ROSEN COLLEGE INTERVIEW GUIDE Congratulations! Your resume and outstanding qualifications won you an interview! The following guidelines will help you to:
Evaluate the position and employer Win you the job.
The interview is a two-way process. While the employer evaluates you, you should be sizing up the company just as carefully. The interview offers a chance for you and the potential employer to meet one another and exchange enough information to determine if your skills, interests, attitude, appearance, personality, confidence, and values matches the organization. BEFORE THE INTERVIEW 1. Research the employer. The #1 complaint many recruiters state is that students do not know the position or organization for which they are interviewing. There is simply no excuse for this! Demonstrating knowledge about the position and company communicates your interest – an essential element to getting hired. Some of the information you want to know includes: ORGANIZATION INFORMATION
Size of organization Location of facilities Mission or philosophy of organization Type of clients Product line or service Present price of stock Structure of assets Who is their competition? Name of recruiter or others with hiring responsibility Recent mentions in the news Others you know in the organization (know full name and position) Potential markets, products, and/or services POSITION INFORMATION
Job duties Length of time in assignments
Supervision involved· Professional development opportunities· How position fits with overall structure· Training provisions· Amount of travel· Working in a team or individually· Size of department in which position resides
Controversial issues Trends Some jargon or “buzzwords” Important people or companies Salary information for people at your level
Answers to these questions may be obtained via the organization‟s website, Company Information Files and Salary Surveys located in the Career Services Resource Room, newspapers, business magazines, trade journals, company literature, and people in the field. ALWAYS CHECK THE INTERNET BEFORE INTERVIEWING WITH AN ORGANIZATION! 2. Know yourself. According to the Adams Job Interview Almanac (2002), there are twelve types of information employers seek in a typical interview. Knowing how each point relates to you prepares you to answer nearly any question an interviewer can ask. These topics are:· Passion for the business. Ask yourself why you want to work in the industry.· Motivation and purpose. Ask yourself why you want this particular job at this particular company.· Skills and experience. Ask yourself how your skills and experience will be used in this position.· Diligence and professionalism. Think of situations from your past that demonstrate these key areas. · Creativity and leadership. Describe situations in which you needed to display these traits. · Compatibility with the job. How well do your experiences fit with this position? What are you looking for in this job?· Personality and cultural compatibility. What are your personality traits? Outgoing vs. shy, planned vs. spontaneous. How does this fit with the corporation‟s culture and with the people in it?·
Management style and interpersonal skills. What kind of boss, colleague, and employee will you be? Are you a team-player or do you prefer to work independently? Think of a leader you admire; how does your style compare with his/hers?· Problem solving ability. How have you resolved difficult issues? · Accomplishments. When have you delivered more than what was expected of you?· Career Aspirations. How do your career aspirations align with this position? Which skills do you want to develop?· Personal interests and hobbies. Are you involved with the community? How do you balance your time? Evaluate problem areas in your past, and be prepared to discuss reasons for them, if asked. Always emphasize what you learned from the event. 3. Prepare yourself
Schedule a mock interview with Career Services, especially if this is your first professional interview. · Bring 3 clean copies of your resume (on quality paper), lists of references, and transcripts and letters of reference with you to the interview A leather-like folder with pad and penholder is a fairly inexpensive way to carry the paperwork. You can get these supplies from most office supply stores. Know exactly how to get to the interview. Arrive 10 minutes early. Plan to stay late if necessary. Know the name, role, and level of responsibility of each individual you plan to meet. Dress professionally (see last page). Immediately prior to your interview, review your resume and rehearse key points you want to communicate. DURING THE INTERVIEW 1. In general
You will be sized up within the first 30 seconds, so make a positive first impression! Some keys to success:· Walk and speak confidently.· Smile when meeting someone new. · Be courteous to the administrative assistant.· Shake hands firmly, with eye contact, but avoid crushing bones.· Keep your briefcase, notepad, and coat in the left hand to keep your right hand free for shaking.·
Remember and pronounce the interviewer‟s name correctly.· Make easy small talk when appropriate – it‟s okay to be relaxed!
