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The interview is one of the most important steps in the job search process. It is your chance to elaborate on how your education, skills, and experience fit what the employer is seeking in a candidate and ultimately earn the job offer.

The keys to interviewing success are knowing yourself, researching the employer, and preparing for and following-up after the interview.

Preparing for the Interview

The more prepared you are for an interview the more relaxed you will be during the interview. Take time beforehand to research the organization and reflect on your own experience.

  • Think about how to discuss your skills, interests, and experiences. Prepare examples of how you demonstrated your skills, found your interests, or learned from your experiences.

    • Remember to tailor your answers to the specific position and organization.

  • Research the organization you are interviewing with. Focus on details like their mission, services, products, and new initiatives that may be current.

    • As you research the employer, note similarities between the organization and your background of education and experience. Prepare to share examples of your strengths and skills in action.

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Types of Interview Questions

There are three basic types of interview questions. Interviews often consist of a combination of types of questions so review each form and practice each type in advance.

Traditional

Designed to help employers get a feel for who you are and what makes you unique. Employers will listen to your responses for statements that reflect their goals, values, and needs as related to the position you are seeking.

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • Why are you interested in our organization?

  • What interests you about this job?

  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?

  • What are your long-term goals?

  • Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Behavioral

Designed to discover how you have handled situations in the past. The best way to respond to behavioral questions is to use the STARR method.

  • S: Describe the SITUATION

  • T: What TASKS did you identify that needed to be completed?

  • A: What ACTION did you take?

  • R: What was the RESULT of the action?

  • RREFLECT. What did you learn?

Behavioral questions require more preparation. Make sure to reflect on experiences from part-time jobs, class projects, student organizations, and volunteer experiences.

  • Give me an example of a time at work when you had to deal with unreasonable expectations.

  • Tell me about a time when an unexpected event interrupted your work plans. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?

  • Tell me about a time when you successfully prioritized your goals and objectives.

  • Tell me about a time when you felt it necessary to compromise your own needs to help others.

Case

Designed to test your ability to think analytically under stress with incomplete information.

  • Listen carefully to the material being presented. Take notes if you'd like and be sure to ask questions if you need additional details.

  • Take your time. If you need a minute to collect your thoughts, say so.

  • Offer a general statement or framework at the beginning to serve as an outline.

  • Focus on key, broad issues first.

  • Orient your answer towards action. Suggest specific steps that can be taken rather than just theory.

  • Be conscious of resources. If it relates to the problem, ask the interviewer about the budget, capital, and other resources that the client can allocate to the situation.

Make a Great Impression

Start the interview off the right way and make sure to think about first impressions. The smallest detail showcasing your professionalism could be helping in making you stand out from the candidate pool.

  • Be on time. Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early to catch your breath and allow time to find where you need to be. If traveling to a site location spend the night before mapping out distance and account for traffic.

  • Silence your cell phone and any other electronic alerts prior to the start of the interview

  • Offer a handshake and maintain eye contact. Be enthusiastic about the opportunity.

  • Use a professional portfolio to carry your documents. Bring extra copies of your resume, samples of relevant work, references, and a pen. Take notes for questions or a follow-up email thanking the recruiter for their time.

 

Dress for Success

Nothing says that you're ready for a new position like a great professional look. Consider the company culture and position you are applying for when making professional dress decisions.

Need inspiration? Check out the Career Services Pinterest page for outfit ideas and tips.

Business Professional

Wear a pant or skirt suit with a dress shirt or blouse. Coordinate your tie and shoes with the outfit and make sure to pair with dress socks or stockings.

Business Casual

Usually dress pants or a skirt with a collared shirt. Khakis or neutral colored pants with a polo, sweater, or blouse always look great. Shoes can be more casual.

Everyone

Make sure to iron your outfit when needed. Keep strong scents to a minimum and make sure to rock a smile and a confident handshake.

Your outfit can be a great way to express yourself and your culture. When in doubt, be a tad more conservative but never shy away from the chance to show who you are.

Ask Questions

Show that you are engaged and an active listener by asking your interviewer questions. This is your chance to get a feel for company culture, advancement and professional development opportunities, and company growth. Asking questions is an important step within an interview to demonstrate interest and curiosity, and most importantly, to show that you care enough about the opportunity to ask for further information.

  • What are the most challenging aspects of the job?

  • What are some of the most immediate priorities or projects for the person entering this role?

  • Why do you enjoy working for this organization?

  • What are the biggest challenges facing the organization or department?

  • What are the goals of the department? Of the company?

  • What is the management style of the organization?

After the Interview

Never forget to follow-up and follow through after an interview. Taking the time to contact a recruiter with a thank-you note and any requested documents shows initiative and reliability.

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