Interviewing


How Employers Evaluate Your Interview

During an interview, employers evaluate the following:

  • Your verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • Your self-confidence and interpersonal skills
  • Your problem solving and creative abilities
  • Your accomplishments – a pattern of success
  • Your short and long term goals
  • Your ethics and values
  • Your skill match with job requirements

Interview Structure

Much of how your interview will be structured is based on the job requirements, the organization’s philosophy, the work environment, and the interviewer’s personality. The following are some of the most widely used interview techniques.

A) Question and Answer

This is the most popular interview technique. Basically, an employer asks similar questions of each candidate and subsequently compares and distinguishes the candidates from one another.

B) Behavioral-Event

The behavioral event interview is currently popular with many employers. This approach to interviewing is based on the premise that past behavior is a likely predictor of future behavior. During behavioral event interviews, each question will probe more deeply to reveal details on your approach to past situations and the results of your efforts. A typical line of questioning in this interview type might be: “Tell me about a time when others resisted an idea or procedure you introduced.” What challenges did you face? How did you gain support? What happened next? What results did you achieve?

CSPD recommends that you use the “star” technique to demonstrate your behavior.

S = Situation – Use a story technique to make a brief statement about the situation.
T = Task – Explain the tasks to be accomplished.
A = Actions – Explain the actions you took.
R = Results – Detail the outcomes of your initiatives

C) Case-Approach

Employers use the case method to pose a problem relevant to their business. In this method, the candidate is asked to propose logical steps to address a situation. Many management consulting firms use this approach to introduce you to the type of problems consultants encounter daily. The case approach is used to assess your organizational, analytical, and problem-solving approach in unfamiliar situations.

Sample case questions are in the sample questions section.


Interview Format

You may be interviewed using one or a combination of the following formats:

A) The One-on-One Interview

One employer representative conducts an interview with you.

B) The Panel or Group Interview

Two or more employer representatives interview you alone or in a group with other applicants.

C) The Telephone Interview

Candidates should pay special attention to verbal presentation during a telephone interview. Schedule the call in a quiet room free of interruption. Take notes and have your resume with you. Some candidates prefer to stand during the interview. Be aware that a seemingly casual phone conversation with an employer is often a screening interview.

D) The Observation Interview

In the observation interview you are evaluated while conducting a presentation or performing a task. This format may be used when interpersonal and group influence skills are important job factors.

E) The Video interview

This format is cost-efficient for employers who are located in a distant city. The interview can take place on or off campus, using videoconferencing equipment or a camera mounted PC linked to a special telephone line. Candidates should wear solid dark clothing and focus on the interviewer’s image. Avoid quick movements and be sure to speak clearly. Applicants may wish to keep a resume placed in front of them for reference.


The Four Steps

Step One – Prepare

 

  • Know yourself, know the employer, know the position
  • Obtain a detailed job description if possible

Based on your research of the organization and understanding of the position, you should be able to discuss the following:

  • Business direction & goals
  • Business philosophy and style of management
  • Competitive stance and market growth projections
  • Career paths/career enhancements
  • The position
  • The organization

Step Two – Practice

Interviewers often form opinions quickly. From the moment you meet the interviewer, you make an impression with your verbal and non-verbal communication. Analyze and improve your communication skills:

  • Check the tone of your voice
  • Use good language, grammar and diction
  • Develop a firm handshake and maintain eye contact
  • Work to eliminate nervous mannerisms
  • Dress appropriately and professionally (more on this later)
  • Become comfortable talking about yourself
  • Practice well thought-out answers
  • Rehearse your responses
  • Practice in front of a mirror, with a friend, and with a tape recorder
  • Schedule a mock interview with CSPD
  • Restate long or complex questions for clarity before you answer
  • Take time to think before you answer. Short pauses are acceptable
  • Generate answers that are neither too long (over two minutes) nor too short (under fifteen seconds)

Step Three – Perform

During your interview your primary objective is to stress what you can do to meet the needs and goals of the employer.

  • Focus on skills that relate to the position
  • Demonstrate your enthusiasm and self-confidence
  • Relax and smile
  • Think before you answer a question
  • Watch for clues that the interviewer is mentally with you

Step Four – Follow-up

  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time
  • Follow up with a thank you note
  • Make sure you understand the employer’s timing and process for filling the job
  • Realize that activities and decisions may be delayed during holiday and prime vacation periods
  • If you receive a rejection, follow up with a letter expressing interest in future positions for which you may qualify

What do I wear?

Unless the company indicates otherwise, you probably already know that you should wear a suit.

Women

Recruiters from across industries agree that a candidate can’t go wrong with a well-tailored suit in a neutral color such as navy, black or charcoal gray. The most conservative companies such as investment banks and consulting firms advise that a woman should wear a skirt suit, nude hose and leather pumps. Other firms advise that a tasteful pantsuit with medium heeled leather shoes is an acceptable look for a professional. A silk or fine-gauge wool sweater can replace a blouse, and will remain wrinkle free under a suit. Minimal makeup and non-flashy jewelry are the order of the day.

Men

For men, a single-breasted suit in a dark, neutral color, white or blue dress shirt, and silk tie in a conservative pattern will suffice for most interviews. Choose natural fabrics such as wool or cotton and make sure your suit is tailored to fit. Choose well-polished, black, leather shoes and be sure your socks (dark-colored) will not sag around your ankles.

Additional Information

  • Save perfume/cologne for another time or use sparingly
  • Clean, well manicured nails are an absolute must

Much of what you decide to wear depends on the position you seek, the industry in which you are searching, and what you want to project. If you are uncomfortable in your interview outfit, it might be time to consider whether you truly fit the job profile.

Stop by the CSPD if you have any questions about the conventional wisdom of dressing for interviews. We are here to help you!


