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					          Job Interview Techniques
Why do employers conduct interviews?

•   To answer remaining questions about an applicant.
•   To answer the applicant’s questions about the company or job.
•   To assess an applicant’s potential in action. (Your resume cannot communicate important factors such as
    personality, attitudes, motivations, communication skills, strengths and abilities.)

What types of interviews are there?

Prelimary or screening interviews
Used to determine whether you meet the minimum qualifications of the position and to verify facts, fill in
gaps, and probe areas that your resume did not mention.

Panel interviews (Two or more interviewers)
Direct your answers to all panel members even though only one person asks the questions. Recognize all
members by looking at each person and acknowledging his or her presence.

Group interviews
Used to meet several applicants at the same time. This disseminates information to a large number of
candidates; it may also be a means to find the natural leaders, so it is important to make yourself known.

Conversational or informal interview
You may talk about anything (hobbies, weather, and vacations) except the job. This type of interview is more
common when your resume adequately expresses your qualifications and the interviewer is interested in your
communication skills, attitudes, interests, and poise.

Telephone interviews
This type of interview narrows the pool of candidates before the formal “in person” interview. To prepare for
the interview, keep your resume and company information near the phone for quick reference.

What are some telephone interview tips?

The following tips are important to prepare for a telephone interview:
•  Keep your resume and company information near the phone so you can take notes.
•  Go into a quiet room where you will not be interrupted, sit in a chair, and focus.
•  Avoid over-familiarity.
•  Allow the interviewer to do most of the talking but keep up your end of the conversation as well.
•  Beware of giving yes/no answers. Because you and the interviewer cannot see each other, you must rely
   on your verbal communication skills.
•  Be factual.
•  Speak directly into the telephone.
Remember that a telephone interview is an actual interview. Do not be fooled into thinking it is just a
formality.
                        Calvin Career Development – 616-526-6485 – career@calvin.edu
                                 www.calvin.edu/career –Revised 11/29/2004
How do I prepare for an interview?

Research yourself by doing the following:
•   Identify your skills, abilities, and interests.
•   Assess yourself in terms of creativity, leadership qualities, communication skills, interpersonal skills,
    technical skills, and so on.
•   Examine your goals and objectives, and decide what you want to do and where you want to do it.
•   Review your work experiences (part-time, summer, volunteer), extracurricular activities, hobbies, and
    awards.
•   Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, personal aspirations, work values, attitudes, and expectations.
•   Review your educational background (classes, projects, major).
•   If you need assistance in this process, make an appointment with a career counselor for individual
    guidance.

Research the job and company by doing the following:
•  If you are applying for a specific job, understand what the job description and job title mean.
•  Know something about the company and job before the interview, including
   −   Size of the organization/company
   −   Potential growth for the company
   −   Percent of annual sales growth in the last five years
   −   Type of service of new products
   −   Competition in the field
   −   Organizational structure
   −   Geographical location
   −   Number of plants, stores, or sales outlets
   −   Type of training program
   −   Average time in non-management position
   −   Recent items in the news
   −   Relocation policy
   −   Typical career paths in your field
   −   Typical salary range

What can I do ahead of time to ensure a successful interview?

•   Note the time and place of the interview as well as the name and title of interviewer. Be sure to know the
    correct spelling and punctuation.
•   Arrive early, but not more than 15 minutes (drive around if necessary).
•   Bring an extra copy of your resume.
•   Bring a pen and notebook to jot down notes before and after the interview. (During the interview, you will
    want to devote all your attention to the interviewer, so taking notes during the interview is usually not
    recommended.)
•   You may want to bring a copy of your transcripts or a list of classes, especially if your GPA is high or if
    you want to point out specific class work in a certain area.
•   Be prepared to furnish a typed reference sheet if requested. (Get a person's permission before listing him
    or her as a reference. Your "professional" reference list should include name, title, address, telephone
    number, and email address. Employers are preferred references, but professors, advisors, and club
    sponsors will serve you well.)

                        Calvin Career Development – 616-526-6485 – career@calvin.edu
                                 www.calvin.edu/career –Revised 11/29/2004
•   Dress professionally, and be clean and well groomed. If you are not sure how to dress, dress
    conservatively.
•   Treat everyone you meet in the office with respect.
•   Psyche yourself up. Prepare to enter the interview with a positive attitude even if you are nervous.
•   Be yourself.
•   Be prepared with questions to ask the interviewer.

What will happen during the interview?

