- Learn as much as you can about the company beforehand—know its products and services, its profit margin, its culture, its dress code, etc. Good sources of information are the Career Services office, a college or public library, and the Internet. CareerCentral’s Placement Service for students and alumni provides current and relevant information about participating companies.)
- Do practice interviews.
- Think about how your experience in work, classes, and activities can relate to the job you’re seeking.
- Allow plenty of time to get to the interview and, if possible, visit the site in advance and time how long it takes to get there.
- Plan your interview attire in advance and make sure your clothing is pressed, your shoes are shined, and your hair and nails are well groomed.
- Bring extra copies of your resume and a list of references. (Develop an Interview Portfolio)
- Speak slowly and clearly and don’t be afraid to pause for a moment to collect your thoughts.
- Be honest. Don’t try to cover up mistakes. Instead, focus on how you learned from them.
- Be assertive. Remember that the interview is a way for you to learn if the job is right for you.
- Ask the interviewer for a business card and send a thank-you note as soon as possible.
Planning Job Choices: 2002, National Association of Colleges and Employers
National Association of Colleges and Employers
Watch for clues that you are on track and that you have the interviewer with you. If the interviewer appears puzzled, stop and restate your reply. If the person loses interest, checks his/her watch often, or shuffles papers, “ask if you covered the point adequately.” Do not prolong the interview or you will run the risk of overselling yourself. While the initiative of the interview lies with the recruiter, it is not a one-sided affair. It is a mutual exchange where you sell yourself and put your best foot forward.
While as Christians we believe the Lord’s will shall prevail, you should not do less than your best to obtain the position. Do not interview just for the sake of interviewing; it is not being honest with the recruiter, and you are wasting his time. When you have secured and accepted a position, it is not ethical to continue to post your resume and continue to entertain other interviews. If your resume is posted in CareerCentral, for example, you should immediately change your privacy setting to be excluded from Resume Books. In addition, you should inform the Career Services office if you accepted a position and inform other recruiters who you have been in close contact with to let them know as well of your final decision.
- Use the interviewer’s name--title and last name--from time to time as you speak. Don’t use the interviewer’s first name unless you have been requested to do so.
- Phrase your questions so that you sound sure of yourself. “What would be my duties?“ sounds more assertive than “What are the duties of the job?“
- Use good grammar and good diction. Say “yes,” not “yeah.”
- Listen to how quickly you speak, and look for moderation. Don’t talk too fast. Don’t pepper the hiring manager with too many facts at once.
- Don’t fill pauses with “um,” “uh,” or “ah.” Don’t punctuate sentences with “you know,” “like,” “see,” or “okay.”
- Punctuate your speech just as you would a sentence. Stress the words that are most important. Don’t arbitrarily emphasize every third word; don’t keep your voice a monotone.
- Use active verbs. (I organized…. managed…. trained…. accomplished…)
- Don’t use the word “think,” “guess,” or “feel,” which sound indecisive; sound positive. Also, avoid “pretty good” or “fairly well.” Talk about your skills with positive words.
- Watch the tone of your voice. While it might be trendy among your friends to end a sentence with a higher tone of voice, so that sentences sound like questions, this habit will kill your credibility with hiring managers.
- Offer examples of your accomplishments. Use illustrations, descriptions, statistics, and testimonials to support your claims. (i.e., your personal portfolio)
Excerpt from Planning Job Choices: 1995, College Placement Council
Interviewing is a two-way street. It is appropriate to ask whether or not the job and organization fit you. In general, questions relating to job duties, responsibilities, opportunities for training, and employee advancement within the company are appropriate. Avoid asking self-centered questions—those dealing with salary and benefits should be avoided during the first interview. The questions you ask do as much to differentiate you from the competition as the ones you answer.
- What are the major responsibilities of this position?
- Is there a job description? May I see it?
- Can you tell me why this position is open?
- How often has it been filled in the past 5 to 10 years?
- What did you like most about the person who previously held this position?
- What would you like to see the person who fills this position do differently?
- What qualifications would you expect the successful candidate to possess?
- What do you see as my strengths/weaknesses for this position?
- What are the greatest challenges facing the person in this position?
- What kind of support does this position receive in terms of people and finances?
- How much freedom would I have to determine my work objectives and deadlines?
- How would my performance be measured and how is successful performance usually rewarded?
- How would you describe your management style?
- Can you describe your organizational culture?
- Do you have a lot of turnover? Why or why not?
- Why are you looking at external candidates for this position, instead of promoting from within?
- Would it be possible to meet the people who work in the department?
