»Learn to Interview

"It is not always the person most qualified who is hired, but the one who is most prepared for the interview."

The above statement reveals a truth about interviewing: it is a skill that can be learned.  Interviewing is having the ability to verbalize your skills, talents, and experience in a concise and articulate manner.  Below is a breakdown of the complex process of employment interviewing, as well as tools to successfully get through it!!

+-Preparing for the Interview

Know yourself – One of the first questions that interviewers like to ask is “Tell me about yourself?”, it’s important to be prepared and really know how to answer that question concisely and confidently.  Doing the panther paw can really help in this process, as well as knowing your skills, strengths, accomplishments and goals.  With the ability to communicate effectively what they are and how they can be incorporated in the job you are applying for.

Research the Company – The top 5 things to know prior to the interview about the company, based on a research study done by the University of Tennessee are:

  1. Know the product or service and its history
  2. What are the typical clients or customers of the company
  3. What is the company’s relative standing in the marketplace
  4. Where are the company’s headquarters located
  5. Know the specific details of the job you are applying for

Any other relevant points that you may feel important go to the company’s website and research.

Prepare your questions – In every interview they will ask if you have any questions and it’s important that you’ve done your research and have at least 5 questions prepared to ask.  This will let the interviewer know that you took the time to prepare and are willing to invest time to learn more. 

Practice – Make sure to practice speaking in a strong and confident voice, pay attention to posture, and have a friend or parent practice asking you questions.

+-During the Interview

Be prompt and prepared – Make sure to arrive 10-15 minutes early to find parking and the building or office, and leave time so you’re not rushing and out of breath.

Dress for success

Listen – Make sure you understand what information is being given as well as paying attention the questions being asked.  If you feel unsure of what is being asked, ask for clarification.

Answering Questions – Most interviewers will ask questions that fall into the category of open-ended questions or behavioral questions.  You can use the STAR interview method to help you answer most questions as thoroughly as possible.

+-After the Interview

Send a thank you letter or email to all the individuals you met with during your interview, especially to the main contact person a.s.a.p.  This letter allows you one more chance to highlight your qualifications for the position as well as your interest or possibly no further interest in the position.  It gives you the last opportunity to stand out from others who have applied as well.

Follow-up – If you haven’t heard back after two weeks you can call to follow-up to see if a decision has been made.

+-General Interview Questions

These questions typically revolve around four areas: personal qualities, education, experience, and career expectations.  Answer honestly and limit the length of your answers to no more than 1-2 minutes.

Personal Qualities

  1. Tell me about yourself?
  2. How do you organize and plan for major projects?
  3. When you are faced with a tough decision, how do you go about making it?
  4. How do you handle yourself when you’re in conflict with someone?
  5. How will you contribute to the organization?

Education

  1. Why did you choose to go to Chapman University?
  2. What were the factors influencing your choice of a major? Why?
  3. Were there any unusual difficulties you had to overcome in college?
  4. Do you have any plans to further your education?
  5. Why did you choose this major? This career?

Experience

  1. What did you learn from (or why don’t I see any) internships on your resume?
  2. What have you learned from participation in extra-curricular activities?
  3. How do you determine or evaluate success based on past experience?
  4. What accomplishments have you achieved (if any) in your jobs or internships?
  5. Did you hold any positions of leadership in any organization?

Career/Job Expectations

  1. How has your education prepared you for your career?
  2. Are you seeking employment in a company of a certain size? Why?
  3. What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope to work?
  4. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
  5. How does this job help you achieve your long term career goals?

+-Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavior interview questions are based on the premise that past actions are the best indications of future behavior.  Therefore, questions are asked that demand specific answers in order to discover if you possess certain job skills.

Formulating Appropriate Answers

Interviewers who ask behavioral questions expect answers with specific examples.  Therefore, when preparing for this type of interview, anticipate the job skills required in the position and think of past experiences where you have demonstrated these skills.  For example, a job in sales requires customer service orientation.  Think of situations where you have dealt with customers and practice structuring your answer using the STAR method.

