Interviewing Goals

The interview: the most important part of the job search process. Image shows a student being interviewed.

Goals of an Interview

Before you start preparing for an interview, it is important to understand the goals of the interviewer and your related goals. The overall goals are fairly obvious.  The interviewer wants to identify the best candidate for the position and your overall goal is to receive a job offer or at least make it to the next round of interviews.  However, beneath these high-level goals, each party has a set of sub-goals or objectives for the interview.  Understanding these objectives is key to having a successful interview.

The Interviewer’s Objectives

The basic objective of the interviewer is to develop a good understanding of a job candidate’s qualifications, interests and character traits that are relevant to the position being filled.  Different things are valued for different positions but recruiters are basically all trying to answer these five questions:

  • Is the candidate a person of good character that is not going to cause problems or disrupt teamwork?
  • Does the individual exhibit the necessary level of professionalism?
  • Does the individual have the knowledge and skills needed to do the job or can he/she be trained in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Is the individual a good fit for the position so he/she and rest of the team will be happy and productive?
  • Is the individual likely to become a good, long-term employee of the company or organization?

As you can see, interviewers are interested in more than just the knowledge and skills of a potential employee.  They are also very interested in the character and professionalism of a job candidate, and his or her fit for the position.  Concerns about character or professionalism usually results in the immediate rejection of a candidate, and job fit factors often get equal consideration in a hiring decision as knowledge and skills.   Fit factors include:

  • Job fit – the amount of personal satisfaction a candidate is likely to get from doing the work.
  • Organization Fit – The degree of alignment between the organization’s values, mode of operation, and workplace culture and the preferences of a candidate.
  • Location Fit – The extent to which the community and location of the position appeals to a job candidate.

The Interviewee’s Objectives

The interviewee’s objectives mirror those of the interviewer for the most part.  The interviewee should communicate that he/she can do the work and is a good fit for the position.  This is accomplish by:

  • Demonstrating good character traits and professionalism.
  • Effectively presenting relevant knowledge and skills that convincingly indicate an ability to do high quality work.
  • Showing a high level of interest in the position, the type of work being offered, the products produced and/or services offered.
  • Mentioning preferences for the work location, the size of the community, the type of organization, shared values, etc. that indicate the potential for a long-term employment relationship.
  • Showing an interest in learning more about the position and the company by asking good questions.


The Employment Process Menu


Step 1: Understanding Employers and the College Recruiting Process

Step 2: Determine Career Goals and Skillset

Step 3: Identify Preliminary Target Employers and Industries

Step 4: Develop Effective Marketing Materials

Step 5: Search for Specific Employment and Research Target Companies