Career Center

Interviewing

Interviews present both employers and candidates with the opportunity to determine fit between the position requirements and each party’s goals.  The more you know about yourself, the organization, and the interview process ahead of time, the more successful your job search will be.

Preparation
While all industries and organizations have their own interview guidelines, preparation for each individual interview is very similar.  Before every interview, you should know the latest developments in your field, be familiar with the organization’s mission and goals, and understand the job requirements.  Most importantly, you should know your own skills, interests, and priorities well enough to express fit for this position.  Think ahead about what you want the interviewers to say about you when you leave the room and develop a plan for marketing that image to them.  Practicing for the interview with a mentor or in a SoMCC career consultation appointment is a good way to ensure you are clearly and effectively communicating this image and fit.  Finally, decide ahead of time what you need to know about the employer and formulate questions accordingly.

The Interview Process
Some of the top reasons listed for rejection of candidates are: lack of self and/or employer knowledge, lack of enthusiasm, low self-confidence, and poor communications skills.  You will want to stay calm and relaxed throughout the process – the best interviews are those that flow similar to a “normal” conversation.  Keep this in mind as you successfully work through the following stages of the interview process.

First Impressions.  You will want to arrive at the interview site about 10 minutes early and be dressed in industry-specific attire.  When you are unsure of the industry standards for dress, it is better to error on the side of being too conservative.  Greet your interviewers with a firm handshake, maintain eye contact with them, and focus on being your best self throughout the process. 

Q &A: Getting to Know You. Most questions are attempting to assess one of three things: can you do the job, will you do the job, and how will you fit into the organizational “culture”.  For question examples and to stimulate thought about potential answers: Common Interview Questions.

When answering questions, it is best to be concise and to emphasize those key points which display your fit.  Providing specific examples of how you demonstrated a particular skill or achieved success is also one of the best ways to explain an answer. Do not be afraid to talk about your accomplishments and skills and be sure to speak about your experiences in positive terms.  When faced with difficult questions, try to avoid saying “I don’t know”.  Instead, try to focus on skills or experiences related to those for which the interviewer is asking. 

Q &A: Getting to Know the Employer.  You will have an opportunity at the end of the interview to ask the employer questions as well.  These questions allow you to assess how their goals and priorities fit with your own; asking questions also displays your interest in the position.  Your questions will most likely center on the day-to-day activities of the job, the employer’s goals for the position, your potential supervisor’s management style, and the culture of the office. 

Conclusion.  At the end of the interview, be sure to thank the interviewers for the opportunity to meet with them.  You should also leave the interview with a sense of start date for the position and when the interviewers plan to get back to you with a decision. 

After the Interview
Within a couple of days after the interview, email or handwrite a thank-you note that reiterates your appreciation and any key points you want them to remember from the meeting.  The message should be substantive, but brief.   On your own, keep track of your immediate impressions from the interview and compare these with other interviews you have had so that you may compare offers later on.  You may also use this time to debrief with career professionals, mentors and/or colleagues about the interviews and plan for changes you need to make next time.  Finally, be patient.  It can sometimes take a while to prepare and make an offer – no answer is not necessarily a “no” answer.

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