Preparing for an Interview

Congratulations, you have been invited for an interview! This portion is probably the most significant part of the entire job search process. The goal of the interviewer is to find out if you have the skills to do the job, are motivated to be successful and have the potential to be a good fit for the organization’s culture. Additionally, this is your opportunity to ensure this position is the right fit for you.

Researching the Company

Think of a job interview as a test. You will need to do a bit of research and studying in order to feel prepared. Having knowledge about the company you are interviewing with shows that you view this opportunity as more than just a means to a paycheck.

Here are some key areas you should know about a company before sitting down for the job interview.

  • What does the company do?
  • What are the company’s values?
  • Who are the clients?
  • What’s new and noteworthy?
  • Who are the leaders?
  • Who is interviewing you?

Tell me about yourself…

While this may not be the case 100% of the time, chances are the opening question of your interview will be some iteration of “tell us about yourself and why are you interested in this position?”

To best answer this question, follow this formula:

Past + Present + Future + Why = your answer to “tell us about yourself and why are you interested in this position”

Example: Growing up in a small town, I quickly realized the important role social services play within a community which is why I decided to major in social work. I’ll be graduating this May with my BSW and I’m looking for an opportunity to utilize my skills and passions while serving the greater good. After seeing this position opening (be specific and include the title of the position), I felt connected to this role and the mission of your organization and knew I needed to apply.

Dressing for Success

Making a good first impression is imperative during the job search process and dressing for success plays a big role. If you find yourself questioning what to wear to an interview, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you must look professional and polished.

A few extra tips

  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
  • Introduce yourself to the individual who greets you at the door with your name, why you are there and who you will be meeting with.
  • Sit quietly and avoid using your phone while you wait for the interview to begin.
  • If you’re comfortable doing so, bring a padfolio with a notebook and a few copies of your resume and cover letter. Use the notebook to jot down names of those conducting the interview, questions you have for them and any additional notes you would like to remember.
  • Most important, remember to be yourself.

Looking to polish your interview skills? Contact the Career Development Center to set up an appointment today!

If you’re like many of us, you may struggle giving concise answers to interview questions. You may be unsure how to share your experiences and accomplishments during an interview without sounding arrogant or maybe you have a tendency to ramble through your answers.

The STAR technique provides a concise and thorough framework for organizing responses to behavioral interview questions. Practice your responses to typical interview questions by using this technique to share your stories clearly and precisely directed to the interviewer’s questions.

  • Situation – Describe the event or situation that you were in.
  • Task – Explain the task you had to complete.
  • Action – Describe the specific actions you took to complete the task.
  • Result – Close with the result of you efforts.

While you will never be able to anticipate every question you may be asked in an interview, there are a number of questions that seem more common than others. Most questions will be open ended and will focus on situations or behaviors. Common themes often include analytical, problem-solving and decision-making skills; leadership experience; creativity; and ability to work in a team.

Sample Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about yourself and why you’re interested in the position?
  2. What role do you typically take on when working in a team?
  3. How do you evaluate success?
  4. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
  5. What are you passionate about?
  6. What do you expect from a supervisor?
  7. What class have you enjoyed the most so far at MSUM and why?
  8. Describe the difference between good and exceptional.
  9. What would your current or previous co-workers say about you?
  10. What strong or unique skills could you bring to our company?
  11. What is the most important aspect of leadership?
  12. Tell me about something you are involved in on campus or in the community and what you have gained from that experience.
  13. How do you take direction or criticism?
  14. Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
  15. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  16. How do you spend your free time?
  17. What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
  18. Tell me about your favorite course you’ve taken thus far.
  19. When faced with an important decision, what strategy do you use to make the decision?
  20. Define success.
  21. Why should we hire you?

Sample Questions to Ask the Interviewer

  1. How will my work objectives be determined?
  2. Can you tell me a little bit about the training associated with this position?
  3. As an employee, what kind of projects will I receive?
  4. What characteristics best describe individuals who are successful in this position?
  5. How is job performance evaluated?
  6. How would you describe the culture of your organization?
  7. What is a typical work week for a (position) in your company?
  8. Does your organization encourage its employees to pursue additional education? Service opportunities?
  9. What other positions/departments will I interact with the most?
  10. Describe the three top challenges that I’ll face in this job.
  11. What has to happen for you to know you’ve hired the best person?
  12. What are the key deliverables and outcomes that this position must achieve?
  13. Describe the top three initiatives for your company/department and how this position is linked to these initiatives.
  14. What are the key metrics for measuring success in this position?
  15. How will (insert current event here) impact this industry/company?

Following up with the individual(s) who conducted your interview is critical. A thank you note or email restating your interest in the position you applied for should be sent within 48 hours of your interview. Before leaving your interview, be sure to ask for a business card or contact information for each person you met with.

Sample Thank you Note

Dear (person you met with),

It was a pleasure meeting with you to discuss the Social Worker position with XYZ Organization. I especially appreciated the time we spent talking about ….

If given the opportunity, I am confident I would be a valuable member of your organization. Thank you for the time you took to interview me. I look forward to hearing from you about this position.

Joe D. Dragon

It is encouraged to not take any further action until at least one week beyond the date that interviewer said they would contact you about the position. If at that time you are still interested in the opportunity, a phone call to see if a decision has been make is appropriate.