- Do you encourage participation in community or professional activities?
- Do you have a management development or internal training program?
- What are the company’s plans for growth in the next five years?
- How does the company intend to remain competitive?
- How do you encourage professional growth?
- Don’t ask specifically about tuition reimbursement; save discussion of employee benefits for salary negotiations.
- How long has this position existed in your organization?
- Does the company foresee any growth for this department?
- Is your company environment formal or informal?
- What are some of the most difficult problems I’d face in this position?
- Can you estimate the amount of travel required?
“Your questions must be asked in a spirit of honest and open inquiry. Tone of voice matters. Employers have weak spots, too. The interview is not the time to step on toes, so be careful how you ask your questions. It is suggested that you write down your list of questions on an index card and carry it in your suit pocket, attaché case, or purse. If you can remember all of your questions without referring to your card that is excellent. However, given the stress of the situation, you may find it difficult to recall the questions you wished to ask. If that happens, mention to the interviewer that you have some questions you want to be sure you don’t forget to ask and then refer to your index card.”
Interviewing, The Wall Street Journal, National Business Employment Weekly, 1999
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your hobbies?
- Why did you choose to interview with our organization?
- Why are you interested in working for this company?
- Describe your ideal job.
- What can you offer us?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
- Can you name some weaknesses?
- Define success. Failure.
- Have you ever had any failures? What did you learn from them?
- Of which three accomplishments are you most proud?
- Who are your role models? Why?
- How does your college education or work experience relate to this job?
- What motivates you most in a job?
- Have you had difficulty getting along with a former professor/supervisor/co-worker and how did you handle it?
- Have you ever spoken before a group of people? How large?
- Why should we hire you rather than another candidate?
- What do you know about our organization (products or services)?
- Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years?
- Do you plan to return to school for further education?
- Why did you choose your major?
- Why did you choose to attend your college or university?
- Do you think you received a good education? In what ways?
- In which campus activities did you participate?
- Which classes in your major did you like best? Least? Why?
- Which elective classes did you like best? Least? Why?
- If you were to start over, what would you change about your education?
- Do your grades accurately reflect your ability? Why or why not?
- Were you financially responsible for any portion of your college education?
- What job-related skills have you developed?
- Did you work while going to school? In what positions?
- What did you learn from these work experiences?
- What did you enjoy most about your last employment? Least?
- Have you ever quit a job? Why?
- Give an example of a situation in which you provided a solution to an employer.
- Give an example of a time in which you worked under deadline pressure.
- Have you ever done any volunteer work? What kind?
- How do you think a former supervisor would describe your work?
- Do you prefer to work under supervision or on your own?
- What kind of boss do you prefer?
- Would you be successful working with a team?
- Do you prefer large or small organizations? Why?
- What other types of positions are you considering?
- How do you feel about working in a structured environment?
- Are you able to work on several assignments at once?
- How do you feel about working overtime?
- How do you feel about travel?
- How do you feel about the possibility of relocating?
- Are you willing to work flextime?
Before you begin interviewing, think about these questions and possible responses and discuss them with a career advisor. Conduct mock interviews and be sure you are able to communicate clear, unrehearsed answers to interviewers.
EEO BiMonthly, July/August 1996
Most common; do you have the skills, knowledge, and abilities.
Tips: Sell your strengths; ask what problems the supervisor is facing and then suggest strategies to resolve the issues.
Social setting; how well do you handle yourself in a dining situation.
Tips: Select your food carefully (light, healthy, easy to eat); not spaghetti in sauce; eat gracefully.
Used to determine if you meet minimum requirements (in person, by phone or by video). Often by HR personnel with a written test.
Tips: Emphasize that you possess the desired skills and abilities; while on the phone – keep your portfolio handy; if by video – rehearse in advance.
Performed by three or more department representatives with questions from their interests and expertise.
Tips: Respond directly to the person asking the question while maintaining eye contact with the group; send thank-you cards to each.
Interviewed by potential co-workers to determine if you will fit in.
Tips: Be agreeable and approachable; don’t appear to have all the answers.
Longer; sometimes 1 or 2 days; on-site; combination of the above.
Tips: Switch your focus from emphasizing your strengths to selling yourself as a well-balanced package; listen carefully and dispel any underlying concerns; show you have done your research and are able to make a dedicated contribution.
- Do your research
- Practice good communication skills
- Be prompt and prepared
- Act professionally and be enthusiastic
- Ask for a business card for following up with a thank-you card
- Review the process and your performance
- Evaluate job choice
Job Choices (2004). National Association of Colleges and Employers, pages 40 and 42.
