Prepare for the Interview
- Do research on the company and industry.
- Do a self-evaluation to know yourself and your qualifications.
- Don’t interview with a company unless you are interested in that company.
- Don’t use the interview to find out about the company—do your homework first.
- Don’t interview with companies for “practice”—it is a disservice to the employer and to other students who may really want to work for that company, in addition to possibly creating a bad impression of the school and preventing future recruiting.
Research the Job and Company
- Research literature and annual reports. See Networking for ideas.
- Determine whether this is a firm you want to work for. Are the salaries and benefits appealing? Does it have solid growth plans?
- Develop a personal understanding of the company and industry to sell yourself as a prospective employee. Learn what is unique about a company compared to other firms in the industry. Compare the company’s plans and programs to others in the same industry.
- Contact alumni working for the company to get several perspectives of the company, including information about what it takes to get hired, the company atmosphere (easy-going, driven, etc.), and what is involved in the position you are seeking.
Know Yourself and Your Qualifications
Everything you have done helps develop abilities that are transferable to other situations. Be careful not to undervalue work experience, especially mission experience. Take time to identify all your skills and strengths. See Self-Assessment for ideas to evaluate your past experience. The following method is an example.
- Action: Skills/Strengths Developed
- Work many hours: Dedication, high energy level, and strong work ethic
- Teach contacts: Interpersonal, planning, and communication skills
- Train other missionaries: Leadership, communication, and time management skills
- Learn a second language: Learn quickly, perseverance, adaptability
Once you have identified your skills and strengths, choose from your list those which qualify you for the position you are seeking. Focus on what you can do for the employer. Be creative. Write narratives about your accomplishments to practice articulating your experience.
Practice, Practice, Practice
- Review your resume and be ready to expand any part of it in detail. Also take note of things which are not on your resume which may be important to bring up during the interview to show why you are qualified for a specific position.
- Prepare questions about the company that include what your responsibilities, opportunities, and challenges will be. These questions can also be a way of sharing ideas or solutions to problems you may have about issues you discovered during your company research. Refer to the end of this section for lists of questions you may be asked and suggestions for questions you might ask.
- Take advantage of mock-interview opportunities. Career Services offers mock interviews that are video-taped to allow you to review and critique your performance. This kind of practice is critical to improve your performance.
- Watch one of the interview panel videos where students discuss their experiences in the interview process. Learn what worked and what to avoid from people who have already been through it.
- Check out the Vassel Interview Video Tapes from Career Services and practice a mock interview at your home.
The interview is your opportunity to sell yourself. Do not go in expecting the interviewer to do all the work. A good interview should be a two-way conversation with both parties doing some of the asking and some of the telling.
Before you completely stress out, stop to remember a few reasons you have nothing to fear but fear itself. Taken from “Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed” by H. Anthony Smedley
- Interviews center on the subject you know (or should know) best: yourself.
- If you’ve done your homework, you have an advantage: you know more about the interviewer and the company than the interviewer knows about you.
- Interviewers expect you to be nervous.
- You have nothing to lose.You didn’t have a job offer before the interview. If you don’t have one after it, you’re no worse off than before.
A Few Tips to Help You in the Interview
Taken from “Interview Success Tips” by W. Dean Lee
- Dress conservatively. Hopefully you will have learned enough about the company to know what is appropriate to wear, but when in doubt, overdress.
- Be prepared to meet good and bad interviewers. Some interviewers will seem aggressive, prejudiced, one-sided, stressful, inattentive or unprepared; others will be top-notch professionals.
- Be punctual. Arrive a few minutes early to give yourself time to freshen up. If an emergency comes up that will result in tardiness or even absence, call Career Services at 378-4859 if it is an on-campus interview. For off-campus interviews, contact the company immediately to inform the interviewer of your situation. There is nothing worse than an unexplained no-show.
- Make a good first impression. A firm handshake, eye contact, and a gracious greeting are good starters. Do not be seated until invited to do so. Sit up squarely and comfortably. Think about the message your body language is conveying.
- Answer questions carefully. In other words, think before you speak. Provide a well-formulated, concise answer (less than two minutes). Be honest. Accentuate the positive and elaborate on the areas in which you are especially knowledgeable. Never volunteer negative information about yourself, another person, or the company. If you are asked about your weaknesses, give just one and make it something that will not affect your performance in the job for which you are applying.
- Pay attention and maintain good eye contact. Let the interviewer finish questions uninterrupted. Give him or her your full attention. Don’t ask questions that have already been answered. Take note of key phrases the interviewer uses and incorporate them in your answers. Most important, listen well.
- Remain professional at all times. Everything you say and do should be centered on why you are the most qualified candidate for the position. Don’t try to “buddy” the interviewer. Everything you say and do is being noted by the interviewer and will be considered when the final decision is made.
- Ask insightful questions. Show your interest and enthusiasm by asking sincere questions.
- Say thank you. Follow up with a letter expressing your appreciation and also mentioning any vital information you may have left out. If you don’t hear from the interviewer by the time you both agreed on, follow-up with a phone call to see where things stand.
- Additional Interview Tips
Setting Up Off-Campus Interviews
Plan and Organize–Don’t Shortchange Yourself by Being Unprepared
- Shop for lowest airfares.
- Make arrangements to stay with a friend or relative. Otherwise, consider contacting universities or colleges to find an inexpensive room.
- As you set up appointments, ask if there is a date and time which would be more convenient for them. Make a tentative appointment and say you will firm up the time in a few days. Tentative appointments allow you flexibility in planning your itinerary to make the most efficient use of your time.
- Try to make interview arrangements early enough to send a confirmation letter. If time does not permit a letter, be sure to call and confirm your appointment upon arrival in the city.
