Interviewing is a skill that must be developed and fine-tuned.

The purpose of an interview is to take what is written on your resume and cover letter and personalize that information through a conversation. During this process the hiring organization and potential employee both have an opportunity to explore whether or not a fit exists. Career Services can help with interview prep!
Schedule an appointment with Career Services to set up mock interviews and practice interviewing techniques, or practice your interview skills online with Big Interview (you will need your University email).

The Interview

Before the Interview

Know yourself, think about...

  • Your skills, interests, values; consider your strengths and weaknesses
  • Decisions that you made, the thought behind them and results
  • Accomplishments and things you might have done differently
  • Examples to demonstrate how you have developed your skills
  • Why you are interested in this field
  • Your long-term goals
Research the Company

Researching the company not only helps you to be well prepared, it also sends a message to the employer that you are very interested in the position. Your research allows you to tailor your resume and cover letter to a targeted organization or position and thoroughly prepare for a specific job interview. 

One method to distinguish yourself from the other candidates is to be well informed, interested, professional, and  prepared—take the time to do your homework by researching the company. Research the company and write down a few questions that you’d want to ask; write a few notes about the company, or jot down things you’d like to bring up in your interview.

Company research does not mean that you have to learn every possible detail about the company. It does mean, however, that you select several key areas and become knowledgeable about them. Here are some areas to consider:

Size of the organization Production line or services Diversity initiatives Major competitors
Location of headquarters Geographical locations Recent news/press releases, etc. Number of plants, stores, etc.
Organizational structure History of the organization Growth pattern over the past 5 years Financial status or rating
Mission of organization Names and titles of key professionals Clients or customers Current trends in the field

Do Your Research - Avoid Employment Scams!

  • Be cautious if an online/e-mail job posting claims “no experience necessary.”
  • Be cautious of exaggerated claims of possible earnings or profits.
  • Beware when money is required up front for instructions or products.
  • Never apply for a job that is emailed to you out of the blue. Be wary when replying to unsolicited e-mails for work-at-home employment.
  • Research the employer. Do they have a reputable website or professional references? Is the job listing you want to apply for also on their main career page? Note: work-study jobs may not be advertised on employer websites.
  • Never give out personal information like your Social Security or bank account number over email or phone.
  • Trust your instincts. If a job sounds too good to be true, it is likely a scam.
Making a Positive Impression

The first 30 seconds in an interaction are crucial in making a positive first impression!

  • Give a firm handshake when meeting the interviewer, or if interviewing virtually, make eye contact and smile
  • Focus on your communication skills:
    • Written & oral
    • Listen carefully to what is being asked and answer the question directly
    • Establish and maintain eye contact throughout your interview
    • Watch your non-verbal behaviors (hand and leg movements, facial expressions, etc.)
  • Think of this as a conversation – you are both listening to and learning about each other
  • Remember to be positive and have a cooperative attitude. Organizations are seeking individuals who are flexible and easy to work with
  • Be genuine, sincere and honest
  • Convey how dependable and reliable you are
  • Highlight relevant qualifications and experiences
  • Provide as many specific examples as possible (i.e. a class project showing your initiative)
  • Show your leadership skills (be careful though, not to be abrasive)
  • Ask questions that show you have done your homework
  • Get answers to your most important questions
  • Find out when they will conduct  the next round of interviews and make their hiring decisions
  • Request a business card from your interviewer so you can follow up and send a thank you message
  • Do not discuss salary unless the recruiter brings up the subject first
  • Close the interview by summarizing your qualifications and expressing your interest in the job and the organization
Tips for Virtual Interviews

Even before COVID-19, more organizations were moving to video/virtual interviewing as a cost-saving measure. Many of the tips in the Making a Positive Impression section are still applicable, but virtual interviews also have their own nuances. Be sure to take these as seriously as any in-person interview, and prepare for it in a similar way. When you are preparing for your virtual interview, keep the following in mind:

Technology:

  • Utilize an Ethernet cable when possible, unless your WiFi is very stable
  • Know which tool the company is using; download it (if necessary) and practice with it to get comfortable before the day of the interview
  • A few hours before the interview, test everything - camera, sound, up-to-date version of the software, etc.

