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- An opportunity for you to present your background and skills to an interviewer whose goal is to evaluate your skills and qualifications for the position and "fit" (shared values and common vision) with their organization.
- An opportunity for you to evaluate a potential supervisor and work environment.
How to Ace Your Interview
- Research the Position and Organization: Attempt to find out as much as possible about the position that is available. Request that a job description be sent to you. Talk with your contacts in the organization. Access the organization's home page via the web and Google them.
- Research Yourself: Based on what you know about the opening and the organization, list the traits and skills that are needed for the job. Now, in terms of the qualifications necessary for the job, consider your experiences, skills and strengths. Identify examples of activities or work experience where you exhibit the necessary qualifications.
- Practice Answering Questions: Anticipate the possible questions that you may be asked during the interview and formulate your answers.
- Prepare Questions to Ask the Employer: Be sure to come with questions to ask during the interview.
- Bring Extra Copies of Your Resume with You
- Dress Professionally [Link to Dress for Success Page]
- Plan to Arrive at Least 15 Minutes Early: Carry the interviewer's phone number in case you get unavoidably delayed so that you may call him/her. Remember to turn-off your cell phone prior to the interview.
- Relax Before Going into the Interview: Take deep breaths and focus on your skills and strengths.
- Be Mindful of Your Body Language: Shake hands firmly when introduced and maintain eye contact. Project enthusiasm, flexibility, ease of communication, a sense of humor when appropriate, and willingness for hard work.
- Listen Carefully to Each Question: When answering questions, pause in order to give you time to compose an answer that is concise but thoughtful. Politely ask clarification for questions which seem unclear or you don't understand.
- Answer Questions in Terms of Your Skills and Accomplishments: Focus your responses on previous experiences that relate to the employers' needs. Avoid general statements.
- Speak in Positive Terms: Never say negative comments about former employers or co-workers.
- Avoid Questions About Salary and Benefits: These questions are better left for after you have been offered the position. Be sure to conduct research regarding current salary range.
- Ask for a Timeline Regarding the Hiring Process: If you have not received a response by the scheduled decision date, you may call to check -in.
- Close the Interview with a Summary Statement: This statement allows you the opportunity to reiterate the skills you have to offer and to reaffirm your interest in the position. Ask the person that interviewed you for a business card. This ensures that you will have correct information regarding the interviewer's name, title, company name, and address for your thank you note.
After (Adapted from New York State Department of Labor's, Your Winning Edge)
- Follow-up the interview with a thank you letter [Link to Thank You Note Page]: This is an opportunity to restate your interest and qualifications. Use the letter to reemphasize your potential value to the organization, correct any misunderstandings, and add forgotten points. Do not forget to reiterate that you are still interested in the position and the organization. Strive to send the letter within 24 hours of your interview.
- Continue to Pursue the Position:
- Remain in contact with the organization as long as the interviewer says the position is open.
- Ask for Feedback: If you do not get this position ask the interviewer for recommendations and feedback for future interviews.
Preparing to Answer Interview Questions
Often, employers will ask skill-based questions that encourage you to give brief examples of times when you have used a particular skill. To effectively answer these questions, you will need to give specific examples from school, field placements, volunteerism, activities or work. An effective technique to answer interview questions is known as the "S.T.A.R." technique:
Situation - a brief set up of the situation you are going to tell about
Task - an explanation of the task you had to complete, or problem you had to resolve
Action(s) - explain the specific/detailed actions you took focusing on the skills you used in this situation (This is where most of your answer should be spent!)
Result - explain the positive outcome from the example you shared. How did things turn out?
For example: What is your approach to dealing with students?
- Last year, I was a teaching assistant for a writing course, in which I was responsible for tutoring writing sections and grading. Near the end of the term, I was approached by a student who was unhappy with her grade.
- I needed to listen to this student carefully and assess whether she had a valid complaint.
- I asked the student to bring a copy of her paper to me so that we could discuss the situation. When we met, I first discussed with the student the criteria I used for grading, why points were subtracted, and the basic requirements for an A paper. Then we looked at her paper and how I had graded it. I identified ways in which her paper failed to meet the criteria for an A paper and suggested ways to improve her organization and writing.
- While the student was still unhappy with her grade, she was satisfied that she had been graded fairly. She no longer contested the grade, and I felt that I had dealt with the student both fairly and respectfully.
Prior to your interview, think of at least 10 examples that demonstrate your skills.
See the Online Resources page for Interviewing Guides by Profession
When You Interview You Should...
- Demonstrate confidence, poise, tact, openness, motivation, flexibility, innovation, humor, desire to grow, effective communication skills, and problem solving skills.
- Use a firm handshake when introduced and maintain eye contact.
- Know the points you want to make.
- Project leadership abilities and personal accomplishments by stating examples.
- Make your responses brief and related to both the question and desired position.
- Relax and be genuine, honest, confident and poised.
- Convey interest and knowledge in the position and the organization.
- Ask meaningful questions.
- Be courteous and appreciative of the interviewer's time.
- Follow-up with a thank you note.
When You Interview You Should NOT...
- Cancel an interview appointment unless absolutely necessary.
- Ramble, be phony, exaggerate experiences or abilities, or lie.
- Show inability to take criticism.
- Harbor unrealistic expectations of position regarding salary, responsibility, or perks.
- Try to create answers you think the interviewer wants to hear.
- Use non-words: um.uh..ah..well.
- Interrupt the interviewer or rush your answers.