The Lloyd & Helen Ament Astmann '69 Career Center
Interviews occur at the stage in the job search process where employers make their hiring decisions. They provide an opportunity for you to make a strong connection with the employer and demonstrate why you’ll be a good fit for the position and the company.
Interviews can take a variety of formats including:
In these interviews candidates will meet in person with human resources representatives, recruiters or supervisors. Meetings can take place at the company site, on campus, at a job fair or at an independent meeting site. The interview format may be as short as an hour or as long as a full day or half day visit. Candidate may interview with one person, a series of individuals or with a group. Employers will always let you know in advance what the format will be.
Some employers find it efficient to conduct initial screening interviews by phone. Those candidates that stand out during the phone interview are often invited to an in-person interview at the company. Phone interviews are similar to other interviews, but present some unique challenges. Some good advice for phone interviews:
- Have a copy of your resume, notes on the organization and questions you want to ask nearby.
- Verify time zones if you are interviewing from a distance.
- Set up the call in a quiet room, free of distractions. If possible, use a land line to avoid dropped calls or poor reception. Never interrupt a phone interview to take another call or to speak to someone who enters the room.
- Practice ahead of time.
In these interviews, several employer representatives will interview the candidate. Questions can come quickly and the interviewee needs to listen carefully and provide clear and concise answers. While speaking to a group may seem daunting, observing the dynamics of the group can offer valuable insights about the company and its management philosophy.
In these interviews, several candidates participate together in a group interview. Questions may be directed to all the applicants or to an individual applicant. Employers are able to observe factors such as candidate self-confidence, teamwork, presentation skills and the ability to think on your feet.
Job Fair Interviews
These are often a very brief exchange that allow you to tell a recruiter about yourself and your interest in the organization or position. You may need to do this in a noisy room with many distractions, or there may be quiet interview space available for the recruiters to use. Present your pitch concisely and clearly. Sometime job offers may be made on the spot, but it is more common for employers to invite the top candidates for an on-site interview at the company.
Videoconferencing and Internet Interviewing
These formats provide efficient and cost effective ways to interview for positions in other geographic locations. Things to remember for these formats include:
- Test your connections or equipment in advance.
- Always verify time zones.
- Have a phone readily available as a back-up.
- Be aware of background images and noise.
- Wear solid-colored clothing that contrasts with your skin tone.
- Focus on the interviewer’s image, speak clearly, and avoid quick movements.
The interview process is often broken down into four stages:
- Prior to the interview
- The day of the interview
- The interview itself
- Following the interview
Prior to the Interview
- Research the company, the position, the industry and the location
- Review the information on your resume and cover letter so you can speak in more detail about it.
- Identify why you are the best candidate for the position.
- Identify potential questions that the employer may ask.
- Conduct practice interviews with friends, family or career center staff.
- Prepare questions you would like to ask the employer.
- Update your Linkedin profile or other social media sites.
- Prepare a professional outfit to wear to the interview.
- Consider creating business cards that you can hand out.
- Get directions to the interview and map out your travel route and schedule, allowing ample time for traffic or unexpected delays.
- If asked to do a presentation at the interview, prepare that material and practice, practice, practice.
On the Day of the Interview
- Bring extra copies of your resume to the interview.
- Bring names and contact information for references.
- Dress appropriately for the industry and company.
- Arrive 15 minutes early.
- Attend the interview alone, leave your friends and family members at home or in the car.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- Take a deep breath and relax.
During the Interview
- Display appropriate manners and etiquette.
- Make good eye contact.
- Have a firm handshake.
- Be yourself.
- Be enthusiastic about the position and the company.
- Never badmouth previous employers, supervisors or co-workers.
- Take adequate time to think through your answers before responding.
- Be concise but provide specific examples of accomplishments, strengths and skills.
- Come prepared with questions you would like to ask.
- Do not mention salary or benefits first, let the employer bring those up.
- Inquire about the next steps in the process.
After the Interview
- Shake hands and thank everyone you met with.
- Ask for business cards.
- Send a handwritten or email thank you note to the people you met wit. If you met with a search committee, send the thank you to the chair of the committee.
- Carefully weigh the pros and cons of the job objectively to decide if you want to proceed with the search or if it is best to withdraw..
- Follow-up with the employer if you do not hear back within a timely period.
- Create an objective strategy if you wish to negotiate any aspect an offer such as salary, hours, benefits, etc.
- If you are not selected for a position, be professional and courteous. Do not post negative comments about the interview or the company on social media.
- If you are not selected for a position, consider asking for feedback on ways you could improve your skills if you wanted to apply for future openings in the organization.
- If you are offered the position, carefully weigh the pros and cons. You usually have a few days to think over an offer before giving an answer. Do not accept a position that you don’t really want. If you accept a position honor your commitment.
Career Services has created a variety of tip sheets and handouts to assist you in your interview preparation. Staff is also available to work with you on a one-to-one basis.