Throughout the interview, you want to convey sincerity, dedication to achievement, confidence, integrity, and a high energy level. We convey 55% of our messages through body language, 38% through our voice tone, and only 7% through our words. Keep the following non-verbal signals in mind:·
Eye contact – open and direct. Eye contact often breaks during periods of thought… this is okay!· Posture – forward facing and open. Leaning forward slightly communicates interest.· Nervous habits – be aware of yours and control them. · Voice tone – warm, well-modulated, confident, and relaxed.
2. Questions employers often ask About yourself: 1. Tell me about yourself. 2. What does „service‟ mean to you? 3. Name 3 strengths and weaknesses. 4. What can you do that someone else can‟t? 5. What qualifications do you have that indicate you will be successful in your field? How would they relate to this position? What do you have to offer? 6. What new skills or capabilities have you developed over the past year? 7. What have you done which shows initiative and willingness to work? 8. What are your greatest work and accomplishments during the past two years? 9. Describe three things that are most important to you in a job? 10. What motivates you? 11. What have you been doing since your graduation from college? Since you left your last job? 12. How would a co-worker, friend, or boss describe you? 13. What are your interests outside work or school? 14. What qualities do you admire most in others? 15. How would you describe your own work style?
About your career goals: 1. What do you see yourself doing 1, 3, 5, and 10 years from now? 2. What type of position are you interested in? 3. What are your salary requirements, short and long term? 4. What is success? Which personal characteristics will contribute to your success? 5. How will employment with us contribute to your career plans? 6. What do you expect from a job? 7. What are your career objectives – short and long range? 8. This job is a total change from previous employment. How does it fit your career goals? 9. What are your location preferences? About education 1. How does your education prepare you for this position? 2. What activities did you engage in at school? 3. Which classes did you like most and least at school? Why? 4. Why did you decide to choose the Rosen College? 5. Why did you choose your major? 6. Describe your academic strengths and weaknesses. 7. What are your plans for continuing your education? 8. What have you read recently in your field? About previous experience: 1. What have you learned from past jobs? 2. How often, and in what way, did you communicate with your subordinates and superiors? 3. What were the biggest pressures of your last job? 4. How did your job description for your last job change while you held it? 5. What specific skills acquired or used in previous jobs relate to this position? 6. Why did you leave your last job? 7. What did you like most and least about your last job? 8. Whom may we contact for references? About the company or specific position:
1. Why should we hire you? 2. Why do you want to work here? 3. What do you know about this organization? 4. What salary do you expect? 5. Why do you think you would like this position and company? 6. What kind of boss do you like to work for? 7. How long do you intend to stay here? 8. What do you think determines a person‟s progress in an organization? 9. What interests you about our product or service? How would you improve it? 10. What do you think would be your greatest contribution to our operation? 11. How do you solve problems? 12. When can you start to work? 13. Can you travel overnight? Behavioral questions: 1. How have you handled situations with upset or dissatisfied customers? 2. What is one of the toughest problems you have ever had to solve? Why was it difficult? How did you solve it? 3. What criteria would you use to determine the top ten priority accounts for a new sales territory? 4. Give an example of a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done. 5. How would you motivate an employee who was performing poorly? 6. What is the biggest risk you have ever taken? 7. Give an example of a situation in which you didn‟t back down in the face of adversity. 8. Tell me about an unpopular decision you have made. How long did it take to make the decision? Why did the situation arise? How do you think you handled it? 9. When have you felt overwhelmed? Tell me about it. 10. What would you do if your co-workers complained to you about the company? 11. Let‟s say your manager gave you 10 things to do by 5pm and you realized you couldn‟t finish them all. How would you prioritize them? 12. Tell me about a time when you “bent” the rules. When is it ok to do so?
