The Real Purpose Of The Job Interview

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Rich was preparing for an upcoming job interview when he stumbled upon an article that caught his eye. The article discussed the real purpose of the job interview. The article shared that very rarely does a person get offered a job during the interview itself and therefore the purpose of the interview is two-fold: (a) To sell yourself, and (b) To gather information.

Selling Yourself

We all know that the main purpose of an interview is to sell yourself to the members of the search committee. You do this by being prepared, scripting out and practicing the answers to potential interview questions, having a quality sales pitch, dressing appropriately, knowing your strengths and skills, being up-beat and positive in your communication, being yourself, and successfully closing the interview. You will want to sell the members of the organization that you are the expert who can solve their problems, and you will want to build positive relationships with each committee member.

Gathering Information

Since the job offer rarely comes during the interview itself, a second purpose of the interview is to gather information about the organization. You will use this information during the follow-up stage of the job search process in an attempt to influence the hiring decision in your favor. In other words, during the interview you will both sell yourself to members of the search committee, and you will gather information that can be used later in the process.

As you interview and gather information, you will want to ask probing questions. You should take the approach as seeing yourself as a consultant where you are analyzing the organization and their situation. You will want to gather facts, understand what the committee members are looking for in a candidate, understand what concerns they have regarding your candidacy, and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the organization.

With the information you’ve uncovered from the interview, you will now want to send follow-up note cards or letters to everyone you met during your interview. This correspondence is used to thank the people for their time and is also used to sell yourself to them. Let them know that you want the job, what skills and abilities you bring to the position, and be very strategic as you really convince them that you’re the right person for the position. Each letter or note should be individually tailored to each person you met. This is where your information gathering really pays dividends.

In the end, Rich took good notes during the interview session and he knew what concerns each person had about him as a candidate, what each person believed were the problems within the department, and what each search committee member viewed as the qualities needed to be the right fit for the position. Rich used this information to convince them that he was the best person for the position, and he got the job.

The information in this article came from the book Getting Hired in College Sports. It is the most complete and comprehensive job search book in all of sports. To get a copy of this book, go to our website at Best of luck in your job search!


Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at, or his new book, Execute for Success at


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