, shaking legs, touching face etc.), and smile confidently as you are greeted.

Don't be afraid of short pauses. You may need a few seconds to formulate an answer. The interviewer may need time to formulate an appropriate question. It is not necessary to fill up every second with conversation.


The end of the interview

This is your chance to show how much you're interested in the company and to find out if the job is really as interesting as it seems. Always ask questions because this demonstrates your prior research and interest in the job. Your questions migh t be direct, logistical questions such as, "When can I expect to hear from you?" (if that has not been discussed); a question to clarify information the employer has presented The job advert mentioned possibilities for advancement. Could you tell me a little more about that?; a question regarding the employer's use of new technology or practices related to the career field; or a question to assess the culture and direction of the organization such as "Where is this organization headed in the next five years?" Do not ask specific questions about salary or benefits unless the employer broaches the subject first. The employer may also ask you if you have anything else you would like to add or say. Again, it's best to have a response. You can use this opportunity to thank the employer for the interview, summarize your qualifications and reiterate your interest in the position. If you want to add information or emphasize a point made earlier, you can do that, too. This last impression is almost as important as the first impression and will add to the substance discussed during the information exchange. Be polite and show enthusiasm: "It was very nice to meet you, and I am excited by the prospect of working for you. I look forward to hearing from you."


REMEMBER! Don't ask questions for the sake of it.


After the Interview

After the interview, take time to write down the names and titles (check spelling) of all your interviewers, your impressions, remaining questions and information learned. If you are interviewing regularly, this will help you keep employers and circu mstances clearly defined.

Follow up the interview with a thank-you letter. Employers regard this as evidence of your attention to detail, as well as an indication of your final interest in the position.


Non-verbal communication

A lot of judgements are made about people from visual impressions, and how they say things instead of what they say. And once a judgement's been made, it's difficult to reverse it. The key is understanding what people base judgements on. It really doesn't matter whether they're right or wrong if their judgement is negative, you don't get the job.


The body

Some people say that it's possible to read' a body that every small movement has a meaning, that will tell you something about a person's personality and mood. Even if that's true, though, some of the language' changes from culture to culture and in any case you're not likely to be interviewed by someone with such detailed knowledge.

Much more important, in a situation like an interview, is the possibility of someone seeing movements of yours caused by nervousness and thinking they have another meaning. For example, a person who doesn't make eye contact is often regarded as having something to hide. Someone sitting back in a chair gives the impression of not being very interested. (Next time you're in a long discussion, look at the way someone who's bored leans back into their seat.)

The solution is not to make nervous movements easy to say, of course, but the point is to be sufficiently prepared for an occasion like an interview that your body language is natural. You simply try to avoid the sort of body movements that can be misunderstood, or those such as fiddling with a ring, or a shirt button that simply say you're nervous.



This can be a tricky area. From your point of view, your clothes might just be what you feel comfortable in. To someone else, they may seem to be making a deliberate statement', such as "I dress to be comfortable, not smart". Again, it really doesn't matter who's right. What's important is the impression that's given.

Unless you know otherwise, it's safest to assume that in a business environment clothes should be formal - whatever formal' means in a particular culture (and in a particular type of climate, especially where it's hot and humid).

At a first meeting such as an interview - most business people are likely to think of your appearance in terms of words like tidy', clean' and unobtrusive'. They may add smart' or business-like', depending on the job you're applying for, and also the industry it's in.

For example, if the job would mean dealing face-to-face with customers, a company will have standards of appearance. Even if they provide uniform, they rely on employees to look after the rest of themselves.

If in doubt, ask what's expected before you arrive for an interview, rather than guess.


REMEMBER! If you get the level of formality wrong, it's easier to become more relaxed than to be more formal. If you're wearing a tie, you can always take it off and undo the top button of your shirt. But you can't put on a tie if you don't have one, or you're wearing a T-shirt.



Anyone listening to you, either face-to-face or on the telephone, is interested most in what's being said, and then in the words and expressions used can you express yourself clearly? is there a lot of slang in what you say? and so on.

But the way we say things is also bound to be noticed. Being quiet is taken to mean lacking confidence, being loud the opposite. Speaking fast, especially if you have a strong accent, can make you difficult to understand. Put yourself in the other person's place: if you were hearing your voice for the first time, would you seem too soft, too loud or too fast?


REMEMBER! When you're on the telephone, and the person at the other end has nothing except your voice, you need to talk the same way you do when you're face-to-face that is, with hand movements. All of us move our hands in ways that makes the voice emphasise some of the words we're saying. Someone listening on the phone may not see the hands but they'll hear the results of them. If you've ever thought someone at the other end of the phone sounded friendly, chances are they were smiling. You can give the same impression by doing the same thing. It doesn't matter if the smile looks forced nobody can see it....


Checking understanding

Choose the correct answer (a, b, c, or d).

1. Preparing for an interview means

a. memorising an exact set of answers.

b. putting all possible answers in writing and reading out from your notes during the interview.

c. thinking about and planning how you are going to answer all the questions you might be asked.

d. making friends with each member of the interview board.

2. Which of these would you NOT do as you prepare for an interview?

a. Find out about the company.

b. Find out about the job.

c. Think about and plan your answers.

d. Do nothing, hoping to impress the interview board with your spontaneous answers.

3. Which type of questions aim to test out information written on your application form?

a. human questions

b. factual questions

c. open questions

d. closed questions

4. Which type of questions require a YES or NO answer?

a. human questions

b. factual questions

c. open questions

d. closed questions

5. What do you do if you're faced with an interviewer who isn't very good?

a. You need to take control.

b. You do nothing.

c. You leave the interview early.

d. You tell the interviewer they are not very good.

6. Which of these would you NOT do at the end of an interview?

a. Show how much you're interested in the company.

b. Ask questions simply not to be silent.

c. Find out if the job is really as interesting as it seems.

d. Ask questions to clarify anything you're not sure about.


Task 2. Roleplay

For each role-play one person plays the person described in the left column, who is looking for a job. The other person plays the person described in the right column, who is an employer.

Person being interviewed Interviewer

1. This woman is in her mid 40s. This woman is in her mid 30's, and is

She was a music teacher in her the owner of a small, fashionable

native country. She worked in boutique. She is energetic, nervous,

a school with hundreds of and businesslike. She doesn't like to

children. She has never sold waste time. She needs a sales-person.

before, but she does not like

clerical work, and would like

to get into sales. She has good

taste, and enjoys being well-dressed.


2. This woman is in her mid 30s. This man is the owner of a small

In her native country she was import-export company. Many of

an economist. She has just his clients speak the applicant's

completed a course in a business native language. He is a sympathetic

school, has bookkeeping skills, person, but wants a bookkeeper

and can do light typing at about who will give him a good day's

thirty-five words per minute. work.


3. This man is a college student, This man is 52, very strong, big, and

age 20, who wants to work over serious. He owns a construction

the summer vacation. He wants company and sometimes employs

a job that requires a lot of summer workers for heavy jobs

physical work. like pouring cement, etc.


Take turns. Act out a job interview between the two people.

After each interview, let the students decide if the applicant will get the job.



Language Development

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