How to Start an Interview (With Tips for Good Performance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 21, 2022

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Interviews are an essential aspect of job applications, and they play a significant role in your chances of getting the position you desire. Providing thoughtful and impressive answers during an interview is vital to achieving success in your application process. Understanding how to start an interview is essential for passing to the next stage of the hiring process. In this article, we discuss what a job interview is, explore how to start one, outline what to emphasize in your opening statement, provide tips for an impressive interview, and explain how to conclude an interview.

What is a job interview?

A job interview is a period in the job application process where the hiring manager and a job candidate have a structured conversation. During an interview, the prospective employer evaluates whether the potential employee meets the relevant job requirements. Employers generally ask questions about the candidate's skills, professional background, and information on their resume. The answers to the questions can help the interviewer determine the interviewee's suitability or otherwise. Consequently, it's essential that candidates leave a good impression on the hiring manager.

Job interviews can be in person, over the phone, or via other teleconferencing means. They can also be one-on-one or involve a candidate facing a panel or committee. Many organizations use both methods at different interview stages. Similarly, an interview can also be in groups. In this scenario, unlike the panel or committee interview, there is more than one interviewee. For a particular job position, it's not uncommon to have multiple interview sessions. Some interviews also involve taking written tests or other forms of assessment.

Related: What are the Types of Interview Formats?

How to start an interview

Here is an overview of how to start an interview in different situations:

1. Start with a respectful remark

You can initiate the interview by making a polite or respectful remark to the interviewer. This can either be a polite "good morning," "how are you doing," or "it's lovely to meet you." Avoiding remarks that appear insincere or controversial is important. For example, some employers frown at the remark "how was your night" as they believe it comes off as too personal. Polite remarks can portray a sense of casual care and concern for the interviewer. As a result of sincere concern, an interviewer can become more friendly and less intimidating during the interview.

2. Refer to previous positive communications with the interviewer

If you've had any interactions with the hiring manager before the interview, referring to it can be a good way to start your interview. This is only effective if the prior interaction was a positive one. You can casually remind them of the last time you met and mention something pleasant about the interaction. You can also use this approach to refer to previous interviews if this isn't your first one for the role.

3. Introduce yourself

A simple introduction at the beginning of an interview can keep the meeting on the right track. Remember that the interviewers read resumes beforehand and already have a fair idea of your qualifications, so keep the introduction short and simple. When introducing yourself, it helps to mention your most impressive qualifications briefly. This ensures the interviewer remembers why you're suitable for the job during the interview.

Related: Examples of What To Say in an Interview

4. Mention the name of the person who referred you if applicable

If you applied for the position because a person of determinable integrity referred you, it's often helpful to begin your interview by mentioning it. This is because such a person can have a weighty positive influence on the mind of the interviewer. Consequently, referring to the person at the start of the interview ensures the interviewer is conscious of your referee.

5. Talk about yourself when the interviewer directs you to do so

A lot of interviewers begin interviews by asking this question. In answering the question, it's essential you refer to aspects of yourself that relate to the role. For example, if the opening is for the position of a space law article writer, discussing how you fell in love with space is advantageous. Furthermore, while answering this question, include some details about your personal life. Employers can bond with you over a mutual extracurricular interest, for example, supporting the same football team. Employers are also likely to be more friendly if you have mutual interests.

Related: How Long Does it Take to Hear Back From a Job Interview? (With Tips)

What to emphasize in your opening statements

Here are some of the expressions you can use when starting the interview.

  • Enthusiasm: Demonstrating your enthusiasm at the start of an interview is essential for success. Your enthusiasm translates to the passion you're willing to showcase on the job if you get it.

  • Experience or capacity: Demonstrating your experience level at the start of the interview can help you impress the hiring manager. You can do this while responding to a question like "tell me about yourself."

  • Willingness to learn: Starting a new position involves a lot of learning so, employers are usually on the lookout for employees who love learning. Expressing a willingness to learn can give you an advantage.

  • Knowledge of the position: Demonstrating your familiarity with the role is essential for securing the job. While showcasing your knowledge, ensure you demonstrate what makes you best suited for the role.

  • Knowledge of the company: Expressing knowledge of the company or the organization increases your appeal to the employer. In addition, it demonstrates a passion for the role and excellent research skills.

Related: What are the Types of Interview Formats?

Tips for enjoying an impressive interview

Here are tips to help you enjoy the perfect start to your interview:

Research the company

Researching the company or organization is necessary to give you insight into its activities and the kind of candidates they prefer. It also helps you learn about the company's position on numerous matters. This helps you align yourself as closely as possible to the company's stance. You can research a company by reading its website, blogs, social media accounts, or recent publications. You can also speak to current or previous employees for more personal insights.

Related: Interview Preparation Tips

Research the interviewer

If you know the name of the interviewer before the interview, researching them can be beneficial. By researching your interviewer before your interview, you can discover their interests. You can leverage this information to make a positive impression, especially if you share similar interests. Additionally, you can discover their professional opinions and what they like about a candidate. This can help you answer questions more convincingly and improve your chances of securing the job.

Research the position

Knowledge of the role you're applying for is essential to pass an interview. Most job offers come with requirements and other essential information. You can use this information to understand what the job position entails. If this isn't sufficient, you can research online or talk to others with experience in the role. If the company has just created the role, you can look up other similar roles to better understand it.

Related: What Is a Working Interview? (With Benefits and Tips)

Understand your application or resume

Most interviewers come with a copy of your resume and reference it throughout the interview. As such, it's important that you're familiar with your resume's content. You can read your resume beforehand, so you remember every detail. The best way to ensure a seamless experience is complete honesty on your resume, so you can easily answer any questions. Giving answers that align with your resume communicates honesty and improves your chances of making a positive impression on the hiring manager.

Prepare possible questions and come up with answers

Your interviewer can ask various questions, and your responses significantly influence the final decision on your application. It helps to anticipate as many questions as possible and prepare the best answers for them. This way, you're more likely to sound confident and articulate when answering questions. Many job sites provide sample interview questions you can use for guidance. In addition, you can ask family or friends to help ask you questions and rate your performance.

Related:

  • HR Interview Questions: Preparing for Your Interview

  • How To Ace Your Next Job Interview

Concluding an interview

It's important that you conclude strongly to increase your chances of getting the job, and here are some ways to achieve this:

  • Ask questions. You can ask the interviewers questions as it demonstrates confidence and intelligence. For example, ask questions regarding your role, the company's culture, or the onboarding process.

  • Promote yourself. Beyond asking questions, you can also conclude an interview by reiterating why you're the best candidate for the role. Do this by restating your passion and commitment to organizational goals.

  • Address inconsistencies. You can end your interview by addressing any issues or inconsistencies during the interview. Do this confidently and persuasively for the best results, although if it was a very controversial issue, it's best to avoid it to prevent worsening matters.

  • Appreciate your interviewer. Appreciating the effort of the interviewer and politely thanking them for their time is a great way to end the interview. You can also commend their interview process during the interview or by mail after the interview.

Related: Digital Interviews: Questions, Answers, and Tips to Prepare

Explore more articles