Sample Behavioral Questions

  1. Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  2. Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  3. Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  4. Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  5. Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  6. Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  7. Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve make in the last year.
  8. Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you’re required to prioritize your tasks.
  9. Can you think of a person or group you have worked with who saw things differently from you? And how did you handle it?
  10. In what areas of your present job have good verbal communication been most important?

+-STAR Interview Method

When you get behavioral interview questions the interviewer is looking for specific examples.  This allows the interviewer to evaluate a candidate’s experiences and behaviors based on actual events, and the applicant’s potential for success within the company.

Remember to take a few seconds and think about the question and formulate it based on the STAR method in order to give the most successful answer.

Situation – What was the situation that you were faced with related to the question being asked.

Task – What tasks were involved in the situation that you needed to accomplish?  The interviewer is looking for a specific event not generalized, the more detail the better.

Action – What actions did you have to take?  Keep the focus on you and your role in the situation.

Results – What were the results at the end? Was anything accomplished and by how much or how long? What did you learn from the experience?

Example:

Q:  Tell me about some things in your job that you have done beyond what has been required.

A: “Last summer, I was head lifeguard at a large public pool that employed 20 lifeguards (SITUATION).  One time, a parent called the desk frantic because she had tried to call her so n for a couple of days and had gotten no response.  She demanded that I locate her son (TASK).  I knew I had to stay calm because she was upset.  I let her talk for several minutes, reassured her that I understood how frightening it must be, and carefully explained that I could not leave the desk to locate her son.  I didn’t want to just transfer her to the R.A., in case she ended up talking to answering machine, so I asked if I could put her on hold, and called the R.A. on that floor.  He wasn’t in, but luckily I found the Hall Director, so I transferred the call to the Hall Director (ACTION).  By then, my patience and efforts to help had calmed down the parent (RESULT).

+-Questions to Ask Interviewer

You should always have a list of questions prepared to ask about the organization.  Asking questions show your interest in the organization, gives an opportunity to show what you know, and demonstrates your motivation and willingness to go the extra step.  The following list will give you a start on identifying areas where you may want to ask questions.

  • Ask questions that re of genuine interest to you and will help you make an informed decision.
  • Ask questions that show the depth of your research and preparation.  Do not ask questions which could be answered on the organization’s website.
  • Ask questions specific about the daily responsibilities related to the technical more detailed aspects of the job.
  • Remember you can ask questions throughout the interview, you don’t have to wait until the end.  However, don’t monopolize the conversation let the interviewer lead.

Sample Questions

  1. What are the main objectives and responsibilities of the position?
  2. Where does this position fit into the company’s organizational structure?
  3. Can you describe the company’s culture?
  4. What are the organization’s strengths, and what major problems/challenges does it face?
  5. Are there training and development programs required/offered within the organization?
  6. What qualities are you looking for in a new hire?
  7. What is the next step in the process?
  8. When do you expect to make a hiring decision for this position?

 

(Information Received from University of Tennessee)

+-Thank You Letter

The thank you letter is your final opportunity to express your interest in the position as well as reiterate why you would make a good candidate. Here's how to format a thank you letter, so you make the best impression.

Contact Information: (Your contact information)
Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address

Date

Contact Information: (The person you are writing to)
Name
Title
Company
Address
City, State, Zip Code

Greeting:

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

Body of Thank You Letter:

When writing a thank you letter, keep your letter simple and focused. Single space your letter and leave a space between each paragraph

The first paragraph of your letter should thank the interviewer(s) for taking the time to interview you.

The second paragraph of your thank you letter should include the reasons why you are a strong candidate for the position. List specific skills that relate to the job you interviewed for.

If there is information about your qualifications that you wish you had mentioned during the interview, but didn't get a chance to discuss, use the next paragraph to explain.

In your closing paragraph, reiterate your appreciation for being considered for the job and let the hiring manager know you are looking forward to hearing from him or her soon.

Closing:

Best Regards,

Signature:

Handwritten Signature (for a mailed letter)

Typed Signature

 

(Information obtained from About.com Job Searching)

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