THE INTERVIEW these goals, and how are you preparing to
The Wall Street Journal reported that “one in five 2. What are the most important rewards you ex-
interviewers decided on a job candidate in the first pect in your career?
five minutes and two-thirds of them need only 15 3. What do you consider to be your greatest
minutes.” strengths and weaknesses?
4. Tell me about yourself.
Therefore, your entrance, appearance and your first 5. Why did you select your college?
words to the interviewer are of critical importance 6. What qualifications do you have that make
when being considered for the job. you think that you will be successful in this
What Employers are Looking for: 7. Define initiative.
8. What two or three accomplishments have
The following are the top ten qualities employers given you the most satisfaction? Why?
are looking for when hiring according to NACE 9. What led you to choose your field or major
(the National Association of Colleges and Employ- study?
ers): 10. Have you changed since you started college?
11. How do you find time to study?
1. Communication skills (verbal & written) 12. Where do you see yourself in five years?
2. Honesty/integrity 13. Do you think that your grades are a good in-
3. Teamwork skills (works well with others) dication of your academic achievements?
4. Interpersonal skills (relates well to others) 14. What have you learned from participation in
5. Motivation/initiative co-curricular activities?
6. Strong work ethic 15. How do you work under pressure.
7. Analytical skills 16. What have you done which shows initiative
8. Flexibility/adaptability and willingness to work?
9. Computer skills 17. What leadership skills to you possess?
10. Self-confidence 18. Tell me about your last situation with an un-
happy customer. What did you do?
How to Prepare 19. Give me an example about a conflict with an
employee and how you handled it.
• Assess your skills, interests, values and 20. Describe a situation in which you had to use
personality traits. reference materials to write a research paper.
What was the topic? What journals did you
• Research the job and employer. read?
21. Tell me about a time when you failed to meet
• Write out answers to typical interview questions. a deadline. What things did you fail to do?
Review and refine your answers with a career What were the repercussions? What did you
22. What have you learned from some of the jobs
• Practice your technique at a video-taped mock you have held?
interview. At the minimum, practice your an-23. Tell me about yourself.
swers with a friend. 24. How do you determine or evaluate success?
25. What have you learned from your mistakes?
The following are some sample interview questions 26. Why should I hire you?
to help you practice your technique. 27. If you were hiring a graduate for this position
what qualities would you look for?
1. What are your long and short range goals and
objectives, when and why did you establish
Guidelines and Suggestions to Consider
When Answering Typical Interview "Where do you see yourself in two years? Five?
"Tell me about yourself." • Prior to the interview research the organization
to learn about the organizational structure and
• This is a typical opener used by many inter- available career paths.
viewers to learn more about you. • Describe how you plan to develop your skills
• Talk about your job related skills. within the structure of the organization.
• Consider the question in relation to the job for • Identify goals which will benefit the employer.
which you are applying.
• Discuss personal, job related, or academic ex- "We have interviewed 10 candidates equally quali-
periences as long as they relate directly to how fied to you. Why should we select
you will perform the job. you over the others?"
"Why do you want this job?" • This is your opportunity to highlight the
strengths and assess that you posses that make
• Be honest. you the best qualified candidate for this posi-
• Know yourself and what your career goals are tion.
and how they relate to the position. • Demonstrating your enthusiasm and desire for
• Research the employer and the position. the position and the organization can also be
"What do you know about this position or
employer?" "Do you have any questions?"
• Know something about the employer and the • Be prepared -- have questions ready ahead of
position itself. See the “Job Search” section of time based on the research you have done on
this handout for information on how to research the organization.
employers. • Intelligent questions reflect the depth of your
research and the clarity of your thinking.
"What are your strengths?" • Saying: "No, my questions have all been an-
swered," eliminates the opportunity to sell
• Give specific examples of your strengths -- yourself to the employer through the caliber of
generally two or three is all that is required. the question you ask.
• Provide examples that are related to the posi- • Typically, no more than 2 or 3 good questions
tion. should be asked. Whenever possible, refer spe-
• Identify your strengths by using the “Choices” cifically to something someone has said in the
database in the Career Center interview process when asking a question.
"What are your weaknesses?" "What salary are you looking for?"
• Communicate to the interviewer that any weak- • Do not inquire about salary and/or benefits dur-
ness you have will not affect your ability to do ing the initial interview; realize however the
the job. employer can.
• Identify a weakness that does not directly relate • Ask to discuss salary when you are both certain
to the work or identify a weakness that you you are right for the job.
have and explain how you are working on it. • If pressed for an amount it is best to talk about
• Choose a weakness that can be turned into a a salary range which you will know from doing
positive. your research.
Questions to ask the Employer: • Maintain intermittent eye contact to show inter-
est and integrity.