•   A typical interview begins with an introduction phase that sets the tone of an interview. Usually the
    interviewer tries to put the candidate at ease and presents general information about the company and
    position.
•   The interviewer may make direct questions about your background and qualifications, using your resume
    as an outline. He or she may ask open-ended questions such as "Tell me about yourself" or "What can I do
    for you?" or very specific questions about your education and work experience.
•   Follow the interviewer's lead, answering all questions fully and completely. Give yourself a moment to
    consider the question and your answer before answering. Do not answer every question with a yes or no.
    This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Do not ramble or dwell on certain questions. If you have
    difficulty with a question, ask for clarification or simply state that you do not have an answer at this time.
•   Communicate information that you believe that the interviewer needs to know about you. Dwell on
    positive, strong points; never volunteer negative information, but be prepared to explain negatives. For
    example, if asked about your GPA, you will have to tell the interviewer what it is. If it is low, provide some
    explanation (i.e., I held a 40-hour per week job at ____ while I attended college full-time).
•   Do not be discouraged if the interview seems to be progressing negatively. Some interviewers deliberately
    discourage candidates to test their reaction. You have nothing to lose by continuing the interview. Your
    appearance and confidence can leave only a favorable impression.

A recent nationwide survey of leading human resource executives revealed several factors that can lead to
successful interviews:
•  Interviewers like enthusiastic, responsive candidates. (Remember that 90 percent of all communication is
   nonverbal.)
•  Do not lie or exaggerate about your skills or accomplishments.
•  Interviewers are more favorably impressed by candidates who look them in the eye. (This doesn't
   necessitate a stare-down.)
•  Ask intelligent questions about the job and company. This requires prior research.
•  Do not ask a question just to ask a question. Consider what you want to know.
•  Do not ask direct questions about salary or fringe benefits at the beginning of the interview. Do not start
   the salary negotiations, let them. (You may be asked about your salary requirements. Your research and
   organization should prepare you for this question.)

What are some interviewing hints?

•   Practice, practice, and practice! Contact Career Development if you would like to schedule a practice
    interview with a career counselor.
•   Check out the on-campus recruiting schedule.
•   Develop concrete ideas of what you would like to do (immediately and eventually). Think in terms of what
    types of functions you like and are able to perform—written communications, sales, etc.

                        Calvin Career Development – 616-526-6485 – career@calvin.edu
                                 www.calvin.edu/career –Revised 11/29/2004
•   Keep a file on each company that interviewed you. Include notes on the interview; recruiter’s name,
    address, phone; letters from employers; copies of your replies and thank-you notes.
•   Acknowledge all correspondence promptly.
•   Cancel remaining interviews and inform prospective companies about your decision once you have
    accepted a job offer.
•   Inform Career Development of offers that you have received and accepted.
•   Write thank-you notes to those who took the time to meet with you.

What are some typical questions that interviewers ask college seniors?

Personal assessment questions include the following:

•   What are your short-range and long-range (career) goals? How are you preparing to achieve them?
•   What (non-career) goals have you established for yourself over the next five or ten years?
•   What do you really want to do in life?
•   What do you see yourself doing in the future?
•   Which rewards are most important to you in your chosen career?
•   What were your motivations in the choice of the career for which you are prepared/preparing?
•   What salary expectations do you have—now, five years, ten years from now?
•   What are your strengths and your weaknesses?
•   How would you describe yourself?
•   How do you think people who know you describe you?
•   What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort? Why?
•   What supervisory or leadership roles have you held?
•   What are your hobbies and recreational activities?
•   Why should I hire you?

Questions that evaluate your education include the following:

•   Why did you select your college or university?
•   What motivated you to choose your major?
•   What college subjects have you liked and why? What college subjects have you disliked and why? Tell us
    about your senior project.
•   If you could do so, how would you plan your academic study differently? Why?
•   What changes would you make in your college or university?
•   Do you think that your grades are a good indication of your academic achievement? Explain.
•   Has your college experience prepared you for your chosen career?
•   Describe your most rewarding college experience.
•   If you were hiring a recent college graduate for this position, what qualities would you look for?
•   Have you been involved in extra-curricular activities? Explain what you have learned from this type of
    participation.
•   Do you have plans for continued study or an advanced degree?



