Interviewing Tips

TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL JOB SEARCH AND INTERVIEWING

Do:

  • Dress appropriate!!!  Whether you are seeking part-time, internship or full-time employment, it is important that you dress appropriately. 
    • Part-time/full-time non-degreed: Business casual is recommended to include a dress shirt or polo type with slacks.  Don’t wear jeans, shorts, sandals/ flip-flops, etc…
    • Full-time employment, degreed: Professional dress is required that includes a suit for men and women.
  • Practice interviewing and use the resources at your school’s career placement center as soon as possible.
  • Be flexible when considering job opportunities: your skills might be used in unexpected places.
  • Gain experience through internships, volunteering, and related activities.
  • Work on your Communication, both verbally and nonverbally.

                    For example:

      • Introduce yourself
      • Make eye contact with interviewers
      • Firm handshake
      • Show motivation
      • Show enthusiasm
      • Be on time for the interview
      • Dress professionally
      • Show as much confidence as possible, but even some nervousness indicates you’re taking the interview seriously
  • Bring copies of your resume and transcripts.
  • Ask questions about the company’s hiring process, direction, or possible career paths. This shows you’ve taken the time to research the company.  Interviewers like to see interest and passion for their   company.
  • Incorporate information that you learn in the interview into your questions.
  • Take notes.
  • Think about the question before answering; it is acceptable to take a moment to gather your thoughts.
  • Focus on the question and make sure you’ve answered what is asked.
  • Use the CAR mode when answering a question: what were the Circumstances, your Actions, and the Results? Be specific, but concise.
  • Use positive examples when answering a question instead of negative examples.
  • Follow-up with your interviewer regarding feedback.
  • Send a thank-you note within 24 hrs. of the interview.  E-mail is also acceptable.

Don’t:

  • Dress inappropriate during the application or interview process. First Impressions are very important!
  • Wait until you’re ready to graduate to start the job search process.
  • Be nervous; think of the interview as an opportunity to gather information.
  • Try to make yourself look good by making other people look bad.
  • Use the same examples for every question you’re asked.
  • Ramble when answering a question.
  • Pass on answering a question.
  • Focus only on the financial aspects of the job; look at the big career picture.

WHAT DO EMPLOYERS LOOK FOR?

When you’re researching a company, it’s helpful to look at the corporate culture and see if your values and those of the company are compatible.  According the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the following are the 10 personal qualities employers seek in job candidates:

  • COMMUNICATION SKILLS
  • MOTIVATION/ INITIATIVE
  • TEAMWORK SKILLS
  • LEADERSHIP SKILLS
  • ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT/ GPA
  • INTERPERSONAL SKILLS
  • FLEXIBILITY/ ADAPTABILITY
  • TECHNICAL SKILLS
  • HONESTY/ INTEGRITY
  • ANALYTICAL/ PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS & WORK ETHIC

SUBJECTS TO AVOID BRINGING UP IN AN INTERVIEW:

  • Salary – at least during the first interview                
  • Problems with a former employer(s)
  • Psychological problems                                        
  • Financial problems
  • Medical problems – yours or family                        
  • Drinking problems
  • Divorce(s) domestic problems                              
  • Former bankruptcy
  • Smoking problems                                              
  • Racial or religious matters
  • Politics                                                            
  • Age
  • Handicaps                                                        
  • Automobile accidents/ traffic violations
  • Human rights issues                                            
  • Lawsuit

*Visit Career Center to obtain information on handling illegal questions

SAMPLE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK RECRUITER/ INTERVIEWER:

  1. What qualities are you looking for in new hires?
  2. Could you describe a typical day on the job?  First assignment?
  3. What are the typical career paths for this position and what is the pace of advancement?
  4. If I come to this company, how will I be evaluated and promoted?
  5. What are the most challenging parts of this position?
  6. How is the work environment?
  7. What type of training is provided to new hires? Is a mentor assigned after the training?
  8. What are the company’s plans for growth?
  9. What makes this company different from the competitors?
  10. What industry – wide trends are likely to affect this company?
  11. Why did you join and stay with this company?
  12. How would you describe your company’s personality and management style?
  13. What are your challenges and opportunities with this company?
  14. What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses?
  15. What is the overall structure of the department where this position is located?

INTERVIEWING TYPES AND TIPS:

Screening Interview: Screening interviews may be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video to help employers determine if you meet the minimum qualifications for a job.

Tip: Emphasize succinctly and directly that you possess the desired skills/abilities for the position.  For phone interviews, keep your portfolio close at had for easy access and reference.  For video interviews, rehearse in advance with a career counselor to come across naturally.

One-on-One Interview:  This is the most common interview format and is usually conducted on site by the hiring supervisor.  The interviewer focuses on questions to assess your skills, knowledge, and abilities as they relate to the job.

Tip: In addition to selling your key strengths, ask what problems the supervisor currently is facing and then suggest strategies that he or she could implement to resolve the issues.  Please not that Behavioral Interviewing is one of the fastest growing interviewing methods used which is based on the premise that an applicant’s past behavior will predict how he or she will respond to similar situations in the future. The focus is to determine how the applicant has applied their skills.

Panel Interview:  This group is usually conducted by three or more people representing different departments within the company, and they generally ask you questions that correspond to their areas of interest/expertise.

Tip:  Remember to direct your answers to the person who asks the questions, but maintain eye contact with other members of the group as well.  Following the interview, be sure to send a thank-you note to each of the participants

Peer Group Interview:  This type of group interview will introduce you to your potential co-workers.  Thy will probably not have the ultimate authority as to whether or not to hire you.  Rather, they will be evaluating you and making recommendations as to whether or not you will “fit in.”

Tip:  Focus on being agreeable and approachable rather than someone with all the answers.

Luncheon Interview:  The lunch interview is to access how well you can handle yourself in social situations.  You will probably be dining with your potential boss and co-workers, as well as HR professionals.

Tip:  Make your meal selection carefully.  Select light, healthy, and easy things to eat.  Steer clear spaghetti in sauce and other potentially messy foods that are not easy to eat gracefully.  Do not order alcohol even if others do.

Second Interview:  Second interviews are similar to first interviews except they are usually longer (1-2 days), involve more people, and are often held at company headquarters.  You may have a combination of individual, panel, and peer group interviews throughout the process.  The focus of the second interview is to ensure you have the necessary skills and that you will blend well with the organization’s culture.

Tip:  Switch your focus from emphasizing your specific strengths to selling yourself as a well-balanced package.  Listen carefully to the interviewers to determine any underlying concerns and attempt to dispel them.  Prove that you’ve researched the company and emphasize tat you will work as a dedicated member of the organization.