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An interview is an opportunity to present your background, experience and allow you to evaluate a potential supervisor and work environment.
Keys to Success:
- Review the job description and research the organization in detail to understand what they are looking for.
- Reflect on what you bring to the position, reviewing your application materials and why you want this position.
- Know the interview logistics, plan ahead for commute time and interview attire
- Practice telling relevant stories and prepare your own questions.
Ace The Interview:
For in depth interview help review the Ace the Interview video trainings from Lydia.com, provided for free by Brandeis. Find videos on preparing, interviewing, following up, and practice scenarios.
Interviews take different formats depending on type of interview and its purpose.
Phone interviews are often brief screenings interviews focused on basic qualifications and interest in the position. Find a quiet place to make your call. Prepare your space with relevant application materials to reference during the conversation. It’s important to show enthusiasm for the position, a smile will come through in your voice.
In-person interviews may last from a half hour to a full day to help employers get a sense of your personality and style, as well as to be able to ask you about your qualifications, skills, and interests. In-person interviews could be with one person, multiple people in a group, or several interviews back to back. Find out who you will be interviewing with so you can best prepare. Practice your answers and be aware of your non-verbal cues including eye contact and body language.
Your interview starts as soon as you enter the building, don’t forget about staff in reception or at a front desk. Greet your interviewer with confidence, making eye contact, and extending your hand for a firm handshake.
Skype or video-conferencing:
Video interviews are common and often used to screen applicants. Be sure to test out the technology in advance. Pick a neutral background, with a quality internet connection. Treat the interview as if it was an in person interview, including dressing professionally and maintain eye contact with the camera.
Helpful Tip: use InterviewStream to practice before a video interview.
Employers use group interviews to better gauge how you work on a team and to meet with a number of candidates at once. Groups are often asked to tackle a problem, rank priorities or discuss an issue. In addition to the answers you give the interviewer, also pay attention to how you treat the other candidates in the room.
For positions that require strong speaking and teaching skills, an employer might ask you to do a sample presentation during your interview. Practice your presentation to make sure that you are able to share what is most important in the time allotted.
Provide a broad sense of you and your background and may address your college experience, past work experience and interest in the position and/or organization.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why did you decide to seek a position with this organization?
Skill-focused and based on the philosophy that past experiences predict future behavior. They are designed to elicit concrete examples of things you’ve done.
Describe a situation when you acted as part of a team.
Tell me about a time when you demonstrated your communication skills.
Share how you would approach a problem or situation. They may be framed in an analytical, business structure or a “what if” scenario. For example:
Your client is Motorola. The year is 1980. They just invented the cellular phone 3 years ago. They want you to estimate the market demand for cell phones over the next 30 years and tell them if there is a market for this invention.
Responding to Questions
The STAR technique provides a strategic framework to share concrete examples.
- Situation – a brief setup of the situation you are going to talk about
- Task – an explanation of the task you had to complete or problem you had to solve
- Action(s) – specific/detailed actions you took, focusing on the skills you used in this situation
- Result – positive outcome from the example you shared; how did things turn out?
Question: Tell me about a time you initiated a project to meet an unmet need.
Situation: I was a teaching assistant for a writing course, in which I was responsible for tutoring writing sections and grading.
Task: I noticed students were over-utilizing office hours for similar types of basic questions about specific assignments, readings, and group projects.
Action(s): After sharing my thoughts with the professor, I developed a supplemental guide of frequently asked questions, tips for group assignments, and examples of learning goals. I distributed this guide to both the professor and students, and together we informed students that we could speak about these types of issues further during office hours.
Result: As a result, the professor and I experienced a decrease in student inquiries about these issues, which enabled us to focus on more in-depth conversations with students about course materials and special situations. Students also expressed an appreciation for these results and the professor now uses this guide with each section.
You will be expected to have questions at the end of the interview. Make sure that your questions:
- Relate to the position and the organization/industry
- Are appropriate to the interviewer’s level and position in the organization
- Express your research and interest for the position/organization
View sample questions that you can ask your interviewer.
Thank you letter
This is a critical opportunity to restate your interest and qualifications that set you apart from other candidates. Review the best way to Say Thank You.
Interview Details for Success
Before the interview
- Review your online presence
- Research the position, organization and expected salary range
- Print extra copies of your resume to bring with you to your interview
- Bring a simple portfolio to hold your resumes, pen and notepad
- Dress professionally
- Relax before going into the interview. Take deep breaths and focus on your skills, strengths and opportunity to share your story
- Turn off your cell phone during the interview
- Plan your transportation to your interview and plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early
During the interview
- Be mindful of your body language and posture
- Shake hands firmly and maintain eye contact
- Project enthusiasm
- Listen carefully to each question
- Politely ask clarification for questions that are unclear
- Speak in positive terms, avoiding negative comments
- Avoid questions about salary and benefits until after you have been offered a position
- Close the interview with a summary statement to reiterate the skills you have to offer and reaffirm your interest in the position
- Get each interviewers’ name or business card so you can follow up with a thank you letter
- Ask for a timeline regarding the hiring process