ANSWERING INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 1. Use the STAR technique. The STAR technique is a way to frame answers concisely and completely. STAR stands for:
Situation – discuss a situation or problem you encountered Task – share the task which the situation required or the ideas for resolving your problem Action – tell about the actions you took or obstacles you overcame Result – reveal outcomes, goals achieved, and lessons learned
For example: Tell me about a time when you feel you gave exceptional customer service. Situation: When I was working for a catering hall, I was responsible for booking reception rooms for special events. Two weeks before her son‟s wedding, a mother called to cancel her reservation. The wedding was postponed due to a death in the family. Task: This customer was obviously upset about these sad circumstances, and I wanted to do as much as I could do ease her mind about the reception arrangements. Action: I knew it wasn‟t too late to book another event for that room, so I checked with the manager regarding the possibility of refunding her deposit. We were able to return her full deposit, and I assured her that we could book another room for her when the family was ready to make plans. Result: The woman wasn‟t expecting to receive money back and was pleasantly surprised that canceling the room wasn‟t impossible. My manager complimented me for taking the initiative with this customer. 2. And THAT’s why you should hire me. Behind every question the interviewer asks, he/she is really asking: WHY SHOULD I HIRE YOU???? Answer every question as though you could finish your statement with the sentence, “And that‟s why you should hire me.” 3. Questions you may want to ask Just as the interviewer is wondering why he/she should hire you, you should be wondering why you should work for them! Most interviews will conclude (or even begin!) with a chance for you to ask questions of the interviewer. Always prepare questions ahead of time. Your research should provide a foundation for some of them… your goal is to find out as much information you can about the position and company to make an informed decision about IF you would want to work with them. Some sample questions: 1. How would you describe a typical day in this position? 2. How much travel is to be expected? 3. How frequently do you relocate professional employees? What is your relocation procedure? 4. Why are you looking to fill this job? (Is it a newly created position? Did the previous employee leave? Why?)
5. Can you describe your ideal candidate for this position? (Then tell them why you have the attributes they‟re looking for!) 6. What is the average stay in this position? 7. Outside my department, who else will I work with? 8. How much evening or weekend work is expected? 9. How high a priority is this department within the organization? 10. What are the prospects for advancement beyond this level? 11. How does one advance in this organization? 12. How often are performance reviews given? 13. How often do the training programs begin? What do they consist of? 14. How many people go through your training program each year? 15. What new product lines/services have been announced recently? 16. What is the average age of top management? 17. Will you describe the company‟s philosophy to me? 18. How many people are you interviewing for this position? 19. What are the things you like most/least about working here? 20. Why did you sign on and why do you stay? 21. If I am offered employment here, when would you like me to start? 22. What else can I tell you about my qualifications? 23. May I have a business card? 24. What is the next step of the hiring process? 25. When can I expect to hear from you?The last two questions are crucial. Be sure you know with whom you spoke and what‟s coming next! A WORD ABOUT SALARY: Never bring up salary or benefits before the interviewer does. Doing so makes a candidate appear primarily interested in monetary rewards. Allowing the employer to mention salary first gives you more bargaining power in the end. 5. Types of interviews A. Screening. On-campus interviews are usually screening interviews. Usually they are brief, and are conducted by a well-trained interviewer. The purpose is to weed out candidates who may not be qualified. B. On-Site. You will meet with various people within the organization at different times throughout the day who will have input into the hiring decision. It often involves a full day or longer, and an
opportunity to see the physical plant. Many questions will be the same. Be patient when answering them – this is the first time each person hears your answer! C. One-on-one. Usually these interviews are with your potential supervisor and will be the person ultimately making the hiring decision. D. Panel. You can get a good idea of how the staff works together in these interviews. Be sure to bring a copy of your resume for each person on the panel! Questions may be more rapidly paced. You should maintain eye contact and involve everyone, not just the person asking the question. E. Telephone. Often, these are used as screening interviews. Be sure your answering machine and others in your household answer the phone in a professional manner during your job search…just in case an interviewer calls spontaneously! Being concise is critical, since body language is not an element. Talk slowly enough for the interviewer to take notes. Be aware that you may be on speakerphone. Create an environment with no noise or distractions. Smile into the phone and stand up while talking – these things will convey authority and friendliness. F. Behavioral. Instead of asking how you would behave in a situation, the interviewer asks how you did behave. Questions will be probing and will ask for lots of detail. Interviewers may take copious notes. An example: “Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership. What did you do? What did you say? What were you thinking? How did you feel? What was your role? What was the result?” To prepare, identify a story to demonstrate each of the 12 points on page 2, and use the STAR technique to relay it.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW Once you wow the employer with your well-thought out responses, your job is not quite over. The following tips will maintain your credibility: · Send a thank you letter within 48 hours to each person you interviewed with, thanking them for their time, restating your interest (if it still exists), and highlighting why the employer should hire you (if you‟re still interested). A mailed letter is better than an e-mailed letter. See page 13 for an example. · If the employer has provided you with an email address, a brief and immediate “thanks” can positively prelude your letter. · If you are not contacted within the specified time, call to restate your interest, and to find out “where they are in the hiring process.” Communicate with the employer once per week by phone or email to keep your name fresh in their minds.
