Interviews


You can meet one-on-one with a trained professional in our office or you can participate in "mock" (practice) interviews.

How do I Prepare for an interview?

(Powerpoint presentation)

Research the Employer

The first step to preparing for a job interview is to research the employer and learn as much as you can about their organization. You need to be prepared to answer the questions "What do your know about our company"? and "Why do you want to work for us?"

  • Start by going to the company's website and reading about their products, services, stock performance, company history, organization, successes, current news, and future direction.
  • Research current articles that may have been written about the organization.
  • Talk to faculty who may have knowledge about the company.
  • Become familiar with the products that the company makes.
  • Check with the CDC for pamphlets, brochures, or CD's. Many of the companies that attend our career fairs and on-campus interviews will provide the CDC with company information.

Know your Strengths

The second step in preparing for a job interview is to know yourself.

  • Know your strengths, skills, abilities, and accomplishments that relate to that job.
  • Sit down and make a list of 3-5 of your strengths and skills and examples of exhibiting those skills.
  • Also identify and write down specific examples of situations from your past work experience, classroom and academic accomplishments, student activities and leadership that demonstrate your strengths and skills. Examples of teamwork, problem-solving, customer service, planning, taking initiative, communication, managing multiple projects with deadlines, leadership in a group, and ability to work well with diverse personalities and backgrounds are of special interest to employers.
  • Know what is on your resume and have it memorized, be ready to discuss it in detail.
  • Identify your short and long range goals along with your reasons for wanting the position.

What should I expect in an Interview?

The typical interview will have three stages: the introductory, middle, and closing phases.

  • Stage 1: Opening moves and Introductory Phase

This phase of the interview covers the greeting and small talk and usually a beginning question such as "tell me about yourself." You want to make a good first impression, so be prepared with a 30 second scripted answer to this question highlighting your qualifications and desire for this position.

  • Stage 2: Middle Phase

During this phase of the interview, you will be asked many questions about your experience, skills, education, activities, and interests. The interviewer may use a variety of questions including traditional, behavioral, technical, case scenario, and stress.

Traditional Interviews and Questions

In a traditional interview, you will be asked a series of questions which typically have straightforward answers like "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" Other examples of traditional questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you apply for this job?
  • What jobs have you enjoyed the most? The least? Why?
  • What are your short-range and long-range goals?

Be prepared for some off-the-wall questions such as:

  • What is the last book you read?
  • If you were a fruit, which one would you be and why?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?

Behavioral Interviews and Questions

(View Presentation)

Employers use behavior-based interview questions to look at past performance in order to predict future success. You know that you're in a behavior-based interview when most of the questions begin with statements like, "Tell me about a time when..." and "Describe a situation where...." Many employers will evaluate your answers using the STAR method:

  • S/T = Situation or Task
  • A = Action
  • R = Results

When answering behavioral interview questions, describe the situation or task, discuss the action steps you took, and tell the results. To prepare for behavioral interview questions:

  • Recall situations that show favorable behaviors or actions and prepare short descriptions of each situation.
  • Be sure each story has a beginning, a middle, and an end; i.e., be ready to describe the situation, your action and the outcome or result.
  • Try to highlight experiences that will reflect positively on you. Or, if the outcome was not positive and was a "learning experience" for you, tell what you learned from the situation and how you made needed changes since that time.
  • Be specific. Don't generalize about several events; give a detailed accounting of a particular situation.

Examples of behavioral interview questions are:

  • Describe a time that you were challenged or put under pressure.
  • Tell me about a time when you took it upon yourself to accomplish a task on the job, without being asked.
  • How would you handle it if a coworker (or subordinate) was not pulling his or her fair share of the load?
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Stage 3: Closing Phase

During the closing phase of an interview, you will be asked whether you have any other questions. Ask questions of the interviewer that have not yet been answered. Highlight any of your strengths that have not already been discussed. Ask about the remaining steps in the selection process and when you may call to learn about the hiring decision. Thank the interviewer by name and say good-bye.

  • Stage 4: After the interview

What are some interview tips that I can use to best present myself in an Interview?

  • Plan to arrive early for the interview, don't be late
  • Be dressed for success and do a last minute check on your grooming
  • Smile and be friendly from the moment that you walk in the front door, with receptionists and everyone else you encounter
  • Greet the employer with a firm handshake
  • Maintain good eye contact and good body language during the interview
  • Wait to be seated until you are asked
  • Take some time to craft your answers before responding to the interview questions
  • Be positive about yourself, the position, and your previous employers
  • Relax and be yourself
  • Always have questions to ask of the interviewer(s)
  • Avoid discussing salary or time off in an initial interview
  • Ask when you may call to learn about the hiring decision.
  • Send a thank you note or e-mail after the interview

Know what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Determine what are the technical needs for the job and also the desired transferable skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, ability to handle multiple projects and deadlines, ability to work with a diverse group of individuals, etc.