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SMC|Student Services|Career Services Center |Interviewing

Interviewing

Purpose of Interviewing

  • To convince the employer/interviewer that you can make a contribution to their organization
  • To appraise the job opportunity
  • To avoid being screened out
  • To land the job

Before the Interview

  • Know yourself: strengths, values, interests, skills, accomplishments, goals, etc.
  • Prepare your materials: resume, references, transcripts, supplemental materials.

Interview Image Do's & Don'ts

  • DO wear a suit
  • DO wear neat and conservative hair
  • DO give a firm handshake at the beginning and end of the interview
  • DO have clean and trimmed fingernails
  • DO maintain steady eye contact with the interviewer/s
  • DO thank them for their time
  • DON'T wear big jewelry or hair ornaments
  • DON'T exhibit nervous body behavior, like fidgeting
  • DON'T wear heavy perfume or cologne
  • DON'T wear facial jewelry
  • DON'T wear white socks (men)
  • DO wear a conservative tie (men)
  • DO ask the recruiter for a business card
  • DO DRESS FOR THE INTERVIEW, NOT THE JOB!!

GENERAL TIPS:

  • Err on the conservative side
  • If your interview attire speaks louder than you, you won't be heard. The louder your clothes are, the less attention the employer will pay to your capabilities
  • Wear a neat haircut. Extreme may be good for TV but not for the interview
  • Practice good hygiene: shave, brush teeth, and wear deodorant
  • Make sure all clothing is clean and neatly pressed and coordinated
  • Keep cologne, perfume, after-shave, etc.
  • Style your hair neatly. If you have long hair, pull it back or style it to keep it out of your face
  • Carry a briefcase or portfolio with copies of your resume. Women can avoid carrying a purse this way

Research the Employer

  • Talk with faculty, alumni, other employees, etc.
  • Research the organization on the web
  • Find out information on: ownership, products, services, new projects, location of facilities, headquarters location, recent market developments, competitors, growth patterns, reputation, size, international operations, training, evaluations, etc.

Types of Interviews

  • Directed/Structured Interviews: formal and direct; guided by the interviewer; questions are mostly job related; a no•nonsense style.
  • Unstructured Interviews: open-ended questions; relaxed style conducive to shedding light on candidate's personality; be assertive and stay away from 2-3 word answers; provide examples.
  • Stress Interview: sometimes used when job has strict guidelines; purposeful long gaps of silence; get candidate's true colors to show through.
  • Telephone Interview: often used to narrow job pool; many times the interview is with a panel.
  • Group Interview: several candidates are interviewed at the same time; sometimes used with large organizations that hire large numbers.
  • Panel Interview: more than one interviewer posing questions; many times they are set questions asked of all candidates; helpful hint-maintain eye contact with everyone.
  • Behavioral Interview: the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation; employers predetermine which skills are necessary for the job; your responses need to be specific and detailed; always listen carefully to the questions and ask for clarification if necessary; your interview preparation should include identifying examples of situations where you have demonstrated behaviors.

Typical Interview Structure

  • Making contact: establish rapport and structure
  • Establishing qualifications and opportunities: information gathering and giving
  • Closing: ask questions of the interviewer; interviewer outlines next steps
  • Administration/Preparation: interviewer completes notes and review of resumes, references, evaluations and other materials
  • Thank you letter: interviewee sends thank you note immediately

What Employers Really Want To Know

  • Academic Record: often an indicator of motivation and work ethic
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills: get along with different types of personalities and communication effectively
  • Leadership: not afraid to assume responsibilities; work with minimum supervision
  • Enthusiasm: attitude and behavior; alert, responsive and energetic
  • Flexibility: expand and change with organization
  • High Energy Level: capable of handling multiple tasks; show commitment to job
  • Maturity: know how to handle yourself in a leadership or difficult situation
  • Special Qualities: what are your 3 most marketable strengths

Typical Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you applying for this job?
  • What can you offer us?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
  • What do you hope to gain from this job?
  • How did you choose your academic field?
  • What are your career plans for the next five years?
  • Describe your work style.
  • How do you prefer to be supervised?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why did you take your last job?
  • Describe a situation in which you were successful.
  • What motivates you?
  • How do you handle stress?
  • How do you think a professor or friend who knows you well would describe you?
  • What have you learned from your past mistakes?
  • How do you determine or evaluate success?
  • Describe your most rewarding college experience.
  • Will you relocate. Do you have a geographical preference?
  • How do I know you're the best candidate?

Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.
  • Describe a time on any job that you held in which you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
  • Give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  • Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get an important point across.
  • Give an example of an important goal, which you had set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it.
  • Describe the most significant or creative presentation, which you have had to complete.
  • Tell me of a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you or vice versa.
  • Tell me about a time when you worked under tremendous stress.
  • Describe the most rewarding aspect of your previous job.
  • Describe the most challenging or frustrating aspect of that same job.
  • If you could change one thing about your current boss, what would that be and why?
  • Give me an example of a problem you faced on any job and how you went about solving it.
  • Describe an experience when you dealt with an angry customer.
  • When was the last time you "broke the rules" (thought outside the box) and how did you do it?
  • What was the wildest idea you had in the past year. What did you do about it?
  • What is the most difficult decision you've had to make and how did you arrive at your decision?
  • When taking on a new task, do you like to have a great deal of feedback and responsibility at the outset or do you like to try your own approach.

Illegal Questions

Interview questions must all be job/experience related. If questions come up that are illegal or improper, such as questions about your family plans, etc, then you need to consider your options:

  • Refuse to answer: this can tell the employer you think the question is improper
  • Answer the question: you decide to swallow your pride and privacy
  • Answer the legitimate question and ignore the illegal or improper questions
  • Ask a question rather than answer the improper question. When in doubt, ask for clarification

Questions You Ask

  • What do you look for in applicants.
  • What continuing education and supervision is provided.
  • In what directions do you see your organization going in the near future.
  • What are some current challenges here.
  • What do you like most about your work here.
  • What makes a successful employee in your organization.
  • How would I be evaluated.
  • What's a normal work week like.
  • Is there other information I can provide you.
  • When will your hiring decisions and offers be made.
  • What are the specific duties required.
  • Please tell me about your experiences with this organization.

Evaluation of the Interview

The employer will consider the following in evaluating your interview

  • Your handshake, attire, eye contact, etc.
  • A demonstration of awareness of the company/organization
  • Relevant questions asked
  • Responsive listening
  • Enthusiasm about the company/organization
  • Ability to fit in with the company/organization
  • A fit between the company's needs and your talents/skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work as a team player
  • Motivation and energy level
  • Attitudes toward work, self and others
  • Ability to lead or supervise

After the Interview

  • Send a thank you letter within 24 hours of the interview. You may email or fax your letter, but always send a hard copy in the mail for follow-up.
  • Complete any written applications and forms requested.
  • Make notes to yourself
  • Write down key things that were said. These can be used in your thank you letter

Helpful Hints

  • Focus your energy towards the employer and remember the non•verbals: a good strong handshake and body language.
  • The eyes have it! Look at the employer when you speak and listen.
  • Be aware of fidgeting. Watch for nervous habits.
  • Plan well ahead. Get your materials in order and do your research.
  • Practice!! Set up a mock interview with a career counselor.
  • Arrive at the interview early.
  • Be yourself during the interview and be honest.
  • Ask questions. Prepare your list and bring it to the interview.
  • Remember to dress for the interview, not the job.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume.
  • Keep your answers concise and on track. Don't fall into a rambling trap.
  • Give your own views, not what you think you are expected to say.
  • Be enthusiastic, but don't oversell yourself.
  • Ask yourself the following questions: Can I do the job? Do I have a good work ethic? How interested am I in this kind of work? Will I fit into the company? Why do I want to work for this company?