Skip to main content

Interviewing Tips

Interviewing & Job Offers

Being prepared for your interview will give you the confidence to succeed in highlighting important qualities and skills needed to illustrate your qualifications.
Employers typically want to know three things:

  • Can you do the job?

  • Will you do the job?

  • Will you fit in with the organization?

Your job is to provide enough solid information to answer an unequivocal “YES!” to all three of these questions. To do so effectively, you will need to be aware of the specific characteristics employers seek in new hires. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), who surveys hundreds of employers each year, the attributes most highly sought after are:

1.  Communication skills
2.  Honesty/integrity
3.  Interpersonal/ teamwork skills
4.  Motivation/initiative
5.  Strong work ethic

It is not uncommon for candidates to get nervous before the interview.  However, interviewing is a two-way street; it is an opportunity for you and the employer to get to know each other.  Contrary to what you may have heard, interviewers do not want to intentionally ask you difficult questions just to see you make a mistake.  In fact, employers want you to do well during the interview.  Think about it: they invest a lot of time and money screening and recruiting candidates.  The sooner they can identify the right person, the sooner their job is done.

The good news is that the more experience you get with interviewing, the less nervous you will feel.  Like any other task you have mastered, interviewing is a skill. If you have ever been on a team, played an instrument, or performed in public, you probably didn't just show up on game day and expect to deliver a flawless performance.  Instead, you probably spent many hours beforehand practicing, rehearsing, and visualizing what you would do and say.  Well, interviewing is no different; it is a skill that requires preparation and practice.

We have resources available to help you prepare for whatever comes your way.

Virtual Interview Preparation

How to Make a Good Impression in a Virtual Job Interview

Prepare your interview answers

Be ready to answer common interview questions such as these:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you leave your last position, or why are you leaving your current position?
  • What do you know about this company?
  • What are your goals?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What has been your most significant achievement?
  • How would your last boss and colleagues describe you?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • "Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult person.  How did you handle this situation?"

This is a behavioral interviewing questions. For this, and many other questions, the “STAR” technique can be a helpful way to gather your thoughts.

STAR Technique for Answering Interview Questions

STAR stands for:

  • Situation - describe the past situation
  • Task - describe task you needed to accomplish
  • Action - describe the action you took
  • Results - what did you accomplish or learn?
  • For example, if an interviewer said, “Tell me about a project you initiated,” you could answer as follows:

  • Situation/Task - During my internship last summer I was responsible for managing “ABC” events … I noticed that attendance at these events had dropped by 30% over the past 3 years.
  • Action - I designed a new promotional packet to go out to the local community businesses… collected feedback on our events… organized internal discussions to raise awareness.
  • Result - We utilized ideas from the community, made our internal systems more efficient and visible and raised attendance by 18% the first year.
  • With each behavioral question asked, think through what information is being sought – and provide an example from your own experience. Don’t ramble; take a moment to collect your thoughts and organize your answer before replying. Also try not to say ‘we’ too often – the interviewer wants to know what 'you' accomplished specifically.

    Your Questions

    It's important to ask relevant questions of the employer regarding the organization and the position to enable you to thoroughly evaluate the job and determine if it is the right fit for you. If you have done your research on the organization and know what job factors are most important to you, you will be able to ask well thought-out questions. Do not ask questions that are answered by reading the organization's literature or website, as this will only reflect your lack of adequate preparation. Some areas you may wish to ask questions about include the following.

    Training Programs and Professional Development 
    How long is your training program?
    What does the training encompass?

    Advancement and Transfer Opportunities 
    What are the opportunities for advancement beyond this level?
    In what other areas are you located and would I be eligible for relocation?

    Organizational Structure and Growth 
    How is this department structured and how does it fit into the overall organization of the company?
    What new product lines have been announced recently?

    Position Responsibilities and Travel Requirements 
    What are you looking for this position to accomplish?
    How much travel is normally expected? Where would I be traveling?

    Supervision and Evaluations 
    Whom would I be reporting to for this position?
    What kind of supervision would I receive?
    What amount of contact would I have with my supervisor?
    How often are performance reviews given?

    Salary is not usually discussed during the early stages of the interview process. It is appropriate to wait until the employer brings up the topic. At the time you learn from the interviewer that you are being seriously considered for the position, inquire about the salary and other compensation, like the vacation time you will earn.  Prepare to discuss salary by doing research and calculations ahead of time.  We cover more of this information in the offers section of the website.

    Follow Up 
    Even after the interview is over, you still have work to do; always send a thank you letter to the employer. If you are not contacted within the specified time, you may call to ask about the status of the position and restate your interest.

    When you receive a job offer, take the time you need to consider it before making a decision. If you have received several job offers, acknowledge each one promptly with a note thanking the employer and restating the terms of employment. Request a time frame in which to make your decisions. Once you have accepted a position, contact all other organizations and thank them for their interest.

Remember, the interview is a learning experience, so you may want to consider asking the interviewer for constructive feedback.

Graduate School Interview Questions

Not all graduate programs interview, but be prepared for the possibility, especially if you're applying for a slot in a particularly competitive program or field. First, if you're asked to interview, congratulate yourself! Only applicants who have made it to the short list of finalists are asked to interview, as interviews are time consuming and costly.