Set up:

  • Set your environment: no window behind you, camera at eye level, simple background, lighting, etc. 
  • Have the following ready: resume/cover letter, job description, pad of paper and pen, and references saved and ready to email 
  • Dress in neutral colors  (navy, black, dark gray) - be careful not to blend with your background!
  • Get fully dressed: make it feel like you are at the interview in person (avoid pajama pants)
  • Silence your phone and alerts on your computer to avoid distractions during the interview
  • Minimize all other programs on your computer

During:

  • Check your posture - consider the chair you sit in, avoid leaning or slouching
  • Avoid looking away from your computer or using your computer during the interview  (use the notepad to jot down questions or notes instead if taking notes on your computer)
  • Minimal hand gestures and avoid crossing arms/legs or playing with hair/touching face
  • Keep eye contact, smile, & be yourself!
  • Minimize distracting mannerisms/nervous gestures (no gum chewing)
  • If other people will be in the house where you will be interviewing, inform them of the time/day to avoid interruptions

After:
Always send a thank you message to the recruiter. It's okay to ask for the person's email address so that you forward a thank you email.

Sample Questions to Ask Employers
  • How would you describe a typical day in this position?
  • What would my responsibilities be in the first year?
  • How much travel is normally expected?
  • Why are you looking to fill this position?
  • How does one advance in the organization?
  • How often will my performance be evaluated?
  • About how many employees go through your training program each year?
  • What is the average stay in this position?
  • Outside of my department, whom will I work with?
  • How much evening or weekend work is expected?
  • How high a priority is this department within the organization ?
  • What is your experience with personnel turnover?
  • What is the organization's five and ten year goals?
  • What are the things you like least/most about working here?
  • How did you choose this organization?
  • Describe to me your career path within this organization.
  • What are you looking for in a candidate?

Interview Practice

During the interview process, the hiring organization and potential employee both have an opportunity to explore whether or not a mutual fit exists. Interviewing is a skill that must be developed and  fine-tuned.

Behavioral-Based Interviewing & the STAR Method

Employers use Behavioral Based Interviewing questions to get detailed answers during an interview to extract examples of your past behavior during actual situations. This allows you to describe your accomplishments and your behavior during these situations leading up to a result. To successfully answer a behavioral based interview question, use the STAR method (check out the video at the bottom of this page). Focus on positive outcomes, and try to give quantifiable data/numbers when possible!

Describe the  Situation
Explain the Tasks
Describe the Action
Communicate the Results (keep it positive!)

Note that many Talent Gateway challenges are behavioral based interview questions, so reviewing challenges (and your responses!) before an interview is good practice.

Example:

Recruiter: Can you give me an example of your leadership skills?

Candidate: Two years ago, I was elected Student Government president, based on my platform to increase community outreach programs. Through volunteer programs, we provided transportation to 100 elderly residents and a tutorial program for 85 elementary school students. The results were significantly improved community relations.

For more practice questions, try out Big Interview (no charge for UM-Dearborn students) or visit The Interview Guys.

Sample Interview Questions

BACKGROUND

  • Tell me about yourself. What do you consider your outstanding achievements? 
  • Give me an example of a time when you dealt with pressure? Describe a time when you used your leadership skills?

WORK EXPERIENCE

  • Explain a project you completed or tell me what you have learned from previous jobs? 
  • Do you prefer working independently or on a team? How do you organize and plan for major projects?
  • What kind of people do you like to work with? 
  • What kind of people do you find difficult to work with?
  • What would your past supervisors say about you?

CAREER GOALS

  • What do you want out of your career? 
  • What would you like to be doing five/ten years from now?
  • What are your short-term career goals? What motivates you to build a career in this field?

