Interview Preparation

Interview Preparation | Practice with Big Interview

Before the Interview | During the Interview | After the Interview

Interview Preparation NACE's Job Choices magazine

The interview is the last - and most important - step of the hiring process. It offers both you and the employer the opportunity to meet, exchange information, and come to tentative conclusions about "hiring" one another. The interview is a two-way process. You evaluate employers while they evaluate you.

So you got the call...

Be ready at all times to take a call regarding an interview! When a recruiter contacts you, they will want to set up a location, date and time for the interview. You should take this opportunity to find out the following information:

  • Length and format of the interview. Most interviews will be 30-60 minutes, but some will be longer.
  • Name(s) and title(s) of your interviewer(s).
  • Driving and parking directions.
  • Materials they would like you to bring (if any).

SCHEDULE A PRACTICE INTERVIEW
What better way is there to prepare for an interview than by practicing your responses to typical interview questions with a CDO counselor? This is a great way to try out your answers in a non-threatening environment. Counselors will provide feedback, and give you some pointers on ways to improve, if necessary. If you wish, we will videotape your session, so you will have accurate feedback on your non-verbal presentation skills.

GET STARTED NOW! Schedule an appointment for a mock interview.
Have a webcam? Practice at home with BigInterview (webcams can be signed out at the CDO).

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    PREPARATION ADVICE FROM FREDONIA RECRUITERS AND STUDENTS

    When the CDO hosts employer interviews, we ask the recruiters and candidates for advice to share with future applicants. They overwhelmingly agree on the following keys to successful interviewing:

    1) Know yourself - Know your resume inside and out. Be able to discuss your qualifications, skills, abilities, and personal goals and values. Prepare specific examples of your accomplishments. Anticipate questions.

    2) Know the employer - Research the position and organization thoroughly. Learn as much as you can by visiting the organization’s website and accessing any available literature; know the employer’s services, products, and mission. Analyze the position description, and match it to your experiences, interests, and abilities. Talk with people who have worked in similar positions and research the typical salary range.

    3) Know how your skills, interests, and career goals relate to the needs of the employer - Show you are a good fit for the position. Make a list of questions to ask demonstrating a genuine interest in and knowledge of the position and organization. This may reveal your level of interest in the position/employer and your preparedness for the interview.

    4) Relax and project confidence - It may seem easier said than done, but the two go hand in hand. Show that you know the value of your experiences and skills, and that you can and want to learn even more. Demonstrate that you can remain poised and relaxed in what can be a stressful situation.

    5) Ask good questions - At the end of the interview you will have a chance to ask questions. The questions you ask will tell the employer a great deal about you, your goals, your level of interest in the organization and job, and your readiness for the position.


    Researching Employers:

    While candidates really ought to research employers before applying, they should definitely research the organization thoroughly prior to an interview. Doing this research will help you identify why the organization is of interest to you, and also help you choose which questions you want to ask. It will give you a better sense of what distinguishes organizations from one another. Here is a brief checklist to help you do a thorough job:

    Visit the company website and look for:

    • “About Us” - often a brief history or description of the company.
    • “Employment/Careers” - full job listings and instructions for applying.
    • “Services” - usually a list of all services provided.
    • “Contact Us” - full contact information sometimes including a map with directions.

    Go to LinkedIn and look for:

    • Fredonia alumni who work there.
    • The contact person for recruiting in human resources.
    • Recent company posts and news.

    Go to “Google” and search the company’s name. This will give you recent news articles, mentions in business journals, and other information that might be of interest and use.


    Professional Dress:

    Different professions may have different expectations for what constitutes professional dress at work, but for an interview, it’s always better to dress more professionally (and conservatively) than what might be necessary on the job. This will make a great first impression and demonstrate that you’re taking the opportunity seriously. The following are general guidelines for dressing appropriately for interviews, but different career fields may be more or less conservative so do your research.

