Career Services

Successful Job Interviewing

Research Potential Employers

In addition to the previous topics, education majors and teachers will want some additional information:

Job Search Advice from Employers

How can I, as an applicant, best prepare myself for the job search?

What do employers look for in an applicant?

How can I make a positive impression during the interview?

Questions to Consider - Employers expect you to respond

Tell me about yourself. Be brief, you can't tell everything (one or two minutes). Keep your response relevant to the position and the organization in question. Before the interview, consider what qualities and experiences you want to emphasize. Typically, these include academic background, any related work experiences (paid or volunteer), and any other aspects of your background that will help the interviewer see you as potentially successful in the position.

Why do you want to work for us? The interviewer is finding out how much you know about the organization and your chosen career field. If you haven't done your "homework" this question can be devastating.

Why should we hire you? Knowing your own strengths and abilities will be the key to this question. You must be able to convince the interviewer that you can contribute to the organization. Emphasize where and how you expect to contribute--not what you expect the employer to do for you.

What is your greatest weakness? Don't knock yourself out of contention for the job. Whatever you mention, be sure to state you have worked to strengthen yourself in the particular area or turn it around to be a potential strength. For example, "I am a perfectionist and like to do the best work possible, so sometimes I wind up spending more time on projects than is really needed." Don't select a weakness that would be critical to your success.

What are your long-range goals? The interviewer would like to know if you plan to stay in this career field and with this organization. General goals that confirm your commitment are best. Mentioning specific job titles and salary levels--or saying "I want to be president of the company" can sound pretentious.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of? Be ready for this question with at least two (preferably three or four) concrete examples that illustrate your personal strengths. Ideally these examples will illustrate qualities and abilities that will be valuable once you are on the job.

Additional examples of the types of questions you may be asked in an interview are:

Key questions to ask about the organization and/or the job

Other questions may pertain to developments within the organization or industry and the effects on the job in question. Here, it will be essential that your research on the organization be as current as possible. Generally speaking, you should not ask about salary and benefits early in the interview; instead concentrate on finding out about the job itself. The employer should be the one to bring up the topic of money, usually later in the process.

Dressing for a Successful Interview

When dressing for job interviews, it is almost impossible to be too conservative. Most employers regard conservative dress as a sign of good judgment. Be sure your clothing is clean, pressed, and in good repair. Being well groomed is essential for any interview. Good grooming indicates to the employer that you value yourself and your work.

Guidelines for Men -- Conservative suit

Guidelines for Women -- Skirted suit (no pantsuits)

Summary of Keys to Successful Interviewing

  1. Have well defined career goals.
  2. Be punctual.
  3. Be alert and prepared.
  4. Do not chew gum or smoke.
  5. Dress neatly and appropriately.
  6. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake.
  7. Maintain good eye contact.
  8. Follow the lead of the employer to identify relevant topics for discussion.
  9. Express thought clearly and concisely--don't ramble!
  10. Be informed about the organization and ask relevant questions.
  11. Concentrate on the positive! If asked to identify your weakness, mention something non-essential, then mention steps you are taking to overcome it.
  12. Be alert to nonverbal cues such as nods, smiles, gestures, mannerisms, eye contact, voice tone, etc.
  13. Before leaving the interview, determine the next action expected of you.
  14. Do not bring up salary and benefits.
  15. Be enthusiastic and interested in the organization.
  16. Smile, but keep it natural.
  17. Maintain good posture while sitting and standing--don't slouch!
  18. Write a thank-you letter to your interviewer and have it in the mail within forty-eight hours.

The Company Visit

When the interviewer indicates that you are a good candidate and that others in the organization would like to meet you in a follow-up interview, keep a level head. Get as much information about the next interview as possible. Naturally, you will need to know where and when it will take place, but getting additional details is critical.

Find out:

Because of the greater variability in the length and structure of follow-up interviews as compared to screening interviews, previously un-encountered situations can occur. A few of the most common are mentioned here with suggestions on the best way to handle them.

Smoking: If you are a smoker and your interview lasts several hours, you may be tempted to smoke. Don't do it! Resist the urge. It could eliminate you from further consideration.

Meals: If your interview lasts more than a few hours it will probably include at least one meal with the employer's representatives. Proper etiquette is absolutely essential. Also, choose your meal wisely. Some foods are difficult or impossible to eat neatly and should be avoided (for example, spaghetti, barbecued ribs, fried chicken). Don't order the most expensive item on the menu, either; you may be viewed as a spendthrift or as trying to take advantage of the employer's hospitality.

Drinking: If it is suggested that you order an alcoholic drink with your meal, limit yourself to one. None is preferable. No employer will fault you for not drinking, but some may get a negative impression if you order even one. You cannot go wrong by choosing non-alcoholic beverages during the interview process.

Remember, regardless of where you are, who you are with, or what you are doing, you are being evaluated as a potential employee of the organization. Use good taste and common sense in all that you do.

Handling Job Offers

Weighing the Offer

In deciding whether to accept or reject an offer, you will need to evaluate it on its own merits. It is unusual to have more than one offer to consider at one time. You will want to look at job-related, monetary, life-style, and geographic considerations to help you evaluate job offers and make your decision.

Coping with Rejection

Being rejected by potential employers is an inevitable part of every job search. This doesn't mean that it will be easy to accept or that you have to like it. No one likes to feel unwanted. This is as true in the job search as in any other aspect of life. Keep in mind two things that may help you handle negative feedback in a positive way.

First, you will hear "no" many more times than "yes". This is a fact of the job search, and realizing this should help you put an employer's "no" into proper perspective.

Second, Don't just accept an employer's negative response without looking at the reasons. Try to determine why you were turned down. Was there a poor fit between the position and your background? You may be able to see the answers to these questions yourself, but it is also a good idea to seek guidance and input from the Career Services Office staff or from the interviewer by asking, "how could I have presented myself better?".

Accept the fact that you will be rejected more often than not, but learn from the experience to better prepare for the next interview.