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The interview is one of the most important parts of your job/internship search. It will usually be the employer’s first chance to form an impression of you. Likewise, it is your opportunity to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job/internship. The employer wants to learn about you, your experience and qualifications. You will want to learn about the organization, the job opening and the duties/responsibilities of the job/internship. PREPARATION and PRACTICE are the keys to a successful interview. Preparation encompasses knowing yourself and your skills as well as an understanding of the position and the organization/employer.
Regardless of the format (phone/video or in-person, one-on-one or panel), most interviews take place in this common sequence:
|Information:||This includes introductions and a few minutes of small talk to set the tone of the conversation
to follow. Often includes a brief summary of organization and position.
|Qualifications:||Questions and answers about your qualifications for the position.|
|Conclusions:||Explanation of the next steps in the selection process.|
Visit Interview Tips for concise information about making a first impression, image tips and 10 ways to stand out as a candidate. The interview “Do’s and Don’ts and list of sample questions will help you prepare.
Behavior-based interviewing or situational interviewing is one of today’s most commonly used interview techniques. It's based on the idea that your past performance is the best predictor of your future performance. In other words, how you behaved or performed in past situations/activities will help the interviewer decide how you will mostly likely perform in a new position.
When you're asked behavior-based interview questions, you're asked to describe specific situations in which you've displayed the skills, abilities and personal traits sought by the employer.
The interviewer will ask you to describe a time when you demonstrated a specific behavior (for example, leadership, communications skills, teamwork, etc). The interviewer might say "Tell me about a time you contributed to a team's success, what was your part/plan and what was the result of your efforts."
In response, you'll describe a relevant experience you had in a job, internship, class project, volunteer activity, team, or similar. To answer these questions successfully, you'll need to:
Your examples will basically be brief stories. Give each story a beginning, middle, and end. To help you do that, prepare stories that follow the STAR Technique.
|S - Situation: Briefly set up the situation by describing the context of your example (who, what, where, when, how).|
|T - Task: Explain the task you had to complete, or the problem you had to solve.|
|A - Action: Describe the actions you took to complete the task or solve the problem.|
|R - Result: Close by explaining the result of your efforts. Quantify that outcome where appropriate. (Examples: how much money you raised for a cause, how many students you tutored, how many people you helped to train, etc.)|
|"Tell me about a specific project that required you track
small details while still managing the big picture."
|Situation||I worked as a Peer Advisor at Northwest during my junior year. I was responsible for helping 30 incoming freshmen in their adjustment to college life. Peer Advisors work in conjunction with the faculty to help students have the skills and resources to be successful in their college experience.|
|Task||I was asked by my supervising faculty to develop a new presentation about time management and learning skills. To do this, I worked with a fellow Peer Advisor to create new materials, and a follow-up assessment. My goal was to ensure the new students received all the information they'd need to be effective in their first year.|
|Action||I identified and worked on materials needed, created a schedule, identified and contacted appropriate speakers, and created fun and interactive training activities.|
|Result||In the end, the presentation was a solid success. It was well-organized and stayed on schedule. The feedback from the students was very good, and all students reported that it was informative and fun.|
|"Tell me about a time you failed."|
|Situation||My first semester in college I earned a grade that I was disappointed with in my History class.|
|Task||I am very committed to excellence and set a goal for myself to earn an A on the next exam. My understanding of the material was even more important than my grades, so I resolved to comprehend the information.|
|Action||I began to review my notes on a daily basis and used timelines or charts to organize the information. I met with the professor to communicate my commitments to his class and identify if he had any additional suggestions. I created flashcards for myself and formed a study group the week before the exam. We each identified possible exam questions and then pooled them together to create a practice test.|
|Result||I earned an A on my next exam and in the class. More importantly, I learned how to teach myself, manage my time, and be persistent. The experience also cultivated a sense of empathy for students who are failing and about to give up. Since that time, I have been satisfied with my academic achievement and, have made the Dean's list every semester.|
As you read through these sample questions consider how you would answer them. Be familiar with the skills and qualities interviewers commonly look for in candidates.
An informational interview is a highly focused meeting with someone to gain a better understanding of a career, industry or occupation of interest to you. You are the interviewer so be ready to take the lead. Research the person and their organization in your preparation of potential questions. Beyond the advantages of gaining valuable career information, the informational interview provides the opportunity to build self-confidence, improve your ability to handle a job interview and build your professional network.
Interview the Interviewer
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