Before the Interview:
- Research the company, organization, or agency with whom you will be interviewing.
- Learn about the history, mission, organizational structure, philosophy, and position descriptions within the organization.
- Prepare for Interview Questions.
- Study possible interview questions and think about how you will answer them. Be comfortable with your responses; try not to sound rehearsed.
- Think about your qualifications. Be sure you can verbalize them to a potential Employer.
- Practice your communication skills.
- Plan for travel if necessary.
- If you are traveling to a local interview, make sure you know how to get there. Drive to the building the day before your interview if possible.
- If you are traveling out of town for an interview, make sure you clarify with the employer before your trip who will be responsible for travel costs.
INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWINGWhat is the Purpose
- Gather information about occupation or an industry.
- Learn more about a career that you might like to do (education, skills, experience required, challenge etc.).
- Clarify and confirm your career choice.
- Build confidence for future job interviews.
- Make contacts and expand professional network.
- Discover employment opportunities that are not advertised.
- People you already know (friends, relatives, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors, advisors, or neighbors).
- Professional and Trade organizations (Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau etc.).
- Others (Yellow Pages, Organizational Directories, Trade Journals, Newspapers, Employer Directories, public speakers etc.)
- Winston-Salem State University Alumni.
How to set it up
A letter followed by a phone call. Here is a sample letter:
March 27th, 2002
Mr. Joe Right
RIGHT, RIGHT, and SONS
123 Right Avenue, Suite 123
Winston-Salem, NC 27110
Dear Mr. Right:
I am currently a senior at Winston-Salem State University. In the fall, I will begin studying at the WSSU School of Law. Labor law has been of interest to me since I took a class in the subject as an undergraduate and I plan on my area of concentration being in this field of study.
Your practice has an outstanding reputation in this field, and I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to briefly discuss your specialty area. I am especially interested in your view regarding public vs. private employment experience. Any further insights you have would be greatly appreciated.
I will contact your office the week of April 3rd to set a mutually convenient time for this informational interview.
Anthony X. Best Jr.
Phone call: Here is a sample script:
"Hello, my name is ____________ and I am a student at Winston-Salem State University. (Name of the person of place) referred me to you. I am trying to determine my future career direction and I am interested in the field in which you work. Would you be willing to spare 20 to 30 minutes to meet with me and discuss your current position?" (Be prepared to suggest days and times to meet.)
- Through someone who knows the person you want to meet.
- What should you do if they decline?
How to prepare
How to dress and behave:
- Dress as if you were going to a job interview.
- Bring a notebook and prepared questions.
- Be punctual, polite, and professional.
- Stay specific and stay on track.
- Express interest, listen attentively, show enthusiasm and appreciation.
- Company literature (available at the Career Center and Chamber of Commerce).
- Articles in business magazines.
- How did you get started in this field?
- What training or education is required for this type of work?
- What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful?
- How do people find out about job openings in your occupation?
- How did you get this position? What are common career paths?
- What types of training do companies offer persons entering this field?
- Are there internship or volunteer opportunities?
- What are typical hiring procedures?
- What areas of knowledge are most important for advancement in this field?
- What degrees? Certification?
- If you were starting out again, would you do anything differently?
- What do you do on a typical day in this position?
- What are your alternative career paths?
- How many people do you supervise and to whom do you report?
- What part of this job do you find the most challenging or satisfying?
- What are the positive/negative aspects of working in this field?
- What are the "hot issues" in this field?
- How many hours do you typically work each week? Do you often work in the evenings or weekends? Can you arrange your own hours?
- What is a typical starting salary? Average salary? Other benefits?
- What are some of the rewards of your occupation?
- What are the geographic restrictions in this field? How much are you required to travel?
- Please tell me more about your organization and it's purposes.
- How was your organization founded?
- What is unique about your organization?
- What is your job security within this organization?
- Would you rather work for a smaller or a larger company? Why?
- Is there a demand for people in this occupation?
- What are the problems you see working in this field?
- How does your job fit into the organization or department?
- What is the "corporate culture" here, i.e. is it formal, informal, do people work autonomously, does everyone come early, stay late?
- What are the toughest challenges you face in the organization?
- How would you evaluate the future of this career field? How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future? What areas do you feel promise the most opportunity? The most growth?
- What opportunities for advancement are there in this field? How will this job change over the next 5 years? 10 years?
- Is your organization expanding, shrinking or maintaining? Who are the competitors in this field?
- What special advice would you give a person entering in this field?
- What, if anything, do you wish you had known before you entered this occupation?
- What are the professional journals in this field that I should read?
- What strategy would you suggest for a person to break into this field?
- Can you suggest anyone else whom I could contact for additional information?
