Structure of a Job Interview

Learn about 6 major sections of an interview

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Interview preparation scares the hell out of most candidates. It doesn’t matter how much you prepare for an interview, there is always an ambiguity about interview questions.

In this article, we will try to learn a generic interview structure to reduce the interview related anxiety.

Most Interviews do follow a structure, which includes the following parts.

  • Rapport Building /ice breaking
  • Knowing about the candidate (mostly things beyond the resume or the connecting dots)
  • Job qualities related questions
  • Analytical Problems / Pressure Situations
  • Cooling down
  • Addressing interviewee’s doubts

Let’s explore these sections one by one:

Rapport Building/ Ice Breaking

This includes everything from common greeting statements to inquiring a little about your journey, your comfort level, etc. Some of the questions can be :

  • Have you been waiting outside for this interview for a long time?
  • Have you had your lunch, could you get time for that?
  • What are the candidates telling outside about their experience in this interview room?
  • How are you feeling at the moment? Are you nervous?
  • Wow, that’s an interesting name you have got, do you know what it means?
  • How was your journey?
  • Did you face any issue while coming here?
  • How was your stay?
  • Did you get to see the city?

The questions asked in this section are generally not asked for an evaluation purpose. xcept when you decide to screw up the interview in this particular section itself.

Remember, providing neutral answers is perfectly okay in this section as the interviewer is probably just trying to warm you up to the interview process and remove anything from your mind that you may be preoccupied with.

Some smart candidates use this opportunity to create a  great first impression through their amicable gestures, and witty answers to the generic questions that project a positive outlook towards life.

Knowing about the candidate

This stage includes questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “Walk me through your resume” and is intended to know the candidate’s background in order to check her/his alignment to the job.

The response to this question also reflects the candidate’s confidence, his thought structure, his interest in the job, influencers to his/her decisions in life and some other basic qualities.

This section relates to the candidate’s own life story. So there is no reason one should mess up in this section, rather leave “useful hints” for the interviewer to conduct the balance of the interview.

It makes sense to practice this question as much as possible. You should be able to give away your life/career history in 2-3 minutes that this section will generally last and that requires thorough introspection about past and future and a lot of practice.

We will discuss more this question in another article.

Job requirements related questions

Next will come to the questions related to job specific requirements. These can be guessed to the tune of 60-70% by researching well about the job description, job role, company and interviewer. You can get some hints from alumni and existing employees.

The balance 30-40% questions can be related to specific job-related skills, issues facing the company that you may or may not come across during your research, interviewer discretion and company traditions for the interview.

The more you research about the interview and the company the better will be the odds of getting a question that you are prepared for. So you must invest sufficient time researching before the interview and we will explore some topics to research in some later chapters.

The interviewer might also ask here your strengths and weaknesses, your future plans, dreams, and ambitions etc. just to confirm your synchronization with the company’s future plans.

Analytical Questions

Now that the candidate is sufficiently into the interview, the interviewer digs a little deeper and moves to analytical questions. Sometimes, these questions may lead to a pressure situation being created for the candidate.

A key to remember here is that there is no right or wrong answer to such questions. There is only a right or wrong approach. While evaluating your answers to the analytical questions, the interviewer will look for your approach of handling these questions.

Once you start demonstrating that you are on the right approach, the interviewers would generally help you themselves, to build the answer further and arrive at the final solution. That is why this section of the interviews is generally very interactive.

Generic Questions

These questions are for cooling down. Just like an exhaustive workout, after concluding the difficult part, the interviewer wants to ease your stress and will ask you very generic questions like your job preferences, interests, and hobbies, etc.

Handle this section tactfully so that you cover up for anything important that you feel has been missed out in the discussion.

Your Questions to the interviewer

In the last section, just before finishing the interview, the interviewer will try to address your doubts about the company or the job or any other generic or specific questions you have.

You must ask only about topics that are not available easily on the internet or company website otherwise, it may point towards your improper research and lack of passion. It is perfectly okay to reply in negative to this question, but it is preferable to have one or two things to ask as it indicates that you really are interested in the company, because you will most definitely have some queries about the job role or work culture or company, if you want to join them.

After this question, the interviewer will most likely close the interview. You must greet and shake hands if you are sitting close to the interviewers and leave with a smile and confidence.

The general interview process lasts anywhere between 20 min to an hour. However, the success of your conversation does not depend on how long it went, but on your ability to see through the company requirements and prepare hard for it.