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If you build a resume that speaks to employer needs, chances are good that you'll be invited to interview. If you are, you'll need to make sure that you present yourself as effectively in person as you did on paper (or online). By learning more about what an interview entails, practicing your answers to commonly asked questions, and planning for the interview overall, you will gain the skills and confidence necessary to impress an employer and, ultimately, receive the job offer.

The Center for Career and Professional Development has several resources to assist you with preparing for your interview. Students and alumni are able to schedule interview appointments with our Career Counselors to go over commonly asked questions and interview tips. To schedule an appointment please use NAVIGATE (click on the purple button on the right) or come in-person to 150 Reid (entrance adjacent to the pay lot near Scott).

For Interview Attire Tips please click here.

Commonly Asked Interview Questions

  • Tell me a little about yourself. This is an open-ended question usually asked to help "break the ice". The key thing to remember is to keep your response related to the job. Be specific and don't ramble. Your answer should be about two minutes in length.
  • Why are you interested in working for this organization? This will show the employer that you have done your homework. Be specific and state how what you have learned about the organization through your research relates to your career goals.
  • What have you chosen this particular field? This allows you to demonstrate your enthusiasm and dedication to your field.
  • Describe your best/worst boss. Be positive. Speak about your best boss if possible. If pressed to speak about your worst boss, try to put a positive spin on it. For instance, "I had a supervisor who was often very vague. However, because of this, I learned the value of good communication."
  • What is your major strength/weakness? Your major strength should be easy, but be sure it is directly related to the position. As for your major weakness, again, put a positive spin on it. For instance, "I tend to be nervous around my supervisors, although I've gained more confidence in that area since my last job where my supervisors encouraged me to ask questions."
  • Give me an example of a problem you encountered either in school or at work, and explain how you solved it. Be logical. State the problem and then illustrate the step-by-step procedure you used to correct it.
  • Where do you see yourself in three years? Tell the interviewer that you hope to be with the company in whatever capacity you can make the greatest contribution, based on the skills and experiences you've gained over the course of the preceding three years.
  • Describe an experience in which you worked as part of a team. Being able to both contribute to and lead a team are very important qualities. Give this question serious consideration and develop answers for both situations.
  • If you could be an animal, which would it be and why? This is not a trick question. You may be asked questions that seem ridiculous or out of place. The interviewer is trying to see if you can think on your feet.
  • What was the last book you read? This is intended to see if you remain current in your field and/or read for self-improvement. Think of (and read) a book that relates to your business or contributes to your personal growth.
  • Do you have any questions for me? This is a question you can always anticipate. As a result of your research, you should have several good job and/or company specific questions to ask. It shows you are prepared.

Questions You Can Ask

  • Would you describe an average day on the job?
  • What is the history of this position? Why is it vacant?
  • What aspects of the job would you like to see improved?
  • What are the key challenges and/or problems facing the person in this position?
  • Is there room for professional growth and upward mobility?
  • How would you describe the ideal candidate?
  • When, how, and by whom would I be evaluated? What are the performance criteria?
  • With whom would I be working? Who would be my supervisor? Who would I supervise?
  • What is the department's environment/culture like?
  • What is the next step in the hiring process? Will there be additional interviews?
  • When will you make the hiring decision? May I call you? When is a good time?

Interview Types and Tips

Employers use a variety of interview techniques and settings to determine your hireability. Be aware of which type of interview you'll be having and how to respond accordingly. Following are common interview types and suggestions on how to be successful in each situation.

Screening Interview Screening interviews may be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video to help employers determine if you meet the minimum qualifications for a job. These interviews are usually handled by a representative from the HR department and tend to follow a set format and logical procedure. Emphasize succinctly and directly that you possess the desired skills/abilities for the position. For phone interviews, keep your portfolio close at hand for easy access and reference. For video interviews, rehearse in advance with a career counselor what comes across naturally.

One-on-one Interview

This is the most common interview format and is usually conducted on site by the hiring supervisor. The interviewer focuses on questions to assess your skills, knowledge, and abilities as they relate to the job. In addition to selling your key strengths, ask what problems the supervisor currently is facing and then suggest strategies that he or she could implement to resolve the issues.
Panel Interview This group interview is usually conducted by three or more people who generally ask you questions that correspond to their areas of interest/expertise. Remember to direct your answers to the person who asks the question, but maintain eye contact with the other members of the group as well. Following the interview, be sure to send thank-you notes to each of the participants.
Peer Group Interview This type of group interview will introduce you to your potential co-workers. They will probably not have the ultimate authority as to whether or not to hire you. Rather, they will be evaluating you and making recommendations as to whether or not you will "fit in." Focus on being agreeable and approachable rather than someone with all the answers.
Luncheon Interview The purpose of the lunch interview is to assess how well you can handle yourself in social situations. You will probably be dining with your potential boss and co-workers, as well as HR professionals. Make your meal selection carefully. Select light, healthy, and easy things to eat. Steer clear of spaghetti and other potentially messy foods that are not easy to eat gracefully. Do not order alcohol even if others do.
Second Interview Second interviews are similar to first interviews except they are usually longer, involve more people, and are often held at company headquarters. You may have a combination of individual, panel, and peer group interviews throughout the process. The focus of the second interview is to ensure you have the necessary skills and that you will blend well with the organization's culture. Switch your focus from emphasizing your specific strengths to selling yourself as a well-balanced package. Listen carefully to the interviewers to determine any underlying concerns and attempt to dispel them. Prove that you've researched the company, and emphasize that you will work as a dedicated member of the organization.
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