Interview Preparation

Everything You Need To Know About Interviewing!Interview Stream

The employment interview is the key and crucial hurdle in the job campaign. Letters, applications, references, resumes and portfolios are designed with one goal, to secure an interview. You have built up the employer's expectations, and in the interview, your goal is to deliver. Remember that the best candidate does not always get the job - many times the person who best prepares for the interview is hired.Interview Stream

If you are headed to an interview, here are tips for a successful outcome.


Before the Interview

Preparation

  • Know the position for which you are interviewing
  • Research the history of the company prior to the interview
  • Relate your career goals to the position for which you are interviewing
  • Be ready to articulate the skills you offer the company as they pertain to the job
  • Prepare 3-6 questions to ask the interviewer about his/her company, the position, or their industry
  • Go to an Interview Skills Workshop, do a practice interview with a career counselor, or use Interview Stream - all of which are available in our office.

Day of the Interview

Appearance/Body Language

  • Dress appropriately - wear a well-fitted, neatly pressed suit.
  • Shake the interviewer's hand with confidence
  • Avoid excessive make-up or cologne
  • Maintain good eye contact
  • Never eat, drink, smoke or chew gum during the interview
  • Have fresh breath
  • Turn off your cell phone

Communication Style

  • Avoid talking negatively about other people
  • Speak clearly and concisely and use correct grammar
  • Exhibit confidence
  • Let the interviewer lead the interview and ask questions first
  • Never appear to be desperate or beg for a job
  • Be enthusiastic and smile

During the Interview

  • Answer questions completely and succinctly; don't ramble
  • Provide examples to back up general statements
  • Avoid bringing up salary and fringe benefits (those are 2nd or 3rd interview topics)
  • Express qualifications: Know three good reasons why you are an outstanding candidate and work them into your responses
  • Find a balance between listening and speaking
  • Be positive about past experiences - if you are enthusiastic about past experiences, you are likely to be positive about future employers
  • People hire, not organizations - make a connection with the interviewer; they are asking themselves, "Do I see myself working with this person?"
  • Point out why you like the organization
  • Ask questions - Reflect your self-esteem by asking questions about the organization and the job. This is another place to demonstrate that you researched the organization.
  • At the end of the interview, express your continued interest in the position and thank the interviewer for his/her time.
  • Learn what happens next - Is your file complete? Is additional information needed? Are your references complete? What are the next stages in the employment process and when might they occur? Ask them.

After the Interview

  • Send a thank you letter to your interviewer(s) reiterating your interest in the position.
  • Evaluate and assess your interview. How did you do? What questions did you have trouble with and how could you answer them in the future? A career counselor in the Career Center can help you with this process.

Sample Interview Questions

Common Interview Questions

  • How does your past work experience relate to this position?
  • How does your education relate?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Behavioral Interview Questions

With a behavioral interview question, the interviewer asks about how you dealt with a past situation that would be similar to one you would encounter in the target position.

  • Teamwork: Tell me about a time when you were on a team, and a team member was not pulling his weight.
  • Decision-Making: Give an example of a time when you had to make a difficult decision.
  • Problem solving skills: Give an example of how you identified a small problem and fixed it before it became a major one.
  • Supervision abilities: Describe a time when you had to discipline some one you were supervising.

Sample Questions YOU Could Ask

  • How would you describe the ideal candidate?
  • What are the main problems/challenges facing the person in this position?
  • What are the performance criteria? How will I be evaluated? How often? By whom?
  • What is the department's environment/culture like?
  • When will you make the hiring decision?

Common Interview Errors

  • Arriving late
  • Going off on tangents/not answering the question
  • Answers that are too long or too brief (answering "yes" or "no" is too brief an answer! Two minute responses are a good average)
  • Lack of research on the position, the organization, and your fit
  • Inability to relate career goals to the position
  • Dressing too casually
  • Lack of enthusiasm/energy
  • A limp handshake
  • Forgetting to smile and having a pleasant attitude (people skills count!)

Additional Resources

Interview Stream

If you need more assistance brushing up on your interview skills, the Career Center has many resources to help you.

Follow these tips and you are on your way to a great interview!


Sample Thank You Letter

2913 Baxter Rd. La Mirada, CA 90709 January 25, 2004

Mr. Foster Walker Senior Auditor L.A. County Auditor- Controller Division 1220 Warwick Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90601

Dear Mr. Walker:

I want to thank you very much for interviewing me yesterday for the accounting position at the L.A. County Auditor - Controller's Office. I enjoyed meeting you and learning more about your research and design work.

My enthusiasm for the position and my interest in working for were strengthened as a result of the interview. I think my education and internship experiences fit nicely with the job requirements, and I am sure that I could make a significant contribution to the agency over time.

I want to reiterate my strong interest in the position and in working with you and your staff. You provide the kind of opportunity I seek. Please feel free to contact me at 818/685-5555 or r-ramirez@aol.com if I can provide you with any additional information.

Again, thank you for the interview and your consideration.

Sincerely,

Richard Ramirez