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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
Dressing for the Interview
Neutral colors such as black, navy, and gray
Dresses/skirts that fall to knee height when standing
Long-sleeve dress shirt with a complimentary tie
Dark, mid-calf socks
Leather dress shoes
Conservative jewelry and make up
Busy, distracting tie
Heavy amounts of cologne or perfume
Dresses/skirts that are short, tight, or billowing
Extremely high heels or strappy sandals
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
Bring multiple resume copies, portfolio, transcripts, list of references, notepad, and pen to the interview
Know the interview time, place, and parking for on-site interviews and arrive 10-15 minutes early
For online interviews, test your webcam, software, or site well in advance
Try to learn the name and title of the interviewer(s) before the interview
Have a firm Career Connect, but not a death grip
Make frequent eye contact with your interviewer
Be alert, act interested, and focus on the positive.
Pause briefly and collect your thoughts before responding to questions; if needed
Show your personality - your interviewer is trying to assess if you’ll be a good fit for the organization!
Ask about next steps in the interview process
Notify employers well in advance if you must postpone or cancel onsite interviews
Notify our office within 24 hours if you cannot make an on-campus interview
Ask about salary and benefits early on in the interview process
Have your cell phone on or answer your phone during the interview
Lie or exaggerate any aspects of your education or experience
Use nervous mannerisms (e.g., finger tapping, cracking your knuckles) or say “um” or “uh” repeatedly
Contradict, interrupt, or argue with your interviewer
Say anything bad about a former employer, co-worker, or professor
Ask questions that you already know or could easily find the answers to
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