Tips on how to ace your next interview
A good interview is a two-way exchange of information. Not only are you showcasing your best skills and strengths for the role, but you are equally getting to know if you like the employer and manager. Today’s post shares tips on how to improve your interview skills, a summary of our workshop with Graduate Career Advisor, Bob Menard.
Before the Interview:
- The invitation – when a company contacts you for an interview (either by email or by phone), make sure it is clear who you will be meeting, how many people will be on the interview panel and is there anything particular they would like you to bring with you (ex. portfolio of your work). Gather as much information about the interview environment as you can, so when you walk into the interview you’re prepared accordingly.
- What to prepare – You should bring copies of your resume (and maybe your work) to share with your interviewers. Practice sample questions they may ask based off the original job posting. Be prepared to speak to your highlighted experience, as questions about anything on your resume is fair game. To prepare your responses to potential questions, you should practice the STAR method described below.
- How to dress – When choosing what to wear to your interview, it is always better to over dress than underdress. Wear neutral colors, not too many patterns as they are distracting, limit the jewelry you wear, tie your hair back, and don’t wear too much perfume as a certain scent may have a negative association with the interviewer.
Arriving at your Interview:
- Stay positive – On the day of your interview, the interview starts the moment you wake up. Be sure to be in a positive mindset, be well rested and be professional in all your interactions that day leading up to your interview.
- Arrive early – try to be early, about 10-15 minutes before the interview, to give yourself time to collect your thoughts. If you know you are going to be late, give them a call and let them know.
- Use proper body language – In the interview, sit back with crossed legs at the ankles. Don’t put your hands on the table, and use hand gestures effectively, but not too much.
During the Interview:
- Typical opening question – Tell me about yourself. The answer to this question is not your detailed autobiography, starting from your birth ,including all your school, work and volunteer experience volunteer, and finishing with your hobbies. Avoid reading off your resume in chronological order. Instead focus on highlighting 3-4 skills, experiences or interests that are needed for the job, based off your research from the job posting.
- 4 common question types –
- Fact finding questions try to get to know you and fact check your resume. Know your resume well.
- Situational questions provide you with a scenario and ask what you would do. Back this answer up with skills and lessons learned from your previous experience.
- Technical questions are case interview questions, related to the field of work in a more technical manner.
- Behavioral questions are questions that draw off your experience in a similar situation or task (Ex. tell me about a time when you were dealing with a problem and what you did in that situation). These questions are made to see the skills and competency level you possess. Real experiences are good to use, as interviewers remember stories. Examples of behavioral questions can simply be made from the responsibilities section of the job posting description.
- How to best answer questions – When answering a question based off a previous professional experience, paint a picture using a good story described with a beginning, middle and end. If you do not have a concrete example, you can mention that, but create a hypothetical scenario describing how you would act in that situation accordingly. It is important to speak specifically about your actions, not generally about the team’s actions.
- Use the STAR method to describe your previous experience:
- Situation – define the context your were in (who, what, where, when)
- Tasks – describe the task you were assigned to do
- Actions – explain the actions that you took in this situation - what did you do?
- Results - what was the outcome? Be prepared to also answer to what you would have done differently in this situation and explain the lessons learned from this experience.
After the interview:
It is always appreciated to send a thank you email within a few hours after the interview to the interview panelists. This is an excellent opportunity to further portray your professional communication style and invite them to contact you should they have any further questions.