This is where the criminal decides if you are safe to attack.
Yes, with all violence, the assailant's safety is a critical factor in deciding whether or not to attack. If a criminal was truly mentally ill, he would feel compelled to act, even if there was no chance whatsoever of success. If someone is so emotionally outraged that he were truly "out of control" he would not hesitate to physically assault ten Hells Angels. The fact that he doesn't indicates that there is still a part of them that is calculating risk to themselves.
"Can I get away with it?" is a major motivation for what people decide to do -- or not do. Hence, the interview.
This is one interview you want to fail. If you fail, the assailant decides that he cannot successfully, or easily, attack you. Then if he is a criminal, he will proceed to seek easier prey. In the case of an emotionally upset individual, he will change tactics. For example instead of physically assaulting you he will proceed to stand back and proceed to verbally abuse you. This allows him to 'win' without putting himself at physical risk.
There are five basic types of interviews. The one a criminal uses depends more on his personal style than anything else.
(5) Silent – A silent interview is when a criminal puts himself in a position to observe you. He may never speak until the attack, but he has been watching all along. He may position himself out of sight in a parking structure and follow you. Or he may make his presence known and decide to attack if you show fear of his presence