• The Interview: Tips and Techniques

    Congratulations!  If you are reading this page, it probably means that you have either submitted a resume or job application and have been called for an interview.  It is critical to remember that although you have been given the opportunity to interview for the job, you are not the only candidate. There are probably others being interviewed that are equally well qualified.  Consequently, you need to put your best foot forward.  Your appearance, your behavior, and your responses to interview questions will be scrutinized.  

    To interview successfully, you will need to follow these 5 important steps:

    1. Do some research about the company.
    2. Dress appropriately for the interview.
    3. Be on time or even a little early.
    4. Ask intelligent questions.
    5. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and send a thank-you card or email.

    Do Some Research

    It will work to your advantage to know a little about the prospective employer before you go in for the interview.  You can find a tremendous amount of information about the company by checking out their website, talking to employees (if you know any), and simply by calling the company and talking to the operator.  

    Dress For Success 

    One of the greatest challenges for students is dressing professionally.  Although fashion changes and the workplace is becoming increasingly more casual, dressing professionally is critical when interviewing for a job, even if you know that you won't be dressing in the same manner once you've been hired.  Employers will assume you are dressing your best.  If you arrive for the interview in torn jeans they will only anticipate that you will come to work in tattered clothing.  Be mindful and make a GREAT first impression! 

    Arrive Early

    You should arrive at least 10-15 minutes early.  Take the extra time to review and then relax so you will be ready to make a great impression in the interview.  DO NOT RUSH!  Review your directions and have a clear understanding of where you are going, where to park and where to meet for the interview.  Allow time for delays due to traffic.  Be prepared for the unexpected. 

    Ask Intelligent Questions

    A common mistake during the interview process is for the applicant to fail to ask questions about the company with whom they are interviewing.  Some candidates fear that by asking questions about the company they may look stupid.  To the contrary, appropriate questions make the candidate look genuinely interested in the position as well as the company. Before your interview, review the following list of questions from The Muse.com.  Based on your research, jot the questions down in a notebook (that you will take to the interview) that are relevant to the position.  For example, if you are interviewing for a position as a cook at McDonalds the question, "What are the skills and experiences you're looking for in an ideal candidate?" would be appropriate, while the question, "What sort of budget will I be working with?' is not.

    The following is an excerpt from The Muse.com The Muse Website

    The Job

    First, make sure you have a handle on exactly what the day-to-day responsibilities of the job will be—both now and in the future.
    1. What does a typical day look like?
    2. What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
    3. Can you show me examples of projects I'd be working on?
    4. What are the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
    5. What attributes does someone need to have in order to be really successful in this position?
    6. What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
    7. What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
    8. What sort of budget would I be working on?
    9. Is this a new role that has been created?
    10. Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?

    Training and Professional Development

    Think of each new job not just as a job, but as the next step on your path to career success. Will this position help you get there?

    1. How will I be trained?
    2. What training programs are available to your employees?
    3. Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development?
    4. Would I be able to represent the company at industry conferences?
    5. Where is the last person who held this job moving on to?
    6. Where have successful employees previously in this position progressed to?

    Your Performance

    Make sure you're setting yourself up for success by learning up front the goals of the position and how your work will be evaluated.

    1. What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
    2. What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
    3. What is the performance review process like here? How often would I be formally reviewed?
    4. What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?

    The Company

    Because you're not just working for one boss or one department, you're working for the company as a whole.

    1. I've read about the company's founding, but can you tell me more about ___?
    2. Where will you see this company in the next few years?
    3. What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?
    4. What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?
    5. What gets you most excited about the company's future?

    The Team

    The people you work with day in and day out can really make or break your work life. Ask some questions to uncover whether it's the right team for you.

    1. Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
    2. Who will I work with most closely?
    3. Who will I report to directly?
    4. Can you tell me about my direct reports? What are their strengths and the team's biggest challenges?
    5. Do you expect to hire more people in this department in the next six months?
    6. Which other departments work most closely with this one?
    7. What are the common career paths in this department?

    The Culture

    Is the office buttoned-up conservative or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of place? Learn the subtle, but oh-so-important, aspects of company culture.

    1. What is the company and team culture like?
    2. How would you describe the work environment here—is the work typically collaborative or more independent?
    3. Can you tell me about the last team event you did together?
    4. Is there a formal mission statement or company values? (Note: Make sure this isn't Google-able!)
    5. What's your favorite office tradition?
    6. What do you and the team usually do for lunch?
    7. Does anyone on the team hang out outside the office?
    8. Do you ever do joint events with other companies or departments?
    9. What's different about working here than anywhere else you've worked?
    10. How has the company changed since you joined?

    Next Steps

    Before you leave, make sure the interviewer has all of the information he or she needs and that you're clear on the next steps by asking these questions.

    1. Is there anything that concerns you about my background being a fit for this role?
    2. What are the next steps in the interview process?
    3. Is there anything else I can provide you with that would be helpful?
    4. Can I answer any final questions for you?

    ALWAYS Thank the Interviewer and Send a Thank-you Card or Email after the interview

    All too often, candidates assume they are doing the employer a favor.  The employer has actually done the candidate a tremendous favor. The employer has taken the time from a very busy schedule and given the candidate undivided time and attention during the interview process.  Be sure to thank the employer for their time and consideration when the interview is ending.
    If the employer has not already done so, ask for his or her business card.  Why?  Because when you get home you are either going to send a thank you note via traditional mail or email.  Why?  Because it's polite, it gives you one more attempt to tell the employer why you would be the perfect person for the job, and because it just might be the one thing that sets you apart from the other job applicants!

Last Modified on September 1, 2023