COLLEGE EXPERIENCE

  • Describe your most rewarding college experience and tell me why it was so rewarding?
  • Why did you choose your particular major?
  • Why did you choose to attend UM-Dearborn? Tell me about some things you learned in school that could be used on the job? Provide examples of how college has prepared you to take on greater responsibility?
  • Is your GPA indicative of your ability? Why/Why not?

COMPANY RESEARCH

  • Why are you interested in working for this company?
  • What do you know about my organization? How do you feel you'll contribute to our company?
  • As described to you, what about this position appeals to you?

PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS

  • Tell of a time when you where faced with a stressful professional situation. How did you manage it?
  • Explain a situation when you received criticism and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a time you faced an ethical dilemma.
  • What is your greatest weakness/ strength? How will you contribute to our company?
  • How will you contribute to your company?
Sample Interview Questions for Teachers

Practice makes perfect! The following questions were gathered from school hiring officials and are representative of those that you are likely to encounter in your job interviews.

MOTIVATION/ EXPERIENCE/
TEACHING

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you enter the field of teaching?
  • What experience have you had related to teaching?
  • What qualities do you have that make you an effective teacher?
  • What grade levels or subjects do you prefer to teach?
  • Have you taught or are you interested in teaching combination classes?
  • Do you have experience with special education students?
  • Why do you want to teach in our school district?
  • Do you have (multicultural, urban, learning disabilities) teaching experience?
  • What do you remember most about your own education?
TEACHING EFFECTIVENESS
  • How do you meet the range of skills and needs commonly present in a classroom?
  • When do you use an individual, group and/or whole class teaching approach?  Why?
  • Let’s imagine we are going to observe a teacher teaching a lesson.  I tell you in advance to expect a superb lesson.  What would you expect to see in that lesson?
  • If a teacher wants to be sure pupils will learn a skill to be taught, what should he/she be sure to do when teaching?
  • How do you diagnose your students’ needs?
  • How do you make sure your lessons are taught at the correct level?
  • How do you stimulate active participation in the classroom?
  • How would you use parents in the classroom?
TEACHING PLANNING/ PREPARATION
  • What kinds of planning do you see a teacher doing?
  • How do you plan for a year?  A week?  A day?
  • How do you know what you will cover?

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT/ DISCIPLINE

  • What are some characteristics of a well-managed classroom?
  • Talk to us about classroom control.
  • What discipline methods work for you?
  • What is your primary goal with student discipline?
  • What are some examples of rules you would have in your classroom?
  • How would you be sure your rules are carried out?
  • How much responsibility for their learning do you feel students should have to take?
  • Are you a "let em go to the pencil sharpener whenever they want" type of person or a "raise your hand and ask permission" type of person?
  • What types of rewards and consequences would you use?
  • Describe your most difficult student discipline situation and how you handled it.

STAFF RAPPORT/ RELATIONSHIPS

  • As a teacher new to a school, what would you see yourself doing to contribute to healthy staff relationships and to become part of the staff?
  • What should a principal expect from teachers?
  • What should teachers expect from the principal?
GRADING SYSTEM
  • What grading system works for you?
  • Under what conditions, if any, would most of your pupils receive D’s and F’s?  How and why could this happen?

CLOSING COMMENTS/ QUESTIONS

  • What additional talents and skills do you have?
  • What extracurricular activities can you supervise?
  • Do you have questions or additional comments for us?
"Tell Me About Yourself" - the 90-Second Response

This is often the first question asked by employers. Responses to this question should be geared to show an understanding of your skills and interests, and how these and your past experiences would contribute to the position and organization. Be sure to highlight:

  • academic experience
  • professional experience
  • why you are interested in the position

Spend some time writing down the experiences you wish to discuss and then practice how you want to answer the question. This is an excellent response to have ready for a Career or Job Fair!

Career Services

280 -
Fairlane Center North (FCN)
Back to top of page