You’ve worked hard on your resume, created a targeted, convincing cover letter and networked with friends, faculty, staff, alumni and family all the with the goal of getting an interview. Interviewing is a skill; successful interviewing is the result of preparation and practice. This is not the time to “wing it.” Preparation will help alleviate nerves and help you to present yourself as effectively as possible.
Remember that the purpose of an interview is two-fold.
The employer needs to find out if you are the best candidate for the job:
- Can you do the job?
- Do you have the appropriate background, including education, skills and experience? Are you able to learn and adapt to their needs? Will you go “above and beyond” the basic expectations?
- Will you do the job?
- Do you want to work for this company, or do you simply see this as a stepping-stone? Are you aware of and honest about your future goals and plans? Are you motivated and eager to learn?
- Do you want the job?
You need to find out if this is a good opportunity for you:
- Does this position fit well with your priorities?
- Will you be able to apply your education and past experiences and learn new skills?
- Is this company and department a good cultural fit?
Types of Interviews
- Human resources and hiring managers just don’t have time to grant every promising resume a face-to-face interview. Instead, top performers in a phone interview with HR will advance to in-person interviews with a hiring manager.
- Skype interviews are unique because you are in two venues at the same time. Through your computer screen, you are in the same room as the recruiter, and the recruiter is in the place you’ve decided to take your Skype call. According to the American Marketing Association, it is important to choose an appropriate setting for your interview. You need to find a quiet place with a door where you won’t be interrupted and that won’t distract your interviewer.
Note: If you need a distraction-free place to conduct digital or phone interviews, you can contact BCS to book a private room.
- Tip: Remember to direct your answers to the person who asked the question, but maintain eye contact with the other members of the group as well.
- Ask for business cards at the beginning of a group interview and arrange them in front of you to remember names and key into their represented function.
- Keep up to date on employers coming to campus and interview details by visiting UCareerPath.
- In the case of emergencies or last-minute changes, please contact Business Career Services at 801-587-8687.
Students can schedule appointments to meet with a career coach or career ambassador for a face-to-face mock interview or to review a recorded digital mock interview.
Many companies now use online platforms for part of the interviewing process (Skype, Hirevue, Google Hangouts). Get comfortable doing online interviews by practicing with the digital mock-interview feature on Handshake (link to digital mock interviews). You will be recorded for your personal review; you have the option of sending the interview to a career counselor to review together.
Behavior-based questions are a staple of today’s interviewing process. Employers are interested in hearing about past experiences because they are good indicators of what an applicant’s future performance would be on the job.
These questions typically begin with…
- “Tell me about a time…”
- “Give me an example of time…”
- “Describe a situation when…”
Handling Illegal Questions
Various federal, state and local laws regulate the questions a prospective employer can ask you, the job candidate. An employer’s questions — whether on the job application, in the interview or during the testing process — must be related to the job you’re seeking. For the employer, the focus must be:
“What do I need to know to decide whether this person can perform the functions of this job?”
- Reflect on your skills, interests, values, previous experiences and personal traits.
- Map your skills, abilities and accomplishments to the position for which you are interviewing. Completing a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis can be helpful.
Research, research, research
Researching before an interview gives you a competitive advantage by showing you are proactive, and will indicate professional knowledge and interest. It also allows you to demonstrate you can speak intelligently about important issues and highlight how your qualifications fit the employer’s needs.
- Review their website, especially products, services and new projects
- Follow them on LinkedIn and other social media
- Investigate culture on Glassdoor.com
- Research for reputation, competitors and media coverage
- Talk to present and/or past employees if possible
- Ask the company if they administer tests to identify knowledge, personality or probability of success and how you might prepare
Practice, practice, practice
- Practice your professional introduction and responses to common interview questions
- Rehearse using the START technique for responding to behavior-based interview questions
- Schedule a practice interview with your career counselor or a career ambassador.
- For long-term preparation, join a local Toastmasters Club, which assists members in improving their speaking and leadership skills.
- Choose your clothing well in advance to ensure your clothing fits well and is clean and pressed, and your shoes are polished. Dress conservatively and appropriately for the company culture. If in doubt, dress up.
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Arrive no more than 10-15 minutes early; know where you’re going and be prepared for adverse traffic/weather conditions.
What should you bring to the interview?
- Copies of your resume, pens, reference list and transcripts — in a professional folder
- A list of job-related questions that illustrate your interest in understanding the position
- Be polite — cell phone should be turned off, not just on vibrate. Leave it at home or in the car if possible.
Body language is important. You must make a great first impression.
- Use a firm handshake
- No fidgeting — keep hands and feet calm
- Sit with good posture
- Smile and relax to reflect confidence
- Maintain good eye contact
- Draw from your experience, skills and motivations
- Actively listen and respond accordingly
- Describe a situation, your action, and the outcome — remember, “past performance is the best indicator of future behavior”
- Demonstrate sincere interest, and project energy and enthusiasm
- Be yourself and be honest
- Correctly pronounce everyone’s name (research pronunciations if they are unfamiliar)
- Ask for clarification if unsure of the question
- Ask prepared questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the company and your interest in understanding the position
- Find out the hiring timeline without pressing for an early decision
- If the interview is conducted during a meal, know dining etiquette.
- Close the interview
- Before you leave, express your interest and ask about the next steps in the hiring process
- Ask for contact information – you want to be sure you have accurate contact information so that you can follow up with people you met.
- Don’t discuss salary, vacation or benefits
- NEVER criticize previous employers or colleagues; it reflects badly on you
- Don’t give repetitive or generalized examples
- Don’t show discouragement
- Don’t ask for an evaluation of your interview performance
Write your impressions immediately.
- Note their questions and your answers; how can you improve next time?
- Record important dates and key information
Send a thank-you note within 24 hours by email or standard mail.
- Expand or clarify any issues from the interview
- Personalize it — include references to things you discussed during the interview. If you met with numerous people, send a new, customized thank you message to each individual.
- Don’t miss the opportunity to reiterate interest and qualifications. If there is something important that you wish you had mentioned during the interview, take the chance to address it in the thank-you note.
- Indicate how you will follow up
What if I’m invited to a second round interview?
- Ask about the format and clarify agenda
- Prepare new questions for specific people
- Plan your attire based on proposed activities