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!!
- 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.
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
- 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?