Interviews

You submitted your application and you passed the telephone screen and got a face-to-face job interview. Now what? The purpose of a job interview is for you and the employer to learn about one another and explore the possibility of working together. The employer will be looking to see if you fit the culture of the organization (can you work with team members and do you have the motivation) and assess if you have the basic skills (technical and soft) to do the job.

Prepare

Before you arrive at your interview, do your homework.   Know where you are going (and where to park) and confirm the names and titles of everyone that you will be meeting. Research the company via the organization’s website and review their social media platforms. Do an Internet search and review their profile on Glassdoor. As you research, be sure to learn about the following:

  • Mission and vision statement
  • Products and/or services
  • Year of establishment
  • Principal locations
  • Types of customers and key competitors
  • Number of employees
  • Sales and profit trends
  • Key leadership
  • Civic involvement

When you can incorporate your knowledge about the organization in the conversation, you will demonstrate your interest in working there.

Assemble a professional outfit including professional accessories such as a briefcase or padfolio (to hold items such as additional copies of your résumé and examples of past work). While the dress code may be business casual, you will want to dress to impress. View this infographic to see how to dress for success »

Practice

You can never be sure what you will be asked during an interview, but certain questions are likely to arise. Review the job description to expect questions about how you are qualified to do the job.  Jot down thoughts and practice saying them out loud.  When preparing responses, make sure that they are clear and avoid vague answers by giving examples.

Common Interview Questions
  • Tell me about yourself. The interviewer does not want to know your life story but is interested in the information about you that relates to the position such as education and experiences.
  • Why should I hire you? Stress what you have to offer the employer, not how nice it would be to work there.
  • What are your career goals and objectives? The interviewer is looking for evidence of career goals and ambitions.
  • What do you know about our organization? Research the organization to show you are serious about the position.
Behavioral-based Interview Questions

Behavioral-based interview questions are becoming more and more popular among employers.  These are questions that ask you to talk about your past behavior in a particular type of situation. In theory, your past behavior is a good indicator of how you will behave in the future.  So when an employer asks these types of questions they are trying to get a feel for what you might do in a similar situation if presented to you at work.  You must be able to describe in detail of how you demonstrated a specific skill or behavior.

Behavioral based interview questions typically start with “Tell me about a time when you…” or “Give me an example of a time when you…”  Use the STAR method to make sure you are covering the important information the employer wants to hear.

Here is an example:

Question:  Tell me about a time when you were on a team.

Situation (S), give a brief overview of the situation.
“In my business management class, I was assigned to work with four of my classmates on a project that was worth half of our grade.”

Task (T), explain the task at hand.
“We needed to work together to come up with an original product and a marketing plan for the product.”

Action (A), explain what YOU did.
“My role in the group was the organizer and task master.  I came up with a schedule of our meetings and made sure that we were on task and productive.”

Results (R), explain the positive results or outcomes as a result of your actions.
“As a result of my planning and diligence, we were actually done with the project a week ahead of schedule and received positive feedback.”

Questions You Can Ask

You will have the opportunity to ask questions during the interview.   Try to avoid asking about salary and benefits in the initial interview.  Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Why is this position open?
  • What would my responsibilities be?
  • How will my work be evaluated?
  • What type of training will I receive?
  • With whom will I be working? (Make sure you get a chance to meet your supervisor)
  • Are there opportunities for advancement?
  • What do you enjoy about working here?
  • Where do you see the company in five years?

What are you worth? Occasionally, an employer may ask you to give a salary preference before an offer is made.  It is okay to tell an employer that salary is negotiable or you may suggest a range to the employer.  It is recommended that you do your research first using resources like salary.com or glassdoor.com so you are prepared.  Many entry-level positions have a fixed salary or range.

After the Interview

Reflect and evaluate how you think the interview went. Did you respond to questions confidently? Always write a thank you note to every person who interviewed you within 24 hours after the interview (email or short handwritten note is fine).