How to have a great job interview!
To schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor for a mock interview, please call 303-458-3508
Part 1 : Being Prepared
1. Start preparing as early as possible! Larger corporations will generally contact you to schedule an interview about a month before the interview occurs. You should spend this whole month prepping so that you’re comfortable and knowledgeable going into the interview.
- Do your research. Research the company and specifically the business unit or department. Get as much background information as you can get so that you don’t get caught speechless if you’re asked to talk a little bit about it.
- Also use internet search engines to research the people who are interviewing you (or who you think may be interviewing you). If you’re having trouble finding things, try Linkedin. It is a career networking site that can help you build professional connections.
2. Get help from others! You don’t have to prepare for a job interview by yourself. There are some valuable resources that can help you along your way. Here are some ways that you can ask for help:
- Seek out experts. Find yourself a mentor and/or an alumni from your university currently working in your desired career. Talk to them and get an inside scoop. Ask for advice. Career Services is great resource you can use to connect with such people.
- Prepare with a peer. Find a friend who is also preparing for a job interview. Interview each other so that you get comfortable with the verbal and social aspects of the interview. You can also tell your peer different anecdotal stories that you’re considering for the interview. Ask him or her what each story portrays about you, and use their feedback to choose the one that best represents the parts of you that you want to show to the interviewer.
3. Prepare to ask at least three questions! These should not be things that can be easily discovered through simple research. Think about what you want to know about the specific company, and how working there will be different from working with another corporation. Remember that the interview goes both ways, and that you have to show that you’re interested in the company if you want them to think you really care. Make a list of at least three questions that you want to ask, which can include the following points:
- Ask about room for growth in the company. Sure, you’re applying for a specific position, but you can show that you plan to stick around for the long haul.
- Ask about who you’ll be working with most closely. This will show that you have interest in the people you’ll be interacting with in the company — and can help you see if the job’s not a good fit if it turns out you’ll be spending your time working with one of the snarky interviewers you don’t like.
- Ask for more information about one of the tasks that are part of the job description. Show that you’ve read the job description closely and are thinking about what your daily life at the company would look like.
4. Prepare to answer the basic questions that you will be asked! Though an interview always has the potential to surprise you, there are a series of basic questions that you’ll tend to see in an interview, so it’s best to be prepared to answer them thoroughly and honestly before you walk into the interview so you don’t look like you’re caught off guard or like you haven’t spent any time actually thinking about the interview. Here are some key questions that you may be asked:
- What are your strengths? Can you give us a concrete example to illustrate them?
- What are your weaknesses? (Do not say that you have no weaknesses or that you’ve never made a mistake. This will make you look like you’re full of yourself.)
- Why do you want to work for this company? Why do you think you’d be a good fit?
- What are your long term career goals?
- What was the biggest professional challenge you’ve ever faced? How did you tackle it?
- Are you good at working in teams? Can you provide an example of your strong team work?
- Why are you choosing to leave your present company? (If you’re currently employed elsewhere, be honest about wanting to leave without being overly negative or bad-mouthing your employer. You should be respectful at all times.)
5. Show up a little early! Make sure you are dressed appropriately and have everything you need. Ideally, you should carry a nice portfolio containing loose leaf paper and extra copies of your resume. Make sure to also being a couple of pens and pencils so you can jot down notes and be prepared with a pen if you’re asked for one.
- Knowing what to not to bring is also important. Leave your calculator and gum at home. If you absolutely need to bring your cell phone, make sure it’s completely powered off before you go into the interview. It also goes without saying that you should not bring anyone with you to the interview.
- Do not roll into the interview with your cup of Starbucks. This shows that you’re taking a much-too casual approach or that you’re too desperate.
Part 2 : Being Professional
1. Be clear! If you’re asked to answer a case question, talk through your process with the interviewer. Don’t be afraid to ask if your ideas sound accurate—you’ll be evaluated on your ability to structure your thinking, not on the number of questions you ask. In fact, talking through your process is a great way to engage the interviewer and turn the interview into more of a discussion.
- If you need something clarified, don’t be afraid to ask. You’ll do better if you know exactly what is being asked of you. Just don’t ask a question every two seconds or you’ll sound like you don’t know what’s going on.
2. Sell yourself! What are your unique selling points and how can you match them to what they want? Make sure you use plenty of examples as proof of your abilities. Show the interviewer that you can find the positives in your past experiences—this is not a time to complain about what you hated about your previous work situation.
- Remember those examples of your strengths that you wrote down earlier? This is exactly when they’ll come in handy.
- There’s a difference between being confident and bragging. Make sure you show what a capable, intelligent employee you are without singing your own praises.
3. Be inquisitive! Don’t forget to ask your questions. Pay attention as the interviewer answers—you may even want to jot down notes. This is both to prove that you are listening and also to give yourself a way to reflect on the interview later if you end up having to decide between multiple positions.
- Don’t ask the same questions at every interview. Ask questions that are tailored to the company to show that you’ve really done your research.
4. Be polite! Listen to each question fully before you begin to respond. Never assume that your interviewer has read your CV, but don’t treat him or her as though he or she hasn’t, either. After the interview, do not forget to send a follow up thank you-email. These are generally better than hand written thank you notes, as they are quicker than snail mail. However, you should be sure that they are well proofread and personal before you send them.
- Part of being polite is remembering to thank the interviewer for meeting with you after the interview. Show him that you really appreciate the time and effort he spent on speaking with you.
5. Be persistent! Keep interviewing. The more you interview, the better you will become at it. Don’t get discouraged. It’s unlikely that your first interview will lead to you landing your dream job, but that doesn’t mean you should lower your standards after the third interview. Keep aiming for what is realistic for your goals and background, and you will eventually find what you’re looking for.
Part 3 : Being savvy during phone or Skype interviews
1. Being savvy during phone interviews! If it is a phone interview, it’s usually with a PR person who knows very little about the position and technical terms related to a specific job. Make sure to use keywords and buzzwords while answering questions because you are trying to paint a picture with words, since the interviewer has no visual clues of you. Do this and you will pass the phone interview.
- Treat the phone interview like a real professional interview. Go to a quiet place, don’t get distracted or do anything else but speak, and talk slowly and clearly.
- Keep your notes in front of you, but still be prepared to talk on the fly. Having your notes can make you feel more confident about what to say, but don’t lean on them.
- Dress up. Dressing in a professional manner will make you feel more prepared than if you do the phone interview in your pajamas.
2. Being savvy during Skype interviews! The Skype interview is becoming more popular than ever, and has been a great way for employers to weed out employees that may not be a good fit during the first or second round of interviews. So, find a place with good lighting and a simple professional background, dress up and groom properly, and test your camera and microphone beforehand to make sure you’re ready for the interview.
- Treat the interview just as you would a face to face interview. Don’t think it’s less serious or professional just because you’re meeting over the computer.