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The Job Interview

The interview is designed to determine if there is a match between the employer's needs and your interests and qualifications. The interview process allows the interviewer and you to obtain information about each other.  While the interviewer is seeking information about you, you should use the interview to learn about key parts of the position.  Before you go to an interview it is important to know what it is you want to do, so be sure you know your career focus.

Download and consult the interviewing handout (pdf).

Main topics in the handout include:

  • The interview process
  • Practical considerations for the interview
  • Questions (general and behavioral)
  • Answering questions
  • Questions for the employer
  • Thank you letter

WHAT EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR IN AN INTERVIEW

The most common criterion employers are seeking will vary but the following will help you understand what you need to focus on in the interview:

  • communication skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • judgment
  • decision-making
  • honesty and integrity
  • leadership (initiative and responsibility)
  • accomplishments/high standards
  • interpersonal skills
  • teamwork ethic
  • flexibility/adaptability
  • motivation
  • commitment

PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW

Devote time to prepare for interviews. This will help you develop self-confidence and demonstrates to the employer that you have a high level of interest in working for that organization. Following are steps that can contribute to your success in obtaining job offers.

1. ANALYZE THE POSITION

Review your knowledge about the type of work for which you will be interviewed. For example, if you are interviewing to be a marketing analyst, lab technician or a graphic designer, be aware of the typical job duties and qualifications. If you are unclear about the position, review occupational information and conduct informational interviews to gain a better understanding of the type of work you are pursuing (see informational interviewing handout).

Review a copy of the job description and highlight important qualifications. Be ready to discuss how your skill, knowledge and experience will meet those qualifications.

2. RESEARCH THE EMPLOYER

 Learn as much as you can about the employer’s purpose, services and/or products, where its branches are located and what its future prospects are. Understand how this organization compares with similar and competing organizations. Is the company planning to introduce new products or services? What is the size of the organization?  What are the employer's current needs or problems?  Is the company growing or stagnating? Information can be obtained from various types of sources: including: company website, article search, Wetfeet Press, Vault Report, Hoovers Online, Jigsaw, Glassdoor, on-campus employer visits, and through networking with alumni/company employees.Investigate and understand the industry to learn about common issues, directions and trends.  This will help you in formulating thoughtful questions.

Through networking you can often learn about key organizations in your field of interest and difficult-to-obtain inside information about individual organizations. With this information, you will be better able to explain to the employer why you are particularly interested in working for them.

3. REVIEW YOUR QUALIFICATIONS

Review your past experiences and determine how they have prepared you for the position for which you will be interviewed. Consider courses, paid and volunteer work experiences, projects, activities, hobbies, etc. For each of these experiences, identify the skills, abilities and areas of knowledge you demonstrated.

4. PRACTICE

Practicing your responses to typical questions and discussing your qualifications will make you feel more comfortable in your responses. Practice in front of the mirror, with a friend, and/or videotape or audiotape your responses. Avoid feeling that you have to memorize answers to questions. The goal is to become familiar with the process of presenting yourself to others and to give the impression that you have given thought to these important questions.

For more detailed information and questions consult the interviewing handout.


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