Visiting the Interview Site

Whether your interview is out of town or local, you should prepare for the on-site visit. Bring a portfolio or briefcase. Avoid carrying file folders or backpacks.

Local Interview / Site Interview

Many recruiters will send you an itinerary of the events scheduled for the day. If you don’t receive any information from the employers, call them prior to your visit to confirm all arrangements.

Out of Town Interview

Travel Tips:

  • Determine who is responsible for making travel arrangements
  • Before you leave for the trip, confirm transportation arrangements to/from airport, hotel, and company
  • Have hotel and taxi/shuttle name, phone number and address with you
  • Have cash ready for the taxi, parking and emergencies
  • Do not check-in your luggage at the airport or train station
  • If it’s a day trip, travel in your suit and carry your suit jacket, or go business casual if you have time to change before the interview
  • Regardless of the situation or time of travel, dress appropriately. You never know whom you will meet or run into at the airport. Be courteous to ALL PERSONS you encounter during your trip.

Hotel Reminders

  • If it’s an overnight trip, call the hotel ahead of time to determine if there is an iron you can use. If not, bring your own travel iron.
  • Be aware of check-out and check-in times at the hotel. You may need to bring your luggage when traveling to the interview site.
  • Check for messages and packages at the front desk when you check-in.
  • Keep and label all necessary receipts.
  • Avoid room service, movies, and alcoholic beverages from the in-room bar.

Dining Out During an Interview

Dining out during an interview can be a challenging experience. The Center for Student Professional Development is here to help you. Our staff is happy to review the etiquette of business dining in more detail. In the meantime, here are a few fast tips:

  • If possible, find out with whom you will be dining.
  • The host is the one who does the inviting – he or she pays for the meal.
  • Do not turn your wine glass upside down to indicate that you do not want wine. Instead, as the steward or server begins to pour wine, either place your hand over the rim as the server approaches, or simply state “no thank you.”
  • Tear your bread with your hands, into small pieces first; then butter.
  • Always wait until everyone at the table has been served before you begin to eat, unless the person who is still waiting to be served indicates that you should start.
  • Conversely, if everyone at your table has been served and you alone are waiting to be served, please indicate that they should begin to eat. Simply state, “please. . . start. “
  • Do not salt or pepper your food until you have tasted it. Some recruiters have interpreted this behavior as typical of candidates who operate with “pre-conceived” notions.

Sample Interview Questions

Technology and Social Media Questions

  • It’s 8AM, you just arrived at work and the whole computer system collapsed. You have no technology available. What do you do and how do you get on with your day?
  • What is your facebook password?  Or, please log in to your Facebook account so that I can review your profile.
  • When you see something on Facebook and other sites, such as a video requesting activism, an article about a celebrity’s recent breakup, or an inspirational quote from a famous person, do you:
    • A) Research the “claim” to see if it is legitimate before you share?
    • B) Research the claim out of curiosity whether or not you are planning to share?
    • C) Accept the claim whether you are planning to share or not, unless it seems super far-fetched?
  •  If your Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Google+ friends “like” a certain product or company or link an article they find interesting or music that they like, do you check it out to see what it’s all about, or do you not bother?
  • When you link things onto Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Google+  that you are interested in, such as articles and music, do people tend to comment and share, or do they mostly ignore it?

Traditional Questions Commonly Asked of Recent Graduates

  • Tell me a little about yourself
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Describe a time when you used data to prove a point.
  • When working with a group, do you tend to support or lead the team? Give an example of both experiences.
  • Give an example of a project for which you were responsible from initial planning stages through completion.
  • How do you develop the trust of your team members?
  • How do you build good relationships with members of your student organization?
  • Describe a time in the past when you expected to win and didn’t. What did you do? How did you react?
  • Tell me about a group project that did not work out as you had envisioned.
  • Give me an example of when you recognized you had a skill or knowledge deficiency. What did you do about it?
  • What is the biggest risk you ever took?
  • Give an example of a sacrifice or compromise you made for the advancement of a team.
  • Tell me about a disappointment and what you learned from it?
  • If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
  • What problems do you see in your school? How would you go about correcting them?

Following are typical “field related” interview questions:

Financial

  • How would you go about valuing a firm?
  • How would you value a hotel in Delaware if you had only one day to look around?

Marketing

  • If you were to introduce a product into a foreign market, what factors would you first study in that country?
  • You need more shelf space in a store. How do you convince the store manager to give it to you?

Computer Information Science

  • How would you explain relational databases if I were not computer literate?
  • Describe telecommunications protocols.

Human Resource Management

  • A company is considering expanding internationally. If its labor costs are competitive with industry standards, what Human Resource issues might influence its decision?
  • Describe the employment process in place in your past internship or current job.
  • What methods would you use to find information to answer a question that required basic minimal research?

The Recruiter’s Point of View

The job of a campus recruiter is usually not to determine which candidate should receive a job offer, but to make recommendations as to who should receive further consideration. A good recruiter has only one goal in mind during a face-to-face interview – that is to obtain the most accurate and positive information possible on you. The first impression and gut feeling of the recruiter can be powerful factors in how you are perceived and rated. Although recruiters are trained to play down the importance of these subjective evaluations, no one can deny that these evaluations definitely play a role. You are half way there if you get the basics right: dress for an interview (not a date), maintain good eye contact, demonstrate self-confidence, and develop a firm handshake.


With Job Interviews, Practice Makes Perfect

Big Interview LogoStudies have shown that the best way to improve your interview skills is through practice.

With Big Interview, you can practice with your webcam and access sample interview questions and answers and tips on how to do your best.

Please visit the CSPD Organization on Blackboard to learn how to create/access your Fox School account so you can get started with improving your interview skills.