Different employers interview in different ways. You may interview face-to-face with one person or several people, over the phone or via a webcam. A first interview with a human resource representative is often used to pre-screen candidates. A second interview often takes place with a hiring manager and may include the same questions asked during pre-screening or more in-depth questions to define your fit for the position. You may also be asked to participate in a simulation or case study that allows you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills, or to make a presentation about yourself or a topic relevant to the job.
Before the interview
- Research the employer to better understand the culture and how you might fit in.
- Review the job requirements for clues about the questions you might be asked. Be prepared to demonstrate examples of your strengths, weaknesses, skills, and personal qualities as they relate to the position.
Learn to answer behavioral questions
Past performance predicts future performance. Behavioral questions probe for specific examples (stories) about your experiences. They often start with “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of when you…” Formula to answer: STAR
Situation / Task (Describe the situation and the task you were working with.)
Action (Describe what you did. What steps or actions did you take?)
Result (Describe the result. How did it turn out? What did you learn?)
Analyze the job description to determine key skills and personality attributes that the job will require. Using the STAR model, prepare “stories” describing personal experiences where you demonstrated similar skills or attributes. The employer is listening for what you accomplished and the process you used to do it.
Example: Tell me about a time when you took on a task that was not assigned to you.
Situation / Task: Last month I noticed that the employee bulletin board where I work had outdated notices posted. Employees had stopped reading it and began missing important announcements.
Action: I worked with two of my coworkers and we set up a calendar and recruited everyone in the office to sign up for a month to keep the board cleared of old announcements and posted with current event and benefit information. We then sent an email to all employees letting them know what kinds of updated information they could find there.
Result: Because of the up-to-date information, communication within the office improved and we saw an increase in productivity.
- Prepare your professional interview attire, copies of your resume, and references.
- Obtain details about the interview including location, directions, parking and the names/job titles of interviewers.
During the interview
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early
- Turn off your cell phone or leave it in the car
- If needed, use mints – not chewing gum
- Be courteous and friendly to everyone you meet
- Shake hands firmly
- Maintain eye contact
- Wait for invitation to be seated
- Listen actively
- Speak in a clear, moderate voice
- Do not criticize past employers or coworkers (always be positive)
- Demonstrate enthusiasm and interest
- Ask for business cards
After the interview
- Make some notes to yourself immediately after the interview about each interviewer’s comments. This will help you write thank you notes and reflect on your impression of the organization.
- Write down the interview questions that were difficult for you to answer. Try to determine why the employer was asking the question and what attributes or experience they were looking for.
- Send thank you notes to all interviewers within 24 hours, expressing appreciation and enthusiasm, reemphasizing your fit for the position, and commenting on something you learned about the organization.
- If you accept another offer, call other employers where you interviewed.