Premise: Past behavior will predict how a person will respond to similar situations in the future.
Focus: How have you actively applied your skills? Can you demonstrate the desired capabilities in the real world?
Tips: Take your time; be detailed; allow the recruiter to see the whole picture – your thought process, decision-making skills, emotional state of being, and the results of your actions.
Sample BBI Questions:
- Describe a creative or innovative idea that you produced which led to a significant contribution to the success of an activity or project.
- Think of a situation where you distrusted a co-worker or supervisor, resulting in tension between you. What steps did you take to improve the relationship?
- What was the most complex assignment you have had? What was your role?
- Tell me about a suggestion you made to improve the way job processes and operation worked. What was the result?
- What are three effective leadership qualities you think are important? How have you demonstrated these qualities in your past and current situation?
- Give a specific example of a time when you did not meet a deadline. How did you handle the subsequent situation?
Job Choices (2005). National Association of Colleges and Employers, page 46.
Premise: How well you handle the stress of the interviewing process is a good predictor of how well you may do on the job and how good a fit you will be for our company.
Strategy: Starting out rather calm, the process leads to more and more difficult and probing questions.
- Can you work under pressure? (yes/no)
- Good, I’d be interested to hear about a time when you experienced pressure on your job.
- Why do think this situation arose?
- When exactly did it happen?
- What, in hindsight, were you most dissatisfied with about your performance?
- How do you feel others involved could have reacted more responsibly?
- Who holds the responsibility for the situation?
- Where, in the chain of command, could steps be taken to avoid that sort of thing happening again?
- What did you learn from the experience?
- Tell me about a time when… Or I’m interested in finding out about…
- What is your greatest weakness?
- With hindsight, how could you have improved your progress?
- What kind of decision is most difficult for you?
- What area of your skills do you want to improve at this time?
- Are you willing to take calculated risks when necessary?
- See this pen I’m holding? Sell it to me.
- What is the worst thing you have heard about our company?
- How would you define your profession?
- Tell me about the time you put your foot in your mouth.
- What kind of people do you like to work with?
- What kind of people do you find it difficult to work with?
- I’m not sure you are suitable for the job. Are you?
“These are great questions.” Then offer your response followed by: “What do you think?” Or “How do you define __________? Give me an example of _________ that you have in mind? Do you need another example or further clarification?”
Stay relaxed but focused understanding that how you respond is as important as what you say.
Additional recommendations in Chapter 13. The Stress Interview (pages 107-124) from Knock ‘em Dead with Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions by Martin Yate.
Interview questions asked by a recruiter should focus on the job you are seeking and whether or not you can perform the responsibilities of that job.
Typical Illegal Questions
- What’s your marital status?
- Do you plan to have children?
- How many kids do you have?
- How old are you?
- What’s your birth date?
- Are you a US citizen?
- How tall are you?
- How much do you weigh?
- Do you have any disabilities?
- Have you had any recent or past illnesses or operations? If yes, list them and give dates when these occurred.
- Please complete the following medical history.
- When did you lose your eyesight? How?
If asked illegal questions, consider one of the three options:
- You could answer the question. However, you are giving information that typically isn’t related to the job and may even harm your chances of getting the job.
- You could refuse to answer the question. However, depending upon how you phrase your response, you could appear to be uncooperative and confrontational.
- You could examine the question for its intent and respond with an answer as it might apply to the job by providing input as if the question were asked correctly:
- Would you be willing to relocate if necessary?
- Are you qualified to work in the US?
- Would you be able and willing to travel as needed for the job?
- Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job? (assuming those responsibilities have already been given)
- Are you able to lift a 50-pound weight and carry it 100 yards, as this is part of the job?
- Can you demonstrate how you would perform the following job-related functions?
- As part of the hiring process, after a job offer has been made, you will be required to undergo a medical exam. (results will be confidential; supervisors will be notified of any necessary job accommodations)
Job Choices (2005). National Association of Colleges and Employers, pages 47 and 48.
As soon as the interview is over it is wise to make a follow-up contact with the recruiter communicating your level of interest or lack of interest in pursing the opportunity.
- Always send a thank-you note immediately.
- Call back within 48 hours to see how things are developing. Communicate your interest in pursuing the position or your decision to decline and look elsewhere.
- Ask if they need any additional information or personal references especially if they express interest in arranging another interview. Fulfill any requests asap.
- Review what you learned from the initial interview and prepare for the next level in the interviewing process or for another interview with a different place of employment.