How to Interview
The employer has determined from your resume or some other means that you may have what they are looking for. At the interview the employer will decide whether you really do have the needed technical and interpersonal skills. It's time to shine. However, this is also your time to determine whether this employer is the right one for you at this time.
Research the Organization. Find out as much as you can about the organization so you know its purpose and problems. How else will you be able to convince the employer you have the needed skills and abilities? Check out the organization’s website, read articles about them online, perhaps read the annual reports and even visit the site in advance. Prepare some questions for the employer based on your research.
Be On Time. Make sure you know where you are going. You may want to practice the route so you know you'll be on time. Leave early. It's better to be early and relaxed, than late and nervous.
Dress Properly. Figure out what people wear on the job at that organization, and dress like them or a step more conservatively. Don’t wear perfume or aftershave; more and more people are allergic to scents.
Bring Your Resume. Bring extra copies of your resume and references. Make sure you know your interviewer’s name (and can pronounce it properly).
Be Friendly ... Watch for "Silent Interviewers". The administrative assistants, people you meet in the hall... any of them may be asked for their impression of you. Remember to smile and be friendly and polite.
Make a Good First Impression. You will spend the rest of the interview living up to or living down your first impression. Make it good! Practice a firm handshake, make eye contact, smile. Be aware of your own body language and that of the interviewer.
Listen. Make sure you understand what the interviewer really wants to know. You may take a few seconds to formulate your answer, although if you have prepared with the practice questions you shouldn't be taken by surprise.
Never Criticize. You may hate your current job or some of your classes, but don't be negative. It will make you seem negative. If asked what you've liked least about previous experiences, talk about what you have learned about yourself.
Be Your Best Self But Be Yourself. You have to live with the position you get, so don't win it under false pretenses. Be yourself. Talk enthusiastically but realistically about your experience and the skills you have to offer. Relax as much as you can. Don't forget to smile.
Follow Up. Send a thank you letter immediately. This is another chance to impress the interviewer with your enthusiasm for the position, perhaps to comment on a few points made during the interview, and to solidify a good impression.
SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
Tell me about yourself. Use this opening to tell the interviewer about experiences that suit you for this position.
What do you see yourself doing in five years? What are your long range career goals? Do you know how working for this organization fits into your long term goals?
What is most important to you in a job? Do you know what this position is like? Do you have the skills and temperament to do it? How do you know?
What is your greatest strength? Show how suited you are for the position.
What is your biggest weakness? Everyone has one. Try to choose something work-related, which you have either overcome or is really sort of handy, such as “I can be competitive” for someone interviewing for a sales position.
What accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction? Your response should be relevant to the position.
What kind of people do you like to work with? Hard-working, team-oriented, etc.
What experience do you have that would prepare you for this job? Read over your resume and cover letter before the interview. All experience, including activities, counts!
Have you ever been fired? What's the worst mistake you ever made? You learn from your mistakes -- take responsibility and talk about what you learned. Don't be negative about your former boss, professor or organization. It makes people nervous.
Do you plan to go to graduate school? The answer is "yes" if a graduate degree is customary in that field, "No plans yet, but we'll see" otherwise.
What do you know about our organization? Your research should prepare you for this. Concentrate on needs of the organization that you can fill.
SAMPLE QUESTIONS TO ASK THE INTERVIEWER:
What would be my responsibilities/duties?
What do you see as the biggest challenge to someone in this position?
What qualifications would your ideal candidate have?
How much travel, if any, is involved with this position?
What kind of training will I have?
What changes do you see for this department/organization in the next few years?
How did you come to work at xyz?
What not to ask: how much vacation, what are the benefits, is graduate school tuition reimbursed, etc. Wait until you receive a job offer before asking these questions.