Giving the Job Seeker Control in the Job Search Process: The Interview Agenda


The idea of an interview agenda is easily illustrated with an example.

A job seeker has recently been offered an interview one morning the following week. They begin preparing for the interview by doing some basic research on the company. Where is the company located? How long will it take to get there?

They then begin to formulate questions to ask the interviewer. How long have you been with this organization? What do you look for in a model employee? What is the long-term plan for the company? Though they are not often asked during an interview, these questions can ultimately provide pertinent information that can move the job seeker forward in the job search process.

Ideally, these questions are asked near the beginning of the interview since it is their responses that are critical in determining the job seeker’s next step. Understanding the agenda for the interview is another way of sharing control of the job interview process.

Depending on the company, the agenda will vary and can potentially change very quickly. The interviewer will try to set the tone for the meeting—their main goal is to gather as much information about the job seeker as possible, to find out if the candidate is the right person for the job. Essentially, to assess and determine the level of risk they would incur if they were to hire the job seeker.


The goal of the job seeker is to gather as much information as possible so that an intelligent decision may be made about working for the employer. The job seeker’s main goal is to find the opportunity that best fits their unique career plan. It is extremely important to be aware of what type of employer is doing the interviewing. This is especially important when a job is truly needed.

If the job seeker wishes to manage the job search, however, it is critical that they approach each opportunity with as much control as the employer. Going through the job search process is a frame of mind. Rejections are inevitable and often occur much more often than actual job opportunity acceptances. This is a fact of life that needs to be addressed early on.

The interview agenda is one way of dealing with this issue.

When putting together an Interview Agenda, five key agenda items are required:

  1. Identifying the right person (To whom does this position report?)
  2. Ensuring a “fit” for the position (Does the opportunity fit in with the job seeker’s intended career plan?)
  3. Identifying the hiring process (Will there be more than one interview?)
  4. Identifying the hiring time frame (When would the chosen candidate start?)
  5. Identifying the right dollars (Doe this opportunity meet the job seekers financial expectations?)

A job seeker who enters with an agenda shifts the goal of the interview toward gathering the information needed to make an accurate assessment of the opportunity. In essence, this changes the focus of getting the job to actually determining if it is the right job giving some control of the process back to the job seeker.

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John-Paul Hatala
Dr. John-Paul Hatala is currently an Assistant Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology in the Human Resource Development Program, a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa and an Adjunct Professor at Louisiana State University in the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, Baton Rouge. Additionally, Dr. Hatala is the founder of the Social Capital Development firm Flowork International and is Chief Researcher at His academic research focuses on social networking behaviors, social capital, human resource development, career development and the transition to the labour market. John-Paul has a recently released a book entitled, The Job Search Cookbook: A Strategic Recipe for Job Search Management and has been featured in such media outlets as the Globe and Mail, CBC Radio and Global TV.

1 Comment

  1. March 18, 2013, 10:07 am   /  Reply

    […] be very clear about this – any job seeker who is currently interviewing for new opportunities should be prepared to provide current and, in […]

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