Tips for a Successful Interview
Every time you land an interview, you should give yourself a pat on the back. Being invited for an interview is a good indication that people are not only looking at your résumé, but considering you as a qualified candidate for a position. The rest is up to you. An interview is essentially what makes or breaks a deal and helps you land the position you really want. The interview essentially helps an employer identify if you are the right candidate for the job and whether or not you would be a good fit with the organization. Below are some questions and thoughts that go through the minds of employers when they are interviewing candidates for positions.
- Do I like this individual?
- Can I see this person being part of our organization?
- Can this person really do the job without much hand-holding?
- Can I see myself working effectively with this person?
- How will this individual work with other staff members?
- Can I really trust this person with this position?
- Does this person seem enthusiastic about working with us?
- Is this person open and willing to learn?
Sometimes interviews are about finding the right fit, both for the organization and for you. Think of an interview as your opportunity to market yourself as the best candidate for the position. An interview is your time to shine and make a good first impression. In addition, think of an interview as the perfect opportunity for you to interview the organization to see if it will be a good fit for you.
Interviewing in itself is a skill and like any skill practice makes perfect. Consider the following tips and suggestions as you prepare for an interview.
First, become familiar with the different types of interviews. You can visit the Career Center website at www.fullerton.edu/career and utilize the library and online resources such as InterviewStream and Ferguson's Career Guidance database for additional information on interviewing tips, types of interviews, and to begin practicing your interviewing skills.
Types of Interviews
- In Person
- Lunch or Dinner
- All Day
- Group Interviews
- On-Campus Interviews
- The industry, the company, and the position (minimum of two hours)
- The goals, mission, and vision of the organization?
- What are they known for?
- What makes them unique?
- Their reputation?
- Who works there?
- What do they do?
- Who do they service?
- What is their geographic location?
Prepare and Practice
- Utilize InterviewStream to help you prepare for your interview
- Schedule an in-person mock interview with a Career Center professional
- Review the job description to help prepare for obvious questions
- Know your strengths, weaknesses, interests, values, skills, abilities, experience, education, personality, and goals
- Prepare your 30 second introduction (elevator pitch)- which should basically answer the "Tell me about yourself?" question - include in your elevator pitch your educational background, experience, related skills, career interests and how your long- term and short-term goals relate to the position or opportunities offered within a given organization
- Memorize your résumé
Before the Interview
- Get correct directions and plan accordingly for traffic and parking
- Know who will conduct the interview and the type of interview format that will be used (individual, panel, lunch, etc )
- Make sure your interview clothes fit well and are clean and pressed
- Select an attire that is conservative
Day of the Interview
- Dress to impress
- Arrive 15 minutes early
- Be nice and courteous to everyone
- Bring extra copies of your résumé and a list of references in a portfolio with notepad and pen
- Turn off your cell phone or other electronic devices
During the Interview
- Have a firm handshake
- Remember to smile and show enthusiasm
- Consistently make good eye contact with all interviewers
- Be prepared with your 30-second introduction (elevator pitch)
- Limit your responses to no more than 2–3 minutes per question
- Identify specific skills as they relate to the job
- Answer questions about work style
- Provide examples that illustrate or demonstrate a specific skill or function
- Be ready to handle situational/behavioral questions utilizing the STAR (situation, task, action, result) approach
- Ask informative questions at the end of the interview
- NEVER ask about SALARY- unless an employer brings it up first
- Ask about the next steps in the interview process
- Remember to shake everyone's hand and thank them
- Ask for interviewer's business cards
After the Interview
- Send a thank you letter, this can be in email format, to all interviewers (within 24 hours)
- Follow-up with the employer (1 week later)
- Is this job for you?
- A good fit = a successful career
- Critique yourself: Were you prepared? What would you do differently next time?
Dressing accordingly may seem basic, but it is easier said than done. There is no impression like the first impression. Before you start your rounds of interviews, be sure to have a comfortable, clean, and fairly conservative outfit. If you are not looking your best, the interviewer may wonder how much worse it can get. Your attire showcases your level of professionalism. A good rule of thumb is to know what the typical dress norms are for the organization and dress one step above that.
Men Should Consider
- Clean-cut hairstyle
- Clean shaven face
- No excessive cologne
- Dark colored suit
- Collared dress shirt
- Subdued tie
- No excess jewelry
- Small portfolio
- Dress slacks
- Dress shoes and socks
- Belt, shoes, and socks
should all match
Women Should Consider
- Clean-cut hairstyle
- No excess jewelry
- Neatly styled hair
- No excess makeup
- No excessive perfume
- Dress shirt
- Skirt or pant suit
- Neat trimmed nails
- Small portfolio
- Skin-toned nylons
- Close-toed shoes
- No spike heels
- Small handbag
Making a Good Impression
The qualities many interviewers value in a candidate include the following.
- Being prepared for the interview
- Showing enthusiasm and expressing a willingness to work and learn on the job
- Honest, genuine answers to questions during the interview, rather than overconfident or arrogant attitudes
- Knowledge of the firm/organization and of the industry
- High energy level
- The ability to collaborate, problem solve, and work with other workers
- The ability to accept criticism and grow and learn from errors
- Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices
- Throw away any gum or candy
- Address your interviewer with respect using, "Mr or Ms " until otherwise told
- Do not ask about salary
- Do not fidget with your clothes, hair, or jewelry during the interview
- Do not place your belongings on the employer's desk/table
- Do not speak badly or negatively about colleagues or past employers
- Do not mention health or financial problems
- Do not dominate the conversation
- Keep a good posture
- Remember to smile
Interview Checklist- Questions that can help you evaluate the success of your interview.
- Did you arrive on time?
- Were you dressed appropriately?
- Did you smile and greet the interviewer(s) by name?
- Were you able to mention your skills and strong points?
- Did you show interest in working for the company?
- Did you answer most questions thoughtfully and completely instead of with "yes" or "no" responses?
- Did you stay on track and not ramble on about unrelated issues?
- Did you ask the interviewer all you needed to know about the job?
- Did you come prepared with reasons why you want to work for the company, reasons why the employer should hire you, and questions that indicated a genuine interest in learning more about the firm?
- Do you know what the next step is?