    Do's

    • Professional dark business suit (e.g., black, dark blue, gray).
    • Remove any labels sewn on the outside of the suit coat sleeve and the stitching on the back flap.
    • Minimal or conservative jewelry (e.g., small earrings, only one ring, small necklace, watch).
    • Solid white or neutral colored shirts, long sleeved, are preferred.
    • Conservative ties (e.g., solid or small neat patterns); ties should meet the belt buckle.
    • Wear plain style or natural color hosiery when wearing a skirt.
    • Polished shoes that match/complement your clothes.
    • Keep makeup and jewelry subtle and conservative; accessories should be minimal and coordinated.
    • If possible, keep hair away from face; clean-shaven or facial hair neatly trimmed.
    • It is advisable for most fields to remove all piercing jewelry other than earrings, and to avoid cologne/perfume.
    • Bring a briefcase or portfolio (if needed).

    Do's

    • High hemline on skirt - should be only a few inches above the knee (anything higher looks unprofessional).
    • Low-cut shirts - dress shirts need to be buttoned up to the top or second to top button.
    • Tight or sloppy clothing that shows too much skin.
    • Leggings or other casual wear attire.
    • Open-toed shoes; shoes with a worn or run-down heel.

    Reminders and Helpful Tips

    • Smile and relax. Remember: they read your resume and already think of you as a good candidate!
    • Review your resume and work history so you are ready to speak about both.
    • Bring extra copies of your resume.
    • Maintain good eye contact and be aware of your gestures, facial expressions, posture, and hand movements.
    • Avoid using slang expressions or improper grammar.




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    DURING THE INTERVIEW

    APPROPRIATE QUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES TO ASK IN THE JOB INTERVIEW

    Toward the end of the interview you will typically be given the chance to ask some questions. Employers agree that this is a critical phase of the process! Asking good questions will leave a good impression and show your interest and enthusiasm, so carefully prepare questions beforehand. The following may serve as guidelines for questions:

    • History of position; day-to-day responsibilities
    • Typical career paths/advancement
    • Performance evaluations - type, by whom, frequency
    • Orientation and training for new employees
    • Strengths and weaknesses of organization; what interviewer likes/dislikes about the organization
    • Major challenges facing organization/field; long-range plans for organization/department
    • Organizational structure; communication channels; Management style; philosophy of organization
    • Expectations with regard to travel and/or relocation
    • Multicultural diversity and sensitivity
    • Geographical area - cost of living, housing, schools
    • Starting date; hiring process/timeline

    Don't ask:

    • About salary or benefits
    • About job pressures, overtime or morale
    • Questions that are answered in the company literature or website




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    AFTER YOUR INTERVIEW

    The Thank You Letter

    After your interview ends, take notes to remind yourself what was discussed. Write down everything you feel you handled well and areas for improvement. Note any information that may be helpful to include in your thank you letter.

    • Always get the contact information of everyone involved in the interview process (i.e., name, address, title). If you are not sure of names, ask the secretary/receptionist or ask interviewers for business cards.
    • Send a thank you letter within 24-48 hours.
    • A typed letter is considered the most professional. In many situations, an email is appropriate if the organization indicated that this is their preferred method of contact or if there is a quick turnaround time requirement to fill the position. A hand-written note is considered more personal.
    • Your letter should be brief (no longer than one page) and include the following:
      • Thank the interviewer for their time, the opportunity to interview, and the chance to learn more about the organization.
      • Reaffirm your interest and enthusiasm for the position.
      • Mention something from your interview to remind the interviewer who you are. Reiterate any important points that were discussed or that you were not able to express during your interview.
      • Describe in one or two sentences why your skills, experience, and background make you the best applicant.

      If, on the other hand, you discover that you are no longer interested in the position, it is a professional courtesy to inform the employer of your decision to withdraw from the selection process. Be sure to thank them for the opportunity to learn more about the organization, but explain that the position does not meet your goals and/or interests at this time.

      If you do not hear from the interviewer by the date that was promised, something unforeseeable may have delayed the decision-making process. It is also possible that someone else was made an offer and has asked for time to make a decision. In any case, it is appropriate to call or email the interviewer (unless candidates are asked not to do so) and inquire about the status of your candidacy.




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