A job interview is the result of a combined professional résumé and a successful job-search plan. While your résumé markets your qualifications on paper, the interview provides an excellent opportunity to market your credentials in person. During the interview, the interviewer evaluates your background, skills and potential for success in a limited period of time in order to determine if you would be a good “fit” for the organization. Since it is a two-way channel, the interview also allows you to find out more about the organization and the job, which will help you decide if you are still interested in applying for the position.
The interview is the most critical step in your job-search process. Your goal in an interview is to market/sell yourself to a prospective employer. It is then your goal to show how your skills, qualifications, and experience match the need of the employer. An interview is not a one-way process, however, it is a two-way channel. On one hand, the employer is trying to figure out whether you fulfill the position and organization requirements and on the other hand, you are trying to determine whether this position and organization suit your career requirements or not.
Interviewing Preparation Tips
You need to spend some time assessing your own strengths and weaknesses. For each area of strength you should be able to demonstrate/give examples on how it was developed and utilized. As for your areas of weakness, you have to know what you are doing to improve in that area. It is advisable to list on a sheet of paper all your skills, abilities, accomplishments and weaknesses; and to prepare examples from your past experience as to how you developed, utilized or improved these qualities. Relating your areas of strength to the required qualifications is a key factor in gaining the interviewer’s attention.
Review details about the type of work/position for which you will be interviewed for. If you are interviewing for a marketing position, be aware of the typical job duties/responsibilities for this position as well as the required qualifications to perform the job tasks. If you are not clear about the nature of the position you will be interviewed for, make sure to use your network of contacts to help you develop a better understanding of the job.
You should find out as much as possible about the employer. Learn about the company from its website, annual reports, brochures, and other sources available at the Career Center Resources Library. You should be able to know the company’s exact name, history, purpose, services/products, major competitors, approximate number of employees, where its branches are located and its future prospects.
Practice allows you to perform at your best during the interview. Practicing responses to specific anticipated questions will make you feel comfortable, at ease and confident. The best option is to practice a mock interview with a career professional at the Career Center. Interviewing video tapes are available in the office's Career Library; they are extremely helpful in helping you visualize the interviewing process.
"References furnished upon request" is a statement many of you write at the end of your résumés. Interviewers could ask you at the interview about your references. In case this should happen, be ready to submit a list of your references and contact information. Choose professors or business people that know you well and would speak favorably on your behalf. Make sure they agree to act as your reference before the interview. Send a copy of your updated résumé along with a cover letter, if any, to your references before you go to the interview.
60% of job applicants are screened out because their appearance does not fit the organizational image. You should dress like other employees in the organization. If you are well-groomed and neatly dressed, your appearance will inspire a basic confidence in your work habits.
Ideally, you have to take to the interview additional copies of your résumé, a list of questions to ask about the organization and position, a portfolio (if applicable), a pen and a pad of paper on which you can record a few notes to yourself. Make sure to note down on a piece of paper the name of the interviewer, company address, and telephone number in case of an emergency that puts you behind schedule.
You need to find out the approximate travel time to the interview location, check out the best route and parking locations. Make sure that you arrive 5-10 minutes before the interview.
There is a two-fold purpose for asking intelligent, meaningful questions during the interview. First, you need to find out additional first-hand information about the organization and the position to which you are applying in order to make a well-informed decision when given a job offer. In addition, the interviewer will be making judgments about your personality, competencies, and interests based in part on the type of questions you ask.
Interview Do's and Don'ts
- Introduce yourself confidently with a smile on your face.
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
- Give nonverbal feedback by nodding or smiling as the interviewer talks.
- Listen carefully to the interviewer's questions. Pause for seconds to think about what you want to say. There is no need to come up with quick responses.
- Tell the truth and give honest answers.
- Support your answers with examples of your accomplishments whenever possible.
- Answer problem questions in a positive way. When asked about your weaknesses, present them positively.
- Use action verbs to describe your skills and experiences. For example say 'I supervised', 'I analyzed', or 'I implemented.'
- Ask relevant questions that will reflect your interest in the organization and the position. Your questions should make the interviewer aware that you have done some research on the company.
- Send a thank-you note after the interview.
- Be gracious and polite in all your dealings with everyone in the company.
- Take other people with you to the interview like a friend or a family member.
- Go late or too early for your appointment.
- Address the interviewer by his/her first name.
- Fiddle with your keys, hair, tie, watch, pen or any other item.
- Keep your hands in your pockets or fold your arms across your chest.
- Eat, drink, smoke or chew gum even if the interviewer does so.
- Criticize your previous or current employer.
- Use phrases such as 'I don't know', 'I don't think so', 'Why do you want to know that', or similar statements.
- Contradict yourself in your answers.
- Answer a question if you don't understand it fully. (Ask for further clarification)
- Indicate that you are desperate to get a job.
- Bring up the issue of salary and benefits. You should negotiate the salary and benefits only when asked by the employer about the salary you expect or when you are given an offer.
- Make a decision to accept the job immediately upon getting an offer.
Virtual or online Interviews have been used for quite some years now for many reasons, one of them is proximity of locations of different parties involved in the interviewing process but as well the rising trend of using virtual interviewing platforms that record interviewer’s answers and provides analytics of test results as well. With the rise of remote work because of the Covid pandemic and safety measures becoming more strict, virtual interviews have become the norm.
During a virtual interview, you can experience any type of interview; it could be a screening interview, a panel interview, a case interviews, a presentation. You could be meeting one interviewer, or multiple interviewers from different locations.
- You need to be familiar with the virtual platforms you will use whether it is Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Skype; familiarize yourself with the platform and download needed apps.
- If you are expected to use a video interview software, such as HireVue, you need to access the platform earlier and practice answering the questions. It is not easy to do one-way interviews and you will need to be comfortable with it and adjust timing of answers.
- Dress up for interviews as if you are going to the company in person. Make sure to have a proper background or use virtual background if it is possible.
- Make sure you are in a quiet environment with no interruption and have a back up network option in case your network connection fails you.
- Have a copy of your resume and other documents that you used in the application handy.
- Try out the device you will connect with whether a laptop or phone and make sure the mic and camera are working well.
Meet a Career Advisor
Our career advisors are available to meet with you individually and assist you. They are certified and trained to listen to your needs, help you increase your self-awareness and job market understanding, and coach you in developing a plan to reach your career goals. However, it is up to you to make career decisions, act on your decisions and make your career plan a reality. Confidentiality of personal information, assessment outcomes, and credentials is guaranteed. You can make use of this service as early as your freshman year and throughout your professional career as an alumnus.
You can schedule an advising appointment on your CareerWEB account | Counseling Appointment tab.
Attend a Workshop
The Career Center offers the following Workshop:
How to Ace Virtual Interview
So you have landed the interview but there is just one catch: It’s virtual. As the processes of hiring change, many employers will choose to keep their interviews virtual. If virtual interviewing is a new concept or the idea seems daunting to you, this workshop is for you. Learn about the different types of virtual interviews, how to effectively prepare for them, impress your future employer and stand out on the screen.
Power Interviewing by Professionals
The interview is a valuable opportunity to market your qualifications to an employer. This workshop will equip you with strategies to ace behavioral interviews and anticipate and interpret difficult questions. You will learn how to effectively prepare for interviews and follow up.
For details about the workshops, refer to CareerWEB | Events Section | Workshops tab.