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).
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
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.
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
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:
- 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 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
- 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
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.
- 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?
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.
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!
|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.
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.
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.
|TEACHING PLANNING/ PREPARATION||
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT/ DISCIPLINE
STAFF RAPPORT/ RELATIONSHIPS
CLOSING COMMENTS/ QUESTIONS
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!