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Northwest Missouri State University


Interviewing

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.

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Interviewing Information

Interview Tips

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.

Phone Interviews

Successful Phone Interview PDF

Behavior-Based Interviewing

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 likelu  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. 

How These Questions Work and How to Answer Them

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:

  • Be very familiar with the job/internship description and the skills/qualities it requires.
  • Anticipate the questions or topics you'll be asked about. (see example questions below.)
  • PRACTICE how you'll answer these questions, or what examples you'll give. Be sure your examples illustrate the skills sought for the position.
  • Use examples that are as recent as possible.
  • Avoid using examples from your personal life (like relationships, friends, family).
  • Vary your examples—don't just talk about one project or one area of your life.

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.

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.)

How to Prepare for Behavioral/Situational Interview Questions

Preparation Hints:

    • Think of and make notes about 15 or so success “stories” that illustrate your best skills, experience and assets.  Be specific.
    • Read the job description closely and highlight what you believe are the most important phrases.
    • Cross check your best “stories” with the highlighted portion of the job description to confirm that you have examples for the most important pieces of the job.
    • Practice your “stories” using the STAR method.
    • Let others help you out—use examples of quotes from bosses or customers, i.e., “My boss gave me a good performance review, he/she liked the way I showed initative to get the job done without being told.”
    • A good story sets the stage, demonstrates the appropriate skill action and has a positive outcome, showing how you solved a problem or overcame an obstacle.
    • Combine work experience with a non-work experience showing you can implement your skills in a variety of settings.

Sample Interview Question and Answer

SAMPLE QUESTION: 
"Tell me about a specific project that required you to track small details while still managing the big picture." 

STAR-BASED ANSWER:
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.

Examples of Behavior-Based Interview Questions

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.

  • Tell me about a time you solved a difficult problem that could have had significant impact.
  • Describe the most difficult decision you've made in the last 6 months.
  • Tell me about a time you took initiative to do something that needed to be done, even though it wasn't really your responsibility.
  • Describe an important goal you have achieved, and how you achieved it. Tell me about set-backs you experienced.
  • Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating your thoughts clearly to an individual or group.
  • Tell me about a time you voiced a concern or disagreement to a coworker, supervisor, or professor.
  • Tell me about a situation in which you had to collaborate with several people to achieve a goal.
  • Describe your most disappointing experience. How did you cope with it? What did you do to move beyond it?
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that required coping skills.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you convinced your supervisor or professor of an idea. How did you accomplish this and what was the result?
  • Tell me about a time when you took on a leadership role.
  • Tell me about a time you provided excellent customer service.
  • What kinds of project planning did you do in college?  Tell me about one of these projects.  What were your planning steps?  What worked and what did not work?  What was the final result of the project?
  • Tell me about a time your worked with a team member who wasn’t actively participating in the work.  How did you personally deal with this team member and what ultimately happened within this group?
  • Describe a situation from work, school or campus organizations where you demonstrated leadership qualities.
  • Give a specific example that demonstrates that you are creative.
  • Even customers have bad days.  Tell me about a difficult customer your have dealth with in the past.  What was the situation? What did you do to empathize with the customer?  What was their reaction to your approach?
  • Describe the duties and/or responsibilities from your work and/or academic experience that demonstrate your ability to do this job.
  • Tell me about a time when unforeseen problems cropped up during a project or assignment.  What was the situation?  When did you first realize there were problems?  How did you decide to handle these problems?  What was the final outcome?
  • Learning a new knowledge or skill can be challenging, even difficult.  Tell me about a challenging learning experience you have faced.  What was the situation?  What learning demands were placed on you?  What did you do?  What was the outcome?

On Campus Recruiting

Informational Interviews

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.

Videos

Interview Content

   
Interview the Interviewer
No Google Answers

Acing the Interview Pt 1Acing the Interview:
Part 1

Acing the Interview Pt 2Acing the Interview: Part 2

Dining EtiquetteDining Etiquette

Telephone InterviewTelephone Interviews

Negative QuestionsNegatively Phrased Questions

Interview Preparation

Who Am I

Preparing For An InterviewPreparing For an Interview

Preparing Questions
Preparing Questions For Your Interviewer

Interview Follow Up


Email Etiquette

Interview Follow Up

thank you noted
The Thank You Note

Interview Attire