Questions that evaluate your work experience include the following:


                       Calvin Career Development – 616-526-6485 – career@calvin.edu
                                www.calvin.edu/career –Revised 11/29/2004
•   Tell me about some of your work experiences. What have you liked most about a work experience, and
    why? What have you liked least about a work experience and why?
•   How would you describe the ideal job for you following graduation?
•   What two or three factors are most important to you in your job?
•   How do you work under pressure?
•   In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable, and why?
•   Describe the type of relationship that should exist between a supervisor and subordinates?
•   What qualities do you have that you think would make you successful in your chosen career?
•   How do you determine or evaluate success for you?
•   What do you think it takes to be successful in our organization?
•   In what significant ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization?
•   Why did you leave your previous employer?

Questions that evaluate your knowledge of the employer include the following:

•   Why did you decide to seek a position with this organization?
•   What do you know about our organization?
•   What criteria are you using to evaluate the organization for which you work?
•   What are your short-range and long-range career goals?
•   Are you seeking employment in a particular organization? What type?
•   Do you have a geographical preference? Why?
•   Will you relocate? Does relocation bother you?
•   Are you willing to travel?
•   What salary level do you expect?
•   How is your previous experience applicable to what we do here?
•   Are you applying to other organizations?
•   Is there someone we can contact who is familiar with your activities?

What are some suggested responses to typical interview questions?

(Note: The suggested responses given below are to be used only as a guide. Develop your answers according to your
unique qualifications, experiences, and interests.)

Tell me about yourself.
•   Explain why you are interested in and qualified for the position. Impress the interviewer by expressing
    interest in and desire to work for the company. Discuss your qualifications. Organize your response so
    that you may narrow the focus and direct your answer to support your candidacy for the position. Bring
    up the most useful items from your background in your answer.

Why are you interested in working for this company?
• Produce specific reasons for why you want to join this company, such as the type of company, job
  description, size, and advancement potential.

Why have you chosen this field?
•  Discuss your interest and knowledge of the field and your ability to succeed on the job. If appropriate,
   explain that this type of work gives you a strong sense of purpose, identity, and accomplishment that you
   could not derive from other types of work. Avoid discussion of salary and fringe benefits. Mention key

                        Calvin Career Development – 616-526-6485 – career@calvin.edu
                                 www.calvin.edu/career –Revised 11/29/2004
     functions of the job and your interest and competency in them. Support your statement by presenting
     specific points.

Why should we hire you?
•  This question is the most important question any interviewer can ask. Communicate the skills that you
   can offer to the employer.

What are your long-range goals?
•  This is your chance to convey information such as maturity, foresight, realistic outlook, degree of
   preparation in career planning, knowledge of yourself, the occupation, and the company, and
   commitment to the company and profession.

What is your greatest strength?
•  Consider mentioning such strengths as intelligence, common sense, drive (the ability to work long and
   hard), maturity (the ability to establish work priorities, to know where to place your effort when many
   things need to be done at the same time; the ability to assess not only business problems but also the
   relationship of people to these problems), the ability to deal with people, and knowledge-ability (if you
   and your competition have equal knowledge, your other strengths will be much more important). Be
   prepared to supply examples to support your statements. Do not indicate the examples mentioned just
   because they are listed here. Assess your strengths accurately.

What is your greatest weakness?
• You can use this question to your advantage if you concentrate on the job being offered. For example, you
  might be very uncomfortable with disorder—a trait that indicates that you are well organized. Or you
  might be able to reach decisions only after you have a thorough grasp of the problem. Do not reveal a
  weakness that would actually disqualify you for the position.
  - Positive weaknesses include the following.
         o   Impatience—this may be a weakness, but if you are impatient to get a job done when it is due, it
             could be a strength.
         o   Overdrive—you drive yourself hard and push yourself to the extent of your own capacity.
         o   Tendency to overview—you prefer an assignment that involves a broad analysis rather than
             detailed administrative duties. This acceptable weakness makes you a prime candidate for a
             leadership position.
         o   You are hard to please—while no one likes a totally negative person, the person who challenges
             what goes on is better than one who accepts everything.
         o   Stubbornness when you are right—this is generally an undesirable trait, but the opposite is lack
             of conviction.
  - Do not discuss all of your weaknesses. If you are asked, cite one or two. If you are not asked, do not
      even mention weaknesses. Keep in mind a positive illustration of each weakness. A strong weakness
      can turn a minus into a plus for you.

Tell me about your schooling.
•  Be positive. Speak well of your school; you are a product of its educational program. By praising the school
   and its programs, you indirectly praise yourself. If you are asked to explain a low grade, avoid being
   defensive or blaming others. Give a reasonable explanation.



