Welcome to the Effective Interviewing online page.

This page is a complete refresher on how to prepare and present yourself in a professional and articulate way during an interview.

This page will tell you about how to prepare for the interview, how to present yourself professionally, and how to appropriately follow up after the interview to improve your chances of being selected.

Preparing for an Interview

The first and most important thing to remember in the interviewing process is to prepare. You will feel more confident and will be more successful than if you try to 'wing it'. Preparing includes researching the position and the unit or department that is offering the position, reflecting on how well you fit, organizing and preparing information for the interview questions, and finally practicing.

Research Before Interview
Researching the position is a critical and often overlooked part of interview preparation. What is the job you are interviewing for? What will you be doing if you start next week? You will need to know the skills necessary and the demands of the job.

Knowing the position is not enough, you need to research the unit or department offering the position. What does this group do and what is their organizational culture? How would you answer the question .what do you know about our organization?.

Finally, consider how well you will fit. Interviewers are trying to decide if you know what you are getting into, if you have the skills to do the job, and if you will fit in with the team and the unit.

There are many ways to get more information on a position and organization. A great way to start is to research websites and current and historical news events related to this unit or department.

One of the best ways to learn about an organization is by talking with someone who works there; this is called an informational interview and can provide you with not only great information but a personal connection too.

Talking to people you know and finding out what they know about an organization is another approach to consider.

Organize and Prepare for Interview

Now that you know what you will need to do on the job, think about ways you may have done those things in the past. These are called transferable skills. similar skills used in different environments or in different ways.

Next, organize content knowledge, which may include jargon or language associated with your type of work. Think about what you have learned from your past work and volunteer experiences. The best way to prove you have the skills and content knowledge is through specific examples. Think of examples before the interview.

Be as specific as possible with facts, figures or other information that makes your illustration more meaningful.

What is the most impressive part of your skill or your experience? You want your examples to highlight your best work.

Interview Techniques

Called - Interview STAR Techniques
The STAR technique will help you create specific and well organized illustrations to use during the interview. It is often used with Behavior based interviews, that ask .tell me a time when..

An effective example of your skills will start with a description of the situation that you were in.

Describe a specific situation, not a generalization of what you have done in the past. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand the story. It can be from a previous job, a volunteer experience, or any relevant event. Next you will talk about the task that had to be accomplished or the problem that had to be solved. With the scene set you will describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project, describe what you did, your role and responsibility -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.

Finally, give Results. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What was improved? What difference did you make? The more details you can provide about the results, the more impressive the story will be. This will provide an ending for your story that will make it more memorable.

Interview Preparation

With specific illustrations it is important that you high light your skills. Think of a variety of examples that illustrate skills that are needed for the position. Instead of just saying .I make a list and prioritize my time related to time management., give an example of your busiest week:

Here is a better example of time management:

As an executive assistant, working in the CLA Psychology department, I was also taking 2 classes towards completing my degree in Communications. During finals, the Chief Administrative Officer of our department was ill for 5 weeks, so my manager asked me to coordinate her workload and assist her with a huge grant that meant the future to our office. I used my time management skills to prioritize my work load and structure my time, as well as track the important tasks and projects that were due. The results of that hectic time were, we achieved the grant deadline, won the three-year grant award, I received 'A's in both of my classes and we all understood better how we could work together in the future. Finally, I was treated to a special lunch with my manager and the Chief Administrative Officer for the excellent work I did while she was out.

What Material to Bring to Interview

Other materials you will need to prepare and bring to the interview include, extra resumes, cover letters, a list of references, relevant work examples or a career portfolio to help visualize the work you have done. You may also want to bring the job description in case you need to refer to it during the interview. Bring a pen for taking notes along with a list of thoughtful questions you have for your interviewer to answer.

Interview Practice

Just like anything, you get better with practice. Set up an appointment with Employee Career Services for a one on one consultation and interviewing practice.

There are on-line options for practicing, including interview stream. For this option you must have a webcam. Quintcareers website has several interview practice options and is a great resource for job search needs.

