by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17
Acing the interview is one of the best ways to land your dream job. Preparation is key, and here’s what you need to do to make sure you’re ready. Check out part II of this series as well.
Preparing for an Interview
The interview, whether in person, online, or over the phone, is the context where you communicate your full spectrum of skills as a candidate to an employer. Interviews give you the chance to describe how your talents and personality fit the needs of the position. Hiring managers and selection committees rely heavily on interview outcomes when deciding whether or not to extend an offer.
The keys to a successful interview are preparation, practice and presentation.
- Preparation: Research your employer thoroughly, refine your resume, select appropriate attire, create a list of questions to ask the employer, and get a good night’s sleep (It’s more important than you might think). Also be sure to familiarize yourself with the interview’s location.
- Practice: Set up a “mock interview” with Career Collaborative, a friend, family member, or colleague, and browse our selection of interview questions. Rehearsing your responses is a great way to boost your confidence and craft how you communicate your talents and personality.
- Presentation: When answering questions, remember the “3 P’s”
- Ponder: take a moment to reflect on why the employer has asked a question. This will help with framing your response and speak to the skill set, value, or ability being measured.
- Prove: if you say that you have developed excellent organizational skills give specific examples of situations where you demonstrated a high level of organization.
- Project: always be genuine and confident in responding to questions, asking questions, and meeting new people during the interview.
Common Interview Questions
- Please tell me about yourself.
- What makes you interested in this position?
- What do you know about our organization?
- What do you consider your greatest strengths?
- What would former coworkers/professors/supervisors say about you if we called them as a reference?
- Why did you choose this field?
- How did your college experience prepare you for a career in this field?
- Describe the work environment that makes you thrive.
- If you have ever dealt with difficult people, how did you manage conflict?
- What are your proven coping mechanisms in challenging times?
- If creative, where you do get your inspiration?
- Convince me you are the perfect match for our opening.
- What sort of pay do you expect to receive?
- How does your previous experience relate to the job we have open?
- How did you get along with your last boss?
- What is the hardest job you’ve ever held?
- Do you have any questions for us?
Things to Consider in an Interview
- An interview is a conversation about what you can do for them; research the company and tailor your responses towards substantiating how your talents and personality match the position.
- Rehearse interview questions out loud with a friend, family member, or your career coach.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes early, but enter the premises 8-10 minutes early.
- Bring copies of your resume and reference sheet with you to offer.
- Use professional language and avoid slang words such as “uh,” “um,” “you know,” and “like.”
- Body language should be professional: good posture, not slouched, good eye contact but not staring. Watch the nervous habits of twirling hair, tapping a foot, or drumming fingers.
- Smile. It’ll help you —and them— relax!
- Be prepared to offer evidence through detailed examples of times and ways and situations you used certain technical applications, characteristics, or skills.
- Collect their business cards so you can follow up with a thank you card or e-mail.
- After the interview, take notes on everything you can remember and use the experience to further develop your interview techniques.