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Your job during an interview is to sell yourself. There are a few steps that can help you during this process, and presenting yourself as a prepared and qualified individual will have a strong, positive impact on your candidacy.
Steps for a Successful Interview
Know who you are and what you have to offer. Here are some things you’ll want to think about.
- Your career objectives
- Personal qualifications
- Interests, values, skills
- Reasons for your career choice
- Examples of experiences (challenges, accomplishments, etc.)
- Geographical concerns (are you willing to re-locate?)
- Know your resume!
Know the Company
It is important to conduct research on the organization prior to the interview. Review the company website, but don’t stop there!
Company Research Resources
It is important to dress appropriately for any event in which you will interact with possible future employers. We suggest you identify what type of event you will be attending, whether it is a career fair, an interview, or a networking event, and dress to match the culture and environment of the employer(s) you will meet. A general guideline of what to wear includes:
- Clothes should be solid, dark, or neutral colors (light colors can be worn underneath) and in good condition
- Closed-toe heel (1"-2") or dress shoes that are clean
- Suit jacket and pants/skirt should be matching colors
- Hair should be well groomed
- Nails and makeup should be neutral in style and color
- Minimal jewelry and mild perfume/cologne
- Piercing and tattoo visibility should align with company culture or standards
It is best to arrive 15-20 minutes early for an interview. Never be late!
Practice standard interview questions
There are some questions that you will be asked in most interviews. Preparing for common interview questions will help you build confidence for the interview. Use InterviewStream, our video-interviewing platform, to practice. You will be prompted with questions and can record yourself.
The following are some examples of common questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What qualifications do you have that will make you successful in this position?
- What do you like about our company/organization?
- What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
- What interests you about our product or services?
- Why should we hire you?
Prepare for Behavior Based Questions Using the STAR Method
Based on the idea that what you have done in the past is a predictor of your future workplace behavior, the interviewer will be asking behavioral based questions. In answering these questions the interviewer will be expecting specific examples of a Situation/Task, Action, and Result (STAR).
- Sample Behavior Based Interview Questions
- Organizational skills: Tell me about a big project you had to plan for school or work. How did it turn out?
- Ability to set priorities: Describe a situation when you had several things to do in a limited time, such as study for exams. How successful were you at completing everything?
- Ability to delegate: Tell me about a big project you were in charge of and had to let others help you. How did your delegation work out?
- Interpersonal skills: Tell me about a time when you have had to deal with members of the public. What was the result of that interaction?
- Being a team player: Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a group problem. How did the problem get solved?
- Ability to deal with people: Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with someone in a position above (or below) you. How did you collaborate successfully?
Have several questions prepared to ask the interviewer! Three or four is usually a good number. Some examples of questions to ask about are:
- What kind of training will I receive?
- What kinds of growth and development opportunities are available?
- Is there a lot of team/project work?
- What is the company culture like?
Do not ask about salary during the interview. Let the employer initiate the conversation; however, always be prepared to discuss compensation at any time during the interview process.
For example, if asked salary requirements, it’s always best to ask the employer for provide a range but, if they would rather you do so then always suggest a range instead of a specific number. This range should have your target salary as the base and then calculate a 10% increase for the top of the salary range. To learn more on these steps, sign up now to start your free online salary negotiation workshop.
In addition to the free workshop, the links below will provide more information on how to discuss salary. Remember, it's a conversation, not a confrontation!
Research the average salaries of professionals in your field.
- NACE Salary Calculator
- Payscale.com Salary Negotiation Guide
- Harvard Business Review
- Occupational Outlook Handbook
Know what may be included in your total compensation package.
- Education and training
- Expenses (ex. commuting costs)
- Equipment (ex. laptop, cell phone)
Send a Thank You Note
A thank you note is one of the surefire ways to make yourself memorable and let someone know their time was valued after a networking meeting, function, or interview.
- Always write (e-mail is fine) within twenty-four hours of your phone call or interview
- Get the names right and spell all names correctly!
- Remind them why you’re contacting them
- Thank them in specific terms. Reference an element of your conversation.
- Keep it short and focused
- Attach a business card or copy of your resume, if appropriate