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Acing the Interview


Acing the Interview
                           

Successful interviews are the result of preparation. Use the information below and visit your Career Planning and Placement staff for assistance and ace your next interview.                      


Interview Quick Tips:
  • Review your resume in advance and be able to talk about it in detail.
  • Prepare 4-5 example stories that highlight your skill set.
  • Understand and use the STAR method throughout your interview.
  • Practice answering example questions [PDF].
  • Learn about the organization and position before the interview. See our networking tips for assistance.
  • Make sure you know where you are going and who you are meeting. It is a good idea to travel to the site in advance to fully prepare.
  • When answering questions, focus on school and work examples. Avoid details from your personal life.
  • Prepare interview clothes in advance. See our professional dress guidelines below.

Interview Types

The most common types of interview questions are outlined below.  Need help? Your Career Planning and Placement staff offers mock, or practice, interview services. Set up your appointment in advance and practice with a professional. You can also find practice questions here [PDF].               

Screening Interview
A screening interview ensures that the candidate meets the minimum qualifications. It often covers your resume in more depth and is done over the phone. During a screening interview be ready to discuss your qualifications and accomplishments right away and to answer questions directly.

Traditional Interview
Traditional interview questions are often open-ended and broad. During a traditional interview, focus on the interviewee’s objectives. Ask yourself, “What is most relevant to this opportunity and what will they care about?”

Skills Interview
A skills interview allows the employer to see you in action. They are popular for technical positions and may include an exercise, simulation or test. To prepare, practice your skills before the interview, research the organization's services or products and explore test preparation options.

Behavioral Interview  
You might not realize your potential employer is conducting a behavioral interview. In this type of interview, your potential employer uses your previous work and accomplishments as an indicator of your future performance. Questions focus on how you responded to difficult or unusual situations you encountered. Behavioral questions often begin by asking for examples and specific details. Use the STAR method below to successfully answer behavioral questions.   

STAR Method
The STAR method is an interview technique used by many employers during behavioral interviews. Each letter in the STAR acronym represents an element of an answer the interviewer expects. Using the STAR method will increase your chances of success.

Element: Example:
Specific Situation When I worked at Starbucks as a barista
Task I often had to lead a team of 3 fellow baristas while the manager was away
Action Taken so I developed a checklist to make sure all tasks and breaks were completed
Result and as a result, we were more productive as a team.

Interview Tips

Making a great impression is an important element of a successful interview. Imagine the interview beginning the minute you walk into the interview location. Arrive on time, but no more than 30 minutes early. Make eye contact, smile, and be pleasant with everyone you meet, including administrative personnel and security guards. When appropriate, use a strong and assertive handshake and have you resumes ready to distribute.                       

When answering questions, listen and make sure you understand and answer the whole question. Don’t be afraid to take time to collect your thoughts in order to answer the questions completely. Be ready to provide specific examples and use the STAR method. Focus on school and work examples. Act natural to keep the interview comfortable and conversational.                       

Once the interview is over, make sure to send a thank you email and note to your interviewer(s). See examples here [PDF]. Also be sure to update with your Career Planning and Placement staff to share success stories or work on areas of potential improvement.                       


Professional Dress

Dressing professionally is important in both the job search and in the workplace. The way you dress projects to the world your “brand”. Make sure your attire sends the right message.                       

Professional Dress Tips                  

Everyone:                   

  • Exercise good judgment and be neat and conservative in appearance with regard to clothing, hair, and accessories.
  • Know your industry. Dress appropriately for your chosen field.
  • When in doubt, opt to dress more formally.
  • Black or blue suits are usually a safe choice in many situations and industries.
  • Make sure your clothes are wrinkle-free and clean.
  • Ensure clothing fits comfortably and is not too tight or baggy.
  • Stick to neutral colors; avoid displaying tattoos and wearing strong perfume or cologne.

Men:                        

  • Keep shirts tucked in and pants properly hemmed.
  • Keep facial hair trimmed and neat.
  • Ensure you nails are well groomed.
  • Wear your hair in a conservative style.
  • Wear an undershirt to prevent showing underarm sweat and chest hair.

Women:                        

  • Keep skirts knee-length and pants properly hemmed.
  • Avoid sleeveless tops or very bright colors or patterns.
  • Keep hair neat and do not dye hair outrageous colors.
  • Remove chipped nail polish or excessively long or bright nails.
  • Keep makeup to a minimum and wear conservative jewelry and accessories.

Professional Dress Resources

Your Career Planning and Placement staff can help you determine what attire is work- or interview-appropriate. They can also refer you to low- or no-cost resources that can help you obtain interview clothing. Plan ahead so you are prepared to make a great first and lasting impression.                     

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