Be Prepared for the Interview
- Discover the types of questions used by employers in your functional area. Set up interviews with professionals who do what you want to do. Many are willing to spend a few minutes with you to discuss their work and careers. They will ask you significant questions and provide excellent insights that will help prepare you for the interview.
- Some of the things recruiters are trying to determine in the interview is a candidate’s inherent skills and abilities. Practice interviewing on a tape recorder or in front of a video recorder using the kinds of questions you have discovered. Listen to your responses. Improve them. Practice again and again until your responses reveal what you want to convey. Refining your responses will force you to understand your own goals and motives. Employers want to know how you handle stress or difficult situations. Make sure you have “stories” to back up the skills/qualities you say you have.
- Understand and use business etiquette. A wise candidate makes an investment in future success by learning professional behavior.
- Take along extra copies of your resume and references.
- Carry a detailed, completed generic application form. It can be a great asset if you are asked to complete a company application on-site. By completing the form in advance, you will have an accurate history of your past employment and education.
Follow Up the Interview With a Thank-You Letter
The interview doesn’t end with polite goodbyes. A personalized thank-you letter that is carefully prepared can, in many cases, make you stand out as a good candidate.
- Reiterate your interest in working for the specific company, itemizing reasons you believe you could make a contribution to the company that you didn’t cover in your interview. However, make this letter short and to the point.
- If you don’t hear from the company within ten days, don’t hesitate to call your interviewer. This will merely indicate your continued interest and may favor you.
Ten Reasons for Rejection
Taken from “Spilled Drinks, Fainting Spells, and Other Interview Blunders” by Kenneth R. Jurek
- Poor attitude. Negativity, arrogance, defensiveness.
- Job Shopping. If you’re just trying to see how many offers you can get, and you’re not really interested in the job, don’t interview.
- Lack of research. Don’t waste the interviewer’s time by asking questions you could have found answers to in company literature and magazine articles.
- Not having questions to ask. Show your interest by asking intelligent questions.
- Not readily knowing the answers to interviewers’ questions. Anticipate and rehearse answers to tough questions so a brief pause will be all you need to gather your thoughts and respond intelligently.
- Relying too much on resumes. Employers hire people, not paper. Show and tell them things they didn’t already know from your resume which qualify you for the position.
- Too much humility. Don’t brag, but don’t be afraid to describe how you have reached difficult or impressive goals. Help your employer understand what you can do for them.
- Not relating to employer’s needs. Relate your experience and skills to what the company needs. Show them how you fit.
- Handling salary issues ineptly. Don’t worry about salary and benefits until you’re pretty sure an offer will be made. This lessens the chance that you will scare off an employer by overpricing yourself or appearing desperate by undervaluing yourself.
- Lack of career direction. Not knowing what you want wastes everybody’s time.
Please think about the impression you are making when you make your job selection decisions. Do not accept an offer too early thinking that you can change your mind if a better opportunity arises. It does not leave the company with a good impression of either you or the Marriott School of Management. If you are offered a job that you don’t really want, do not take it out of fear that it will be your only offer. A negative impression caused by unethical conduct can affect our relationship with an organization both now and into the future.
20 Questions You May be Asked in an Interview
- What are you looking for in a job?
- Why did you decide you wanted to interview with this company?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What do you consider your major accomplishments in school?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives?
- When and why did you establish these goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
- Describe how your prior work or school experience prepared you for the business world.
- What computer-related courses have you had?
- How would you describe your computer skills?
- Have you had any community service experience?
- What are your outside interests and activities?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- If you had to do it all over again, would you have gone into the same program?
- What kind of research have you done on this industry?
- What do you know about this company? In what way can you make a contribution to this company?
- What are your most important concerns when seeking a position?
- Describe some situations in which you have used initiative in your professional life.
- What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?
- Describe your most rewarding experience.
Types of Questions to Ask the Interviewer
Many of these questions would also be appropriate to ask alumni when you do your initial research on a company. Be aware, though, that interviewers will recognize canned questions—avoid those. Do sufficient homework on the company that you can ask specific questions based on your knowledge.
- What are the company’s and department’s goals for the next five years?
- What part do you expect me to play in achieving these goals?
- What personality traits and skills are critical to success in this position?
- How do you identify and reward outstanding work? Tell me about your performance appraisal system.
- Are people encouraged to learn about the organization beyond their own departments?
- What is the chain of command here? Formal or informal?
- Where is the person who last occupied this position?
- How do you feel about professional development courses, conventions, etc., as vehicles for enhancing professional growth?
- Tell me about the most important projects the organization has recently begun. What projects are planned for the future?
- How do you envision my background and skills complementing those of your current staff?
Behavior-based interviewing is a structured pattern of questions designed to probe the applicant’s past behavior in situations similar to those the job encounters. It is based on the concept that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. When the interviewer asks, “Tell me about a work situation where you had to do creative problem solving,” the job seeker who has a three-minute, personal experience ready to tell will be placed high on the “possibles” list. And, if the performance revealed by the story matches the skills required to do the job, then the candidate just might be “in.”
Consider the Following Steps:
- Analyze the job or position for which you are interviewing.
- Determine the skills required. Evaluate your own background to identify your skills and experience that relate to the job objective.
- Develop and rehearse brief scenarios about how you used those skills, each illustrating a specific activity or task required by the job. Each “story” should explain the problem and your solution and give the results in quantitative terms, if possible.
- Be prepared to provide examples of occasions when results were not as expected. The skilled interviewer will probe your skill in handling failure as well as success.
- Be prepared for questions asking for more detail than you’ve already given.
- Identify three to five top selling points—attributes that set you apart from other candidates—and be sure to point them out during the interview
Examples: Tell me about a time when you were most persuasive in overcoming resistance to your ideas. What was the situation? Tell me about the time you most regretted not getting advice before going ahead.