The interview is an opportunity to demonstrate to an employer your qualifications and to market yourself for a particular position. The employer is using this opportunity to assess your qualifications and how you will perform in a particular position – your skills, experience, personal characteristics and career goals are some of the areas that will be considered. Clearly, what you say (or fail to say), is important and will largely determine whether you will be considered for the position. Therefore, taking time to prepare for the interview is necessary.
This tip-sheet is provided to give you some essential information, however it is not meant to explain all there is to know about the interviewing process. You are encouraged to schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor to discuss preparing for your upcoming interview(s) and to gain practice through a Mock Interview.
Before the Interview:
- Be prepared to talk about yourself. Identify your skills, interests, goals and values. Assess your strengths and be able to back them up with specific examples.
- Many employers ask “behavioral” questions – they want to see what actions you took in past situations, since performance potential may be based on past experience.
- Research the organization–you will be expected to be able to tell an employer why you want to work for their organization, position(s) you are interested and qualified for, and how your abilities match their needs.
- You should know the organizations’ size, location(s), services and products. This information is easily accessible through the Internet, as well as corporate literature and directories found in libraries.
- Professional dress and a neat appearance are essential in creating positive impressions.
- Prepare a few good questions for the interviewer; avoid asking about salary and benefits in the first interview.
- Set an appointment for a Mock Interview with a Career Development staff member.
- Review your resume and a list of your positive qualities just before the interview. Bring extra copies of your resume to the interview.
During the Interview:
- Keep in mind that with interviewing, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Employers form a first impression during the first few moments of the interview.
- Arriving a few minutes early will give you a chance to gain composure during the interview.
- Do not smoke, chew gum or be too casual in your dress or manner. Turn off cell phones.
- Remember that enthusiasm is a very desirable trait to convey – both verbally and non-verbally.
- Take time to listen to the interviewer’s questions, in order to give an appropriate response.
- Maintain good eye contact with the interviewer and try to be relaxed and confident.
- Respond to questions with positive points. Use every opportunity to market your skills and abilities.
- Most employers will want to know what questions you have. Developing questions is a part of interview preparation; your questions should reflect that you are interested, intelligent, and thorough.
- You should prepare questions about the organization, the position and the work environment. Visiting the website may generate ideas for questions. Avoid asking questions about salary or benefits.
- As the interview ends, reiterate your interest in the position; ask what the next step will be, and when you can expect to hear. Make sure you get the interviewer’s business card.
After the Interview:
- Write a thank you note to the interviewer and email or send a typed note by mail. Include any important omissions, and reiterate your strengths and enthusiasm for the position. If you have interviewed with several people, you can send a note to the person leading the search and mention other colleagues involved.
- Be sure to provide any requested information (transcripts, references) as soon as possible.
- Keep a log containing all the important information, any advice you were given and your impressions, and review this prior to a second interview.
- Follow up with the interviewer by phone if you have not been notified of a decision within a reasonable time (i.e.: two to three weeks after the interview).
A Sampling of Interview Questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why did you decide to attend Iona College and how has your education prepared you for a career in __________?
- Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
- In what ways do you expect you can make a contribution to our organization?
- Describe your most rewarding college (or work) experience.
- How do you take initiative? Set priorities and goals?
- Tell me about two accomplishments, which have given you the most satisfaction.
- What have your learned from your involvement in extracurricular activities?
- Can you tell me about a time you assumed a leadership position? What were the results?
- What major problem have you encountered? How did you resolve it?
- Give me an example of how you have demonstrated teamwork.
Questions you may ask the Interviewer :
- What are you looking for in the person you hire for this position?
- Would you please describe a typical day (or week) and the typical things I would be doing?
- How will my performance be evaluated, and how often?
- How would you differentiate your organization from your major competitors?
- What do you consider the major challenges facing your industry/field (or organization) today?