- Who do you know that I should talk to next? When I call him/her may I use your name?
- If I wanted to apply for a job, whom should I contact in this organization? What is the long-term/short-term outlook for hiring?
- Is most of the hiring done on an external or internal basis?
The follow up Assess the interview:
- Did you get the information you needed?
- How do you feel about this occupation?
- Did you get an objective opinion?
Make notes: Immediately after the interview, record any information you could need in the future.
- Keep records of all people you meet (take business cards, names and addresses or contact information).
- Follow-up with future notes or phone calls to let them know their help has been of service and how you are doing in your career exploration. This will further remind them of you and encourage them to let you know of future opportunities.
- Write a thank you letter/note (within 24 hours after the interview).
GENERAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?
- Why did you choose the career in which you are planning?
- What led you to chose your field of study?
- Do you think your grades are a good indication of your academic achievements?
- What are your long-range career objectives?
- What do you really want to do in life?
- How do you plan to achieve your career goals?
- How would someone who knows you well describe you?
- What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
- What do you think it takes to be successful in a company like ours?
- Describe your most rewarding college experience.
- Why did you select your college or university?
- What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
- In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?
- How well do you work under pressure?
- What do you know about our company?
- Tell me about the most difficult experience you've faced and how you handled it.
- Why should we hire you?
- Do you have any questions for me?
BEHAVIORAL BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Many interviewers are beginning to use behavioral interviewing techniques while giving interviews. The idea is that an individual will do at least as well on the new job as he or she has done in the past; that past behavior or performance is a predictor of future behavior or performance.
How does Behavioral Based Interviewing work?
The interviewer identifies desired skills or behaviors, then structures open-ended questions and statements to elicit detailed responses. A rating system is developed and selected criteria are evaluated during the interview process.
Targeted Behavioral Questions:
- Sometimes it's easy to get in "over your head". Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on a project or assignment.
- Give an example of how you applied knowledge from previous coursework to a project in another class.
- Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
- Describe a situation in which you found that your results were not up to your professor/supervisor's expectations. What happened? What action did you take?
- Tell me about the most difficult customer service experience that you have ever had to handle-perhaps an angry or irate customer. Be specific and tell what you did and what the outcome was.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision, and how did you arrive at that decision?
QUESTIONS TO ASK AN INTERVIEWER
- Why is this position vacant?
- What are the major responsibilities of this position?
- Describe the ideal candidate for this position.
- Who would be my supervisor and what is that person's supervisory style?
- What do you see as the key issues/problems facing the person in this job?
- How would you describe a typical student/client in this school/company?
- What do you like most about your job and this organization?
- Has your organization been affected by government budget cuts?
- What is the time line for filling this position?
- What characteristics do the achievers in this company seem to share?
- What kind of assignments might I expect the first six months on the job?
- How do you feel about creativity and individuality?
- What is the single largest problem facing your staff or department now?
- How often are reviews given?
- Do you fill positions from the outside or promote from within first?
- To what positions would I be likely to progress?
- What improvements would you like to see in these areas?
- How would you describe the organizational culture?
|____ Know your skills and abilities|
|____ Know your career goals|
|____ Research the company or organization through print and electronic resources|
|____ Have a resume with you, which highlights your experience and skills|
|____ If the organization has a standard application, complete it before you arrive|
|____ Know about your field of interest - openings, salary ranges, possible job, and hot topics|
|____ GO THROUGH A MOCK INTERVIEW|
For the Big Day:
|____ Dress appropriately; professional dress is a must|
|____ Make arrangements for transportation necessary to get you to the interview on time|
|____ Arrive ten minutes early for the interview|
|____ Know the interviewer's name|
|____ Do not take friends, parents or children with you to an interview or to a job fair|
|____ Be prepared to state your qualifications briefly and intelligently|
|____ Introduce yourself; shake hands (firmly, but not bone crushing!!)|
|____ Smile and look directly at your interviewer(s)|
|____ Be a good listener; don't dominate the interview|
|____ Answer all questions briefly and intelligently|
|____ Ask questions about the job to show your interest - and your willingness to contribute|
|____ Make sure that you present skills and accomplishments that relate to the job|
|____ Be sincere and honest|
|____ Salary questions are tricky. Know your ranges and keep fringe benefits in mind|
|____ Leave family or personal problems at home|
|____ Do not be critical of former employers or coworkers|
|____ Thank the person for their time and consideration and ask for a business card|
After the Interview:
|____ Make each interview a learning experience; how could you improve your next interview?|
|____ Make note of questions that were difficult for you to answer|
|____ What points do you need to stress more?|
|____ SEND A THANK YOU LETTER!|