Interviewing

Before entering an interview, whether it be over the phone or in person, it is crucial you complete research on the job you applied for and the company.

Self-Reflect

Understand who you are and what you can and can’t do. Self-reflection helps when you’re faced with questions like, “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses?”

  • Make decisions about your current career goals; what you want to do, why you want to do it, and where you want to do it.
  • Analyze your strengths and weaknesses and be ready with specific examples that show how your positive traits will be an asset to the company.
  • Become comfortable talking about your involvement with clubs, Greek Life, sports, and other activities. This is a great way to demonstrate your leadership skills and ability to work effectively with others.

Know the Company

Interviewers love to ask the questions, “Why are you interested in working for us?” and “What do you know about our company?” Learn everything you can about the company by visiting its website and becoming familiar with the company’s history, products and services, current customer base, and potential new products. Review its competitors’ websites. Search LinkedIn, online journals, or news articles for recent company news.

Know the Job

Know the job description inside and out. Picture yourself doing the daily tasks that the job requires. This will help you ensure your skills, experience, and interests are a match with the job, and get you ready for questions like, “Why do you think you’re a good candidate for this position?”

Types of Interview


Screening Interview

For an employer, this is a way to quickly narrow the candidate pool and screen individuals via phone, on-campus, or at the company’s site.


Telephone Interviews

This is often done when the company is long distance or in the initial interview screening phase.


Online (Webcam) Interviews

This is becoming more popular for long-distance interviewing and the methods used could be Skype or a recorded video option.


On-Site Interviews

This is often conducted during the final stages of the interviewing process and is usually at the company’s site. It may involve a large portion of the day.

Sample Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you choose to interview with our organization?
  • What do you consider to be your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Have you ever had any failures? What did you learn from them?
  • Of which accomplishment are you most proud?
  • What motivates you most in a job?
  • Have you had difficulty getting along with a former professor/co-worker? How did you handle it?
  • What do you know about our organization (products or services)?
  • How do you think a friend, professor, or former supervisor would describe you?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to solve a difficult problem.
  • Give me an example of your experience working as part of a team.
  • Describe how you are able to work on several assignments at once.
  • Why did you choose your major? Why did you choose RIT?
  • In which campus activities did you participate? What did you learn from them?
  • Which classes did you like best? Least? Why?
  • Do your grades accurately reflect your ability? Why or why not?
  • What job-related skills have you developed?
  • What did you enjoy most about your last job? Least?
  • Give an example of a situation in which you provided a solution to an employer.
  • Give an example of a time in which you worked under deadline pressure.

Technical Interview Questions

Employers want to evaluate your knowledge or skills in the areas that are most relevant to the position as part of the technical interview. The interviewer is looking for your ability to demonstrate basic technical skills, your thought process on solving the problem, and your effective communication skills. The answer does not need to be correct, but your thought process should be thorough and easy to follow.

In the event you do not know the answer, remain calm and confident. Focus on the steps you would take rather than finding the correct answer. Be straightforward about not knowing instead of talking your way out of it. The interviewer is looking at more than just your technical skills. They are looking for people who innovate, manage stress, and possess self-confidence.

Behavioral Interviewing

This method of interviewing is based on the premise that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior in similar circumstances. The interviewer will ask how you did behave rather than how you would behave. Prepare for these questions by:

  • Recalling recent situations related to your coursework, projects, work experience, and extracurricular activities that demonstrate favorable traits and behaviors (leadership, teamwork, initiative, problem-solving, and communication skills).
  • Maintaining honesty through our practice by not embellishing any part of the story.


The best way to tackle behavioral-based questions is to tell your story through the STAR method.

Situation: State the situation. Talk about a specific event and provide enough detail for the interviewer to understand the circumstances.

Tasks: Explain the tasks involved. What were you trying to accomplish?

Actions: Discuss the actions you took. Even if you’re talking about a group project, keep the focus on what YOU contributed, and use the word “I” rather than “we” in your explanation.

Results: Describe the results. Be sure the outcome reflects positively on you.

Example

Question: Have you ever been a member of a group where one of the members was not contributing? How did you handle this?

S: During my job last summer at a local credit union, I was part of a four-person group responsible for increasing credit union membership.

T: We had a goal of increasing membership by 10% by the end of August, and we decided to create a radio ad promoting the credit union that would air on local stations from July to August. Unfortunately, the one member in the group who had experience with creating ads and was in charge of writing the script for the radio ad wasn’t meeting our project deadlines.

A: I spoke with my group member and found out she was tied up with other high-priority projects, and I offered to assist her with writing the ad.

R: We completed the ad on time, and credit union membership increased by 12%, exceeding our initial goal. I also learned a tremendous amount about writing effective ads.

Questions to Ask

Interviewers expect candidates who are really interested to do their research and ask questions about the company, team, or position. Prioritize your questions to your top 3 to 5 questions as you may not have a lot of time toward the end.

The Job

  • What type of training is given to a new employee – on the job, classroom, and individual?
  • Are employees ever transferred to other geographical locations or other fields?
  • Who will be my manager and how much contact will I have with him/her?
  • Is any travel expected?
  • Why is this position open? (Fired, resigned, new…)
  • How is performance measured and evaluated for this position?
  • What are the best aspects of this job? And the worst?

The Company

  • What positive changes have you seen company-wide and what do you see for the future?
  • What is the company culture?
  • What type of employee fits well with the company?
  • What do you like most about the company and your job?
  • What type of turnover do you see company-wide?

Interview Etiquette

Dressing for the Interview

References

You should plan to have 3 to 4 professional references that can speak to a potential employer about your performance as an employee or student. They can be professors, advisors, previous supervisors, managers, etc. Do not use friends or family members as references. Make sure that you ask the person whether they are willing to be your reference before putting them on your reference list.

Interview Dos and Don’ts

Thank You Notes

This is one of the most important and least used tools in a job search. Thank you letters show your appreciation of the interviewer’s time and your interest in the position. The letters should be:

  • Sent within 24 hours of the interview
  • Through email or handwritten messages on conservative note cards to capture their attention
  • Unique to each interviewer or a single letter to the committee chairperson asking to share with other members
  • Stating your interest in the job, taking next steps, and how your skills match the position