· Request a period of time to consider any offers (several days up to 2 weeks is a reasonable amount of time). See Career Services in the meantime to find out the best way to negotiate salary. · Be sure to consider all aspects of the job before accepting an offer. Even a verbal acceptance is considered binding, and it would be unethical to reverse your decision without a solid reason. · If you do not get the job, you may want to ask the employer for some constructive criticism. · Use the interview as a learning experience. After you leave the room, take notes on how to improve next time. · Keep Career Services updated on your progress. DIFFICULT QUESTIONS 1. Tell me about yourself. This is your chance to “sell” yourself to the interviewer. Remember that every answer you give should be another reason for the company to hire you. Stick to relevant topics. Mention your relevant education and experience, and perhaps state why you want to work for this employer. Sample response: 'I will be graduating in May with a major in English. During my college years, I was very active with The Reporter, the school‟s newspaper, and found a love for journalism. Last summer I interned with the Washington Post as a staff writer. I have experience in researching news-worthy subjects, interviewing people, and producing 1-3 page articles. I love to be challenged and am extremely dedicated to my work. I am self-motivated and constantly try to learn as much as I can. For some time now, I‟ve been watching your newspaper grow, and have been impressed with your innovative story lines.'
2. Tell me about a time when you failed. Demonstrate the ability to be humble and learn from your mistakes. In hindsight, what could you have done differently? How have you changed or grown as a result of your experience? Sample Response: 'I‟ve always had the tendency to be a workaholic, and have the attitude that I can tackle anything and achieve good results. During my sophomore year in college, in addition to handling a full course load, a part-time job, and volunteering twice per week, my sorority nominated me for the position of secretary. Part of my responsibility was to plan two major functions, attend 3 meetings per week, take good notes, and post them onto our organization's website. Although I could have declined the position, I decided to jump in with both feet and tackle it head on. I quickly realized though, that I had taken on too much, and had to learn the beauty of delegation! I found that the only way I could complete my tasks were to delegate some of them to the other members. This experience taught me to prioritize and also taught me the importance of saying „no‟ when I don‟t have time to do something.' 3. Why weren’t your grades better?
If you made it to the interview stage, it‟s likely that you fulfill the basic criteria for the position, including the educational requirements. The recruiter may be trying to judge how you handle stressful situations, or if you‟re able to handle the demands of the job. This is your chance to explain your lower grade point average, and focus the interviewer‟s attention on your experiences (class projects, internships, volunteer work, and leadership positions within campus organizations). Try to put a positive spin on the question – Ffor example, tell them about how your first semester was spent adjusting the new world of college, but your grades have improved every semester since. Sample response: 'I have always believed that education was a combination of academic pursuits and real life experiences. Although I studied, went to class consistently, and participated in many discussions, there were times when my focus was on gaining experience in marketing. For example, if you look at my transcript, you‟ll notice that the semester I was a promotions intern for the LPGA, my GPA dipped slightly. I was also veryactive in campus organizations and volunteer work throughout my four years at Rosen college. My combined experiences during college both inside and outside the classroom taught me a lot about the professional skills needed to succeed in the world of marketing, such as time management, teamwork, and communication.' 5. What is your biggest weakness? The key to answering questions like this is to admit a weakness that may not be perceived by the interviewer as being a hindrance to your doing the job, or one that may even have a slightly positive twist on it. Emphasize the action you‟re taking to correct the “problem.” Whatever you say, don‟t answer this question with “I can‟t think of any” or even worse, “I don‟t have any weaknesses.” This kind of response is likely to eliminate you from consideration because the interviewer may wonder what else you‟re trying to hide – everyone has something they could improve on! Sample response: I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist. I take a great deal of pride in my work and am committed to producing the highest quality work I can. Sometimes, if I‟m not careful, I can go a bit overboard though. I‟ve learned that it‟s not always practical to perfect your work…Sometimes you have to decide what‟s important. It‟s a question of trade-offs. I also pay a lot of attention to pacing my work, so that I don‟t get too caught up in perfecting every last detail. Where do you want to be in 5 years? The interviewer wants to know if you are ambitious, plan ahead and set goals for yourself. The interviewer may also want to know what kind of expectations you have of the company. Often, this question concerns students who are considering graduate study in the future, because they don't know how much to reveal. Usually, an employer does not expect you to know exactly where you hope to go in the future, but your answer should communicate an awareness of where the position for which you are interviewing might lead. If you choose to mention graduate study plans, keep the time frame and your plans openended. Even if you believe you definitely will go back to school in one year, that plan could change if you have a job you don't want to leave, so don't jeopardize your opportunity to get that job by alerting the employer to your interest in such a short-term work experience.