• To whom would I report? Will I get the oppor-
tunity to meet that person? After the Interview
• In researching the position, I discovered that • At the conclusion of the interview, thank the
your department has been working on a interviewer(s) for meeting with you and ask
project. Can you tell me more details about when you can expect to know the results of the
• What would my first assignment be? • Immediately after the interview, send a thank
you letter (within 24 hours). See THANK
• Can you give me an idea of when you expect to YOU LETTER information on page ___
make a decision?
• In the thank you letter:
• What have been some of the best results pro-
duced by people in this job? ♦ Tell the interviewer(s) you appreciate
his or her taking time to see you.
• What type of training will I receive? ♦ Restate your interest in the job and,
perhaps, mention a point that came up
• Why did the person in this leave or why is there in the interview which was of special
an opening? interest to you.
• What is a typical day like for someone in this • Send a thank you letter even if you are not in-
position? terested in the position. Indicate that you ap-
preciated meeting with interviewer however; at
During the Interview: this time, you are withdrawing your application
for the position.
• Dress professionally. How you look will com-
municate that you are ready for a If you are not contacted within the specified period
professional career. For further suggestions, of
view the “Dressing for Success” videotape
available in the Career Library.
• First impressions are very important. They
include non-verbal communications such as
body language, eye contact and voice quality.
• Greet the interviewer in a sincere and friendly
• Introduce yourself with a firm handshake.
• Show your self-confidence and enthusiasm dur-
ing the interview.
• Sit up straight, settled against the back of the
chair with an alert, interested expression.
THANK YOU LETTER • Be professional in format.
• Use titles such as Ms. or Dr. unless you have
Follow up letters do count. Two candidates for been specifically told to be less formal.
senior posts lost out recently because they didn't • Spell out all words; do not abbreviate.
send letters after job interviews, recruiter Dussick • Have someone proofread your letter to be sure
Management Associates says. The companies had that the names of those who interviewed you
hoped the letters would provide clues to the appli- are spelled correctly.
cants' communication skills. — Wall Street Jour-
nal Guidelines for Writing A Thank You
• To acknowledge the meeting and thank the in-
terviewer. Make five points clear:
• To keep you fresh in the mind of the inter-
viewer. 1. You paid attention to what was being said.
• To help set you apart from other applicants. 2. You understood the importance of the inter-
• To express your interest in the position or to viewer's comments.
decline the position. 3. You are excited about the job, can do it, and
• To provide more information about yourself to want it.
the interviewer. 4. You have good communication skills.
• To explain any aspect of the interview that went 5. You correct any negative impressions or clear
poorly. up confusing issues that surfaced during the
Use the right words and phrases in your letter:
Before leaving the interview try and get a business
card from everyone who interviewed you. While • Reflection -- “Upon reflection, ...” or “Having
sitting in your car, on the bus, train, or plane, do a thought about our meeting...”
written recap of the interview while it's still fresh in • Recognize -- "I recognize the importance of..."
your mind. Answer these questions: • Listen -- "Listening to the points you made..."
• Enthusiasm -- Letting the interviewer catch
• Whom did you meet? Names and titles. your enthusiasm is very important.
• What does the job entail? • Impressed -- Let the interviewer know you
• Why can you do the job? were impressed with the people/ product/ ser-
• What aspects of the interview went poorly? vice/ facility/ market/position.
Why? • Challenge -- Share your feelings about how
• What is the agreed-upon next step? challenged you will be to do your best work in
• What was said during the last few minutes of this environment.
the interview? • Confidence -- Let the interviewer know you are
confident of doing the job well.
Writing the letter • Interest -- If you want the job/next interview,
say so. Ask for the job in a positive and enthu-
• Keep the letter neat and professional. siastic manner.
• Type it on a good typewriter or use a word • Appreciation-- As a courtesy and mark of pro-
processor with a laser printer. fessional manners, you must express apprecia-
• Keep it as brief as possible. One-half to three- tion for the time the interviewer took to con-
quarters of a page is sufficient. sider you for the position.
• Use standard 8 1/2-by-11 inch letter bond
white. (It can also be written on the same paper
used for your resume.)
INTERVIEW THANK YOU
Ms. Romelle Aluce
Director, Western Region
Feed the Homeless, Inc.
Los Angeles, CA 90324
May 16, 1996
Dear Ms. Aluce:
I enjoyed meeting you and your committee last Friday. Please extend my appreciation for the interview to Catherine,
Christopher, Dwight and Jennifer. I was impressed by your obvious interest in providing quality programs, and your
efficiency and friendliness. I would definitely like to be a part of your team.
Having thought about our meeting, I agree with your assessment of the political environment which does not ade-
quately address the needs of the city's hungry. Both my involvement with the mayor's task force on the homeless and
my fund-raising expertise give me the confidence to meet the challenges of you r organization.
I recognize the importance of your finding the right candidate to "fit" the job. I am convinced that I have the skills,
energy, temperament, and most of all the desire to perform the development officer position with enthusiasm. You
offer an environment that would challenge me to do my best work.
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you. I hope to hear from you soon.