                       Calvin Career Development – 616-526-6485 – career@calvin.edu
                                www.calvin.edu/career –Revised 11/29/2004
What questions should I ask employers?
•   What are the major responsibilities of the job?
•   Could you describe the normal routine of this position? Describe a typical day.
•   How much contact and exposure is there to management?
•   Could you describe your organizational structure and tell me whom I would report to?
•   What type of person (what type of characteristics) are you seeking for this position?
•   How is job performance evaluated and how often?
•   Is it possible to transfer from one division to another? Are employees transferred between fields?
•   What is your firm's philosophy for employee upward mobility? What is the typical career path in this
    field? What opportunities are there for advancement?
•   How much travel is normally expected? Is a car provided?
•   Describe your relocation policy.
•   How many people have been in this position? Why have they left?
•   What have you liked most and what have you liked least about this company?
•   How many people are you interviewing for this position?
•   When do you expect to make a decision?
•   Where do we go from here?

What steps are important after the interview?
•   As the interview is drawing to a close, reiterate your interest level (if it is high) and find out what the next
    step is in the hiring process. Add any information that you might have omitted earlier and ask questions to
    which you have not received answers, such as: Will there be another interview? When? How soon can I
    expect to hear from you?
•   Close with a suggestion for further action, such as your availability for additional interviews at the
    employer's convenience. Usually you will not receive a job offer on the spot, but you should be prepared
    with an answer. If you are absolutely sure it is the job you want, accept it with a definite yes. If you have
    any doubts or if you are perhaps waiting for another offer, be courteous and tactful in your response.
    Request a specific amount of time to think it over, and ask when a response is required. Whether you
    decide to accept or reject the offer, inform the employer as soon as possible.
•   After the interview, make notes on some aspects of the conversation. Critique yourself. What did and
    didn't you handle well? Where could you have elaborated more? What did you learn that could help you
    with the next interview? Did you ask pertinent questions? Would a practice interview help?
•   Send a thank-you note within a week of the interview. This will express appreciation for the recent
    interview, show genuine interest in the position, and help them remember you. Thank the employer for the
    interview, and express appreciation for the courtesy or consideration extended to you. Remind the reader
    of the position for which you were interviewed and the date of the interview.
•   If you have not heard from the employer regarding the outcome of your initial interview by the date that
    they said that they would notify you, a follow-up letter can reestablish contact with the employer. You can
    also do this by contacting the employer by phone. Reaffirm your interest in the position and the
    organization. Mention anything that you have done since the interview that demonstrates your interest
    (additional research, conversations with employees). You may also add information you failed to give in
    the interview.
•   If your first interview goes well, you may be notified again at a later date that the same or additional
    representatives would like to interview you again. Two, three, or more interviews are not unusual.

                        Calvin Career Development – 616-526-6485 – career@calvin.edu
                                 www.calvin.edu/career –Revised 11/29/2004
                            On-Campus Interviewing
Where can I find out about on-campus interviewing?

• Check CalvinLink through the Career Development website at www.calvin.edu/career for up-to-date
  interview schedules on-campus.
• Ask your department chair who should receive e-mail about upcoming interviews.
• Watch your e-mail for notices from Career Development.
• Stop in (Hekman Library, 3rd floor) or call Career Development (616-526-6485).

How do I schedule an on-campus interview?

• You must be registered with Career Development through CalvinLink to interview on campus.
• Be sure to have your resume uploaded on CalvinLink several days before the interview so that the recruiter
  can receive a copy ahead of time.

How can I prepare for the interview?

• Learn all you can about the organization from their web site or printed materials.
• Set up a practice interview with a career counselor in Career Development.

What is proper on-campus interview etiquette?

• Arrive ten minutes early. You will probably have to wait, but better you than the recruiter.
• Dress professionally. Men should wear a suit or slacks and a tie; women should wear a suit, dress, or skirt
  and blouse.
• Send a thank-you note to the recruiter within a week of your interview.


What is the cancellation and no-show policy?

• Recruiters may travel several hours for their interviews and each interviewee is important to them.
  Therefore, cancellations must be made no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the interview. Should you
  cancel after that time, services offered by Career Development will be revoked and you will be required to
  write a letter of apology to the recruiter to be mailed through Career Development. At that time you can
  schedule an appointment with the Director to explain the reason for not keeping your interview, after
  which these privileges may be reinstated.




                       Calvin Career Development – 616-526-6485 – career@calvin.edu
                                www.calvin.edu/career –Revised 11/29/2004

				
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