The Offices of Career Services has information detailing employment interviews. Additional information on interviewing may be found under Helpful Websites.
If you would like to schedule a mock interview, please contact our office for an appointment.
The key to promoting yourself in the interview involves preparation. It is a myth that you can "just wing it" in an interview and attract a good job offer. Set an agenda of key points that you want the interviewer to know about you, and energetically articulate these points in the interview. Provide the interviewer with compelling reasons to select you over other candidates.
Research the job or position being interviewed for. Determine the skills required.
Know your own interests, skills and values. A common concern of employers is that many students do not know themselves nor how their past experiences demonstrate the interests, skills, or motivation employers seek.
Be prepared to show employers how your abilities match their needs. Dip into all of your background; volunteer experiences, educational background, etc.
Identify three to five top selling points - attributes that set you apart from other candidates - and be sure you get the chance to point them out in the interview. Develop and rehearse concise examples about how you used your skills, each illustrating a specific activity or task required by the job.
Rehearse answers to basic questions. Be prepared to provide examples of occasions when results were different than expected. Your skill in handling failure as well as success may be probed. Be prepared for questions asking for more detail than you've already given. Be prepared for surprises.
Practice, Practice, Practice!--hide text--
Don't underestimate transferable skills! Even if your past experience does not seem to be directly relevant to a position that you are applying for, do not assume that you will not be able to use the skills that you have gained.
Consider, for example, that you are interested in a job at a bank. You are wondering about how to market the three summers that you spent working at a fast food restaurant. Although the actual duties may be different, think about what skills both positions would share. For example, in your position at the fast food restaurant, you needed to address the needs of all kinds of customers. Your communication needed to be effective and pleasant. You needed to work under pressure and ensure that all of the details needed to complete an order were addressed. You handled money and worked as part of a team of employees. These are skills that are transferable to the position at the bank.
These skills are then combined with other experiences, course work, and activities to assist you in marketing yourself as a successful candidate.--hide text--
The "presence" you project is a product of the way you dress, speak, act and "carry yourself." A positive initial impression will serve you well throughout the interview. Conversely, a negative first impression is almost impossible to overcome (in spite of good qualifications), since hiring decisions are often made within the first ten minutes of an interview.
As already mentioned, you are to be an active participant in the interview - not a passive respondent to questions. Setting an agenda of key points you want highlighted in the interview helps you to become an active participant. With a set agenda, you become less self-conscious and look for opportunities to get across your points. Present your qualifications in terms of the interests, skills, and values which parallel the qualifications the employer seeks.
Have questions for the interviewer. However, don't ask questions that could be answered by company literature or through basic research. Ask questions to gain information that you are sincerely seeking.
By being an active listener during the interview, you may come up with questions you hadn't thought about prior to the interview: questions about the work environment; what motivates the interviewer in working for company X; what the track records of previous hires have been, etc.
Don't ask about fringe benefits, vacations, or salary until you have a firm offer. The exception is when you must expend extensive time, effort and money to attend a job interview and you need to know if it is worth your or their time and expense. In this case it is acceptable to ask the human resources department for a salary range and general benefits information.--hide text--
Be sure to immediately follow-up any interview you have with a thank you letter. This courtesy projects your professional image, and allows you the opportunity to summarize your interview remarks. You may also use this letter to add comments that were not discussed in the interview.
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Contact Career Services
Career Services Specialist
724.287.8711 Ext. 8310
Career & Academic Counselor
724.287.8711 Ext. 8264
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