What to Wear for Interview

Dressing professionally will help make a positive first impression. It shows that you care about this position and the interview. You will make the best impression with the hiring supervisor or search committee, if you dress more formally than the department normally does. You will be safe if you err on the more conservative side of dress, which means selecting tailored clothes in more conservative colors such as navy, brown or gray. Remember that you don't want anything in your outward appearance, including accessories, to distract your interview team.

Always arrive 10 minutes early, NEVER come late. (Coming on time to an interview, is considered late.) Do a test run to the interview location prior to the actual interview to avoid any delays.

Treat everyone you meet including administrative assistants and receptionists with kindness and respect, these are your potential co-workers.

Greet anyone you meet with your full name and the name of your interviewer.

Meeting Interviewer

Greet your interviewer enthusiastically. Use appropriate eye contact and smile. Smile, even if you are nervous. Stand up to show respect and self assurance.

Extend your hand for the handshake. Use a medium-to-firm handshake -- no dead fish, or bone-crushing. Introduce yourself, such as: "Good morning, I'm Jim/Jane Candidate, I'm glad to meet you" and "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a candidate for this position." If there is more than one interviewer, be sure to write down each of their names, so you can refer to them if necessary. You will also need their names and contact information for follow up thank you notes.

Interview Dos and Don'ts

There are lots of interview Dos and Don'ts here are a few big ones!



Common First Interview Question

Many interviews start with the question, tell me about yourself, or some version of this. Rather than give your life story, provide information that is relevant to your professional success.

Focus on your experiences, education or training, knowledge, skills, abilities, successes and career goals as they relate to the job for which you are interviewing. The key here is what is relevant from your background that fits with this new position.

Behavioral Interview Questions

A common interviewing practice is Behavioral Interviewing. This is when the employer asks questions about your past experiences. This will give the employer an idea of the skills you have and a time when you used them.

These questions usually start with something like, .Tell me about a time when.. or .Describe your best example of.. Use your STAR illustrations to highlight your skills and abilities with concrete past examples. For more examples of behavioral questions, click on the link.

Weakness Interview Question

It is common for interviewers to ask about your weaknesses. It is often easier to identify our strengths, and usually not as easy to talk about our weaknesses.

Most importantly, employers want to know how your weaknesses relate to the position, and what you are going to do about them. Pick a weakness, then explain what you are working on and how you are overcoming this weakness, illustrating your ability to improve.

Another key question you will want to be prepared to answer is .Why are you looking for a new job?. or .Why are you leaving your old position?. The answer to this question is worth thinking about, writing down and practicing. Often people can get themselves in trouble by saying things about past supervisors or teams that they never intended to say in the interview. The best thing to do with this question is to be honest, and future focused about the new position.

Questions for Interviewers

Typically at the end of an interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Always ask questions of the interviewer-- if you don.t you may signal to the interviewer that you don't really have any interest in the job or the organization.

Think about what you would really like to know.

Do not ask questions where the answer is obvious or readily available . or when the topic has already been thoroughly discussed in the interview.

Some suggested areas to ask about might be work environment, culture, leadership styles, and challenges ahead.

Closing an Interview

At the end of the interview, make sure to ask for a business card. Ask the person their time frame for hiring and what you can expect as next steps Smile, stand, shake hands and make eye contact. Show enthusiasm. You may also want to reiterate that you are excited about the position and thank them again for their time.

Interview Thank You Note

Sending a thank you note within 24 hours is important. Send one to everyone who interviewed you! This is where those business cards will come in handy. Many organizations make their decisions quickly and you want to illustrate your follow through and professional etiquette.

Thank you notes will get more notice if they are hand written and mailed. If that is not an option for you, you may type it or at a minimum e-mail a thank you. In the letter, thank them for their time, talk about something that genuinely interested you and reiterate your interest in the position and with the organization. Thank you notes are also a great way to mention something you forgot or want to reinforce.

Interview Follow Up

Following up after an interview is an excellent way to show you are on top of things and really interested in the position. You must be respectful of the time line for hiring that they outlined during the interview. It is appropriate to call and ask where they are in the process, but only after the time line has expired and you haven.t heard from them.

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