Sample response: 'I know that generally it is possible to move from this sales position to a sales management position in about a year, and I would look forward to having the responsibility for training and supervising a sales team. From there, I know I could move into sales for a larger territory or sales of a more expensive product line. I also have an interest in marketing. And I would consider graduate study in business in the future. My goals will become more clear as I gain experience and have the opportunity to learn more about what it takes to be successful in sales and marketing. I know your company has a tuition reimbursement program; could you tell me about it?' 7. Why do you want to work for our company? This is a very common question, sometimes rephrased as “Why did you choose this industry to work?” To answer these questions, it is imperative that you‟ve done your research (see the first page). Reply with the company‟s attributes as you see them. Somehow tie in the fact that you share the company's vision, making it a great match. Sample response: 'I‟m not just looking for another paycheck. I‟m looking for a company with which I can learn and grow, and one that has a good reputation in the field. After speaking with Becky Torres and Jim Sharder about the firm, and after checking your website, I realized that this company is dedicated to…. (customer service, quality products, etc..). I also value these things, and know that I can make a significant contribution to the team with my ____ and ____ skills.' 8. Have you ever had to work with a manager or professor who was unfair to you or who was just plain hard to get along with? Answering this question is a little like walking into a loaded mine field, so beware! Keep in mind that the interviewer doesn‟t want to learn about your former supervisors; he or she wants to learn about the way you speak about them. Even if you mention something that is completely true and justified, the recruiter may conclude either that you don‟t get along well with people, that you bad-mouth them, or that you shift blame to others. The best way to get around this dilemma is to a) Mention that you‟ve been extremely lucky with your managers/professors and that you usually get along well with everyone or b) Choose an example that is not too negative, touch upon in briefly, then focus your answer on what you‟ve learned from the difficult experience. An example: 'I‟ve been pretty fortunate as far as managers go, and I didn‟t have any problems with my professors. Although last year, I worked with a manager who was pretty inaccessible. If you walked into his office to ask a question, you got the sense you were bothering him, so we learned to get help from each other instead. It probably taught me to solve more problems on my own… which maybe was his reason behind his actions. I think he was a good manager in many other ways – I think I would have preferred if he was slightly more available to us to give direction.' HANDLING ILLEGAL QUESTIONS Federal and state laws prohibit certain questions from being asked at most job interviews. All inquiries should be related to the ability of the applicant to perform the job functions, without discriminating on the basis of sex, age, race, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation. Keep in mind that some interviewers may not know which questions are illegal. You have four basic options in this situation:· Answer the question. Be forewarned though, that giving the “wrong” answer may harm your chances
of securing the position.· Not answer the question. Although well within your legal rights, this option may leave a potential employer with a negative impression of you. · Ask the employer the reason for asking. Done tactfully, this might be a viable option. State your thinking about why the employer asked the question, and give an answer speaking to that. This could be a viable option if you‟re pretty sure what the employer is really trying to find out. For example, if asked “Are you a US citizen?” the employer is probably trying to find out if you are authorized to work in the United States for an indefinite period of time. You might answer straightforwardly: “Yes” or “No, I am from _______________.”You might decide to not answer: “I would rather not answer that question.”You might question the interviewer‟s intent: “I‟m not quite sure I understand what you‟re getting at. Would you please explain to me how this issue is relevant to the position?” You might