Before the interview
Interview Preparation - Research the employer and Practice, Practice, Practice Put your best foot forward! During an interview you must be able to sell your skills and abilities to a potential employer. The interview is a twoway process. Employers assess you as a complete person and gauge whether or not you will be a good fit for their organization. In turn, you have an opportunity to witness firsthand the culture of the organization and assess if the company is a good fit for you.
How well you have researched the company is a critical factor employers use in evaluating applicants as it demonstrates interest and enthusiasm. Research enables you to determine position fit more accurately.
- The company - History, mission statement, potential growth, restructuring, annual sales, organizational structure, ownership, location(s), funding, etc.
- The “fit" - Corporate culture and management style, benefits, stakeholder opinions, opportunity for growth
- The industry - Trends, challenges, and opportunities
- Your needs and goals
How to Research
- Visit company/organization web sites
- Use search engines: Google Alerts, Google, Yahoo
- Search contacts and employers in Titan Jobs
- Tap your network: Professors and LinkedIn
- Follow organization pages on LinkedIn and Facebook
- Identify key stakeholders: talk to employees, customers, clients and suppliers
- Conduct informational interviews (see pages 89) with individuals in the filed/industry
- Review your resume and the job posting/position description
- Prepare your elevator pitch (see page 54)
- Know your skills, qualities, strengths and stories
- Use the SCROL technique (see page 17) to develop stories/situations where you have excelled in class, at an internship or previous employment experience or with a student organization
- Create a list of five key qualities/strengths/ traits that qualify you for the position
- List your points of pride and strengths
- Prepare questions for employer based on your further interest in the organization or position
- Believe in yourself
What to Wear: Dress for Success
Researching the organization may yield some insight into industry interview standards. Regardless, always be sure to look neat, clean, well-groomed and dressed for success. When in doubt, be conservative. You do not want to wear anything that is going to distract the employer from your words.
Develop and practice complete, well-rounded answers to potential interview questions.
- Verbalize and record your answers; practice with a friend
- Use a virtual mock interview tool: Available in your Titan Jobs account under Additional Resources
- Attend a Mock Interview event through Career Services, or make an appointment with your career advisor
- Use the interview worksheet to guide you in developing responses to interview questions
During the Interview
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early
- Establish the relationship with a firm handshake and eye contact
- Show enthusiasm, confidence, courtesy and honesty
- Keep a positive attitude about former employers, supervisor(s) and coworkers; be tactful and do not criticize former employers, even if discussing an unpleasant situation
- Use the SCROL technique to answer questions completely
- Be aware of body language (e.g. posture, eye contact, enthusiasm, fidgeting, nervous habits)
- Avoid slang, profanity, lying, babbling and filler words such as um, ah, like and you know
- Do not inquire about salary, bonuses or benefits before you receive an offer
- Ask questions to show your interest in the organization and the position
- Ask the interviewer when you can expect to hear about a decision or inquire about the interview timeline
- Restate your interest in the position and make sure to thank all interviewers before exiting
- Ask for a business card from each interviewer or ensure that you have their name, title and address to send a thank you note
Designed to learn about aspects of your personality, work ethic, history and attitude
- What are your strengths and challenges?
- What do you know about our company?
- What are your short-term and long-term career goals? How do you plan to achieve them?
- Tell me about yourself.
Designed to learn how a candidate can think on their feet and process information quickly
- What strategies might you pursue with a colleague when you have been unable to build a successful working relationship?
- How do you prioritize your work if you lack sufficient information (your coworkers or supervisor are unavailable)?
- What would you do if you disagree with the way your supervisor advises you to address a problem?
Questions to Ask the Employer
Convey your enthusiasm, interest in the position and the company; these questions should go beyond what you can research easily
- Describe the most successful employees in your organization.
- What impact did a recent change in a service, product, law or marketing campaign have on your business?
- How does your company encourage its new hires to keep pace with new technologies?
- Always research additional industry specific questions online.
Behavioral Questions and Statements
Designed to examine your past response to a specific situation as an indicator of how you may behave in the future (Remember to give complete story-based answers using the SCROL technique.)
- Describe a situation where you gained the support of team members to achieve a goal.
- Tell me about a time when you solved a problem in collaboration with a person who had a cultural perspective different from your own.
- Outline a success that was a result of your good judgment.
- Share an example of when you exceeded the expectations of a professor or supervisor.
A Sample Behavioral Based Answer (using the SCROL technique):
Question: Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership.
Strength(s): Leadership and innovation
Supervised 20 student employees at Titan Central
In my role, one task was to communicate important information to student employees about about Titan Central functions
Noticed the weekly newsletter I created was ineffective; student employees were not reading it
Polled student employees to determine more effective way of communicating with them
Implemented more simplistic communication system; posted only important daily notes by sign-in station
Developed a more effective way to communicate information to student employees
Titan Central experienced less communication issues and more consistent communication
What I think is a good idea (weekly newsletter) may not be effective in meeting others’ needs
Company Research Worksheet - this resource will help you conduct appropriate research to adequately prepare you to impress your interviewer.
Check out the Interview Prep Worksheet for a great resource to help you get organized prior to the interview.
Take a look a the Post Interview Assessment Worksheet to do some initial reflection following an interview. This worksheet is helpful especially if you are conducting multiple interviews and will help you keep your thoughts regarding each interview organized.
Sending Thank You Notes:
Mail vs e-mail?: Any thank you note is better than none. Following-up with an e-mail is the most efficient strategy. However traditional mail is the safest, most accepted way to thank an employer.
Send an e-mail thank you note within 24 hours or a hand written note within two business days.
Another strategy is to thank an employer via LinkedIn! Try sending a thank you and requesting a connection as an interview follow-up.