infer the interviewer‟s intent: “It sounds like you‟re wondering if I am authorized to work in the United States. I am. ”Other illegal questions include questions related to: · AGE: How old are you? When did you graduate? What‟s your birth date? · FAMILY STATUS: What‟s your marital status? With whom do you live? Do you plan to have children? When? How many kids do you have? What are your child-care arrangements? · AFFILIATIONS: Which clubs or social organizations do you belong to? · PERSONAL:How tall are you? How much do you weigh? · DISABILIITIES: Do you have any disabilities? Please complete a medical history. Have you had any operations or illnesses? When was your last physical exam? How is your family‟s health? When did you lose your eyesight? How? Do you need an accommodation to perform the job? (Allowed only after a job offer has been made). · ARREST RECORD: Have you ever been arrested? · MILITARY: Were you honorably discharged from the military? To summarize, all questions should be related to the ability of the candidate to perform the job functions. Certain exceptions exist if the question relates to the functions of the job. For example, it is legal for a model to be asked about height and weight. In most cases, it is in your best interest to alleviate an employer‟s concerns without directly answering the illegal question. Please inform Career Services of any potentially illegal interview situations you encounter. DRESSING FOR SUCCESS The importance of proper attire cannot be overly emphasized. A recent survey indicated that approximately 40% of all employment rejections were based on personal presentation, which includes dress and grooming. So what is proper attire? It will often depend on the organization with which you are interviewing. By researching the company, you can find out in advance how formal or informal the dress code is. But, according to Linda Travis, an Atlanta image consultant, even if you find out that XYZ Company is basically a business casual operation, it would be wise to keep your interview attire on the conservative side, since most recruiters are expecting it.
Unless you are trying to land a job that is very clearly creative/artistic (photographer, commercial artist, musician, actress, etc.), it makes sense to wear the traditional garb. Here are a few tips to help you make that key first impression: MEN: · The suit: Navy or dark gray with 2-3 button jacket. A solid color or muted narrow pinstripes. 100% wool or a quality wool blend, all weather weight. · The shirt: 100% cotton solid white or light blue shirt with long sleeves. Have it professionally cleaned/starched. · The tie: Striped or quietly patterned, silk, in conservative colors. · Shoes & socks: Polished black leather dress shoes. Lace-up style. Socks high enough not to show skin when sitting or crossing legs, in a color that matches pants or shoes. · Accessories: A conservative dress watch. A briefcase or leather folder to carry resumes and a writing pad. A subtle cologne. A solid white undershirt. No earrings/piercings. A belt in the same color as shoes, with a buckle in the same color as your jewelry/watch. Little or no cologne.
WOMEN: · The suit: Navy, black, or medium-dark gray. SKIRTED suit for first interview. Skirt length should be no shorter than 1 inch above the knee. · The blouse: Silk or cotton. Complementary color or white. · The shoes: Classic heeled pumps with no scuffs. Heel should be no higher than 2.5 inches. Color should be the same or darker than the hemline of your skirt. · Accessories: Always wear hose in a color complimentary to the suit. Scarves are acceptable if they complement the suit. One ring per hand (except for wedding band sets), worn on the ring finger. Post earrings, and only one pair. A classic, not sporty, watch. Conservative makeup. Little or no perfume. · Hair: If longer than shoulder length, it should be pulled up or back, off the face. THANK YOU LETTERS After every interview, a thank you letter should be written. If you spoke with more than one person at an interview, a letter should be written to each. If you met with more than 7 people, it is appropriate to send a letter to the person who coordinated the visit, mentioning the names of all people you met. A mailed letter usually leaves a more lasting impression than an emailed note. A sample thank you letter is available on this web site. Be sure to read the thank you letter in your own words! Employers who see too many of the same letters become suspicious...