Tips for a Successful Interview
1 Know Yourself
It will be difficult to articulate your skills, interests, and goals to an interviewer, especially if you have difficulty articulating them to yourself. Complete a thorough self-assessment, reviewing your skills/abilities, background, values, experience, education, training, and career goals. Your goal is to determine how to best market yourself to an employer. If you have difficulty identifying your skills and qualifications, make an appointment to speak with a staff member in Career Services. Review your resume and know what key skills, education and experience you wish to convey to the employer.
2 Know Your Field of Interest
Employers will want to know why you selected a particular career field to pursue, what your related experience has been and why you are interested in their position. You need to be prepared for these types of questions. Career research will help you. Explore resources in Firsthand, Handshake, this Career Services' website and on the employer's website to find information about the field, industry and position. This may include future projections, major competitors, industry trends and characteristics of individuals in the field.
3 Know the Employer
Research the organization to discover its products, services, location(s), growth, and future prospects. Consider the following list of areas to research:
- Products and/or Services
- Type of Organization
- Structures & Divisions
- Affiliates & Subsidiaries
- Entry-level Positions
- Career Paths
- Majors Considered
- Size and # of Employees
- Competitors within Industry
- Relationship w/ Employees
- Professional Development
- Past History or Growth
- Present Market
- Projections for Future
4 Know the Position Description
Prior to the interview, have a complete description of the job and the required skills. You need to be able to articulate your understanding of the position and the demands. By understanding the requirements of the position, you will have a glimpse of what questions may be asked, and you can prepare in advance how you will communicate what you have to offer the organization. This preparation can help you gain confidence for the interview. Review the organization's information and job description thoroughly.
5 Practice Makes Perfect
You have now started the process of preparing for the interview by assessing yourself, understanding the field, researching the organization and clarifying the position. Next you will need to focus on the interview itself. Prepare to have an effective interview and practice. Take time to respond to common and difficult interview questions. Refer to the list of common interview questions below. You may assume you can answer the questions, but until you attempt to verbalize your thoughts, you will be unable to determine if your responses are clear, concise and effective. Be prepared to give specific examples and situations. This is where practice becomes so important. Ask a friend or roommate to interview you.
Career Services holds mock interviews four times each semester. UW-Green Bay's employer partners conduct the mock interviews with you, allowing you to simulate a real interview. They will provide constructive feedback and suggest possible areas of improvement for you to consider.
Get Practice Interview Questions
6 Prepare a List of Questions to Ask
Interviews go both ways. Remember, you're evaluating if the position and organization are a good fit for you, just as the potential employer is assessing if you're a good fit for the role. Having questions ready will make you look prepared and will also signal to the employer that you're carefully considering your options.
Questions you may want to ask the interviewer:
- I read the position description; could you provide me with additional information about the responsibilities of this position?
- On your website, I read about ________. Could you tell me more about that?
- What type of training or orientation would I receive if hired for this position?
- What might a typical workday be like?
- How many people work in this department? With whom would I be working?
- How will my work be evaluated?
- Are there any new projects anticipated for the organization in the near future?
- What types of career paths have others in this position followed?
- Why do you like working here?
- When will I be notified about your decision? What is the timeline of your selection?
7 Print Out Extra Resumes and Materials
Don't assume interviewers will bring a copy of your resume. If someone is without, you will look considerate and prepared by supplying them with a printed copy. Prepare any additional documentation needed by the employer such as a completed application, references, transcripts or your portfolio (if you will be using one in the interview process).
8 Arrive on Time
Make sure you have directions to the interview location and know how long it will take you to get there so you arrive on time. Plan for where you will park and make sure you have payment for any parking meters or parking ramps.
If the interview is virtual, be sure to test the platform in advance. Find an appropriate background or location for the virtual interview (not a cluttered bedroom). Make arrangements for a quiet, secluded location to minimize noise and distractions. Students can request to use private interview rooms through Career Services for virtual or phone interviews.
9 Dress to Impress
Dress professionally and feel confident about the way you look, err on the side of being overdressed. A basic black, blue or brown suit is the best way to go. Put a little more effort into your appearance for the interview – have well-trimmed hair, mustaches or beards, shine your shoes, clean your fingernails and clean your glasses. Avoid flashy colors or styles, and soiled, wrinkled or worn clothing or scuffed shoes. If you have a briefcase or professional-looking portfolio/pad-folio, you can carry your resume or other necessary documents. Learn more about ohw to dress for interviews.
10 Project Confidence and Enthusiasm
Even if you don't feel confident, pretend to be! Fake it 'til you make it. Use a firm handshake, maintain good eye contact, don't slouch or fidget and show sincerity. Most importantly, smile and be courteous to everyone you meet.
11 Take Time to Formulate an Answer
Listen to the entire question asked by the interviewer. After the interviewer has finished speaking, replay the question in your head, then think about your response prior to answering the question. Give specific examples. It is okay to take 3-5 seconds or more for a response. Don't jump to answer like you're on a game show! If you're having trouble coming up with an answer, ask the interviewer to repeat or reword the question. Your answer must include a specific example; do not answer, "In situations like that, I generally do..." Employers expect your answers to have specific examples and situations.
12 How to Answer Questions
Interviewers will seek specific examples and responses that will give insight to your skills. They'll usually say something like, "Tell me about a time when...What did you do?" One approach to answering questions is the STAR approach (Situation, Task, Action, Result):
- Explain the situation, or circumstances in which you were involved
- Describe the task at hand
- Describe the actions you took in that situation
- Finish answering the question by explaining the result of your actions
13 Write a Thank You Letter
After the interview, write a thank you letter as soon as possible. Many candidates forget this step, so by writing a thank you letter, you'll stand out.
14 When You'll Hear Back
There's not a set answer for this one. If you’re the first choice, you may receive a response very quickly. However, if you’re the second or third choice, you may not receive an immediate response, as the employer is contacting and waiting for a response from the other candidates.
15 What to Do if You Don't Hear Back
If you are curious about the status of your candidacy after the interview, you may contact the employer, especially after the date they had anticipated making their decision. Inquire as to the progress of the candidate search and ask about your current status. If you don't get the job, ask if they would be able to provide you any feedback. Suggestions from past interviewers can help you strengthen weak areas for future interviews.
16 How to Answer an Illegal Question
Federal Legislation prohibits interviewers from making hiring decisions based upon information gained through asking illegal questions. Examples include questions concerning age, national origin, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship and certain physical data. If you are asked an illegal question, try to avoid being confrontational. Instead, you could say, "Can you explain how this question relates to the qualifications for the position?" Also, please notify a staff member in Career Services. Our staff will follow up with the employer or keep the matter confidential if you desire.
Practice makes perfect.
Make an Appointment
Consider scheduling an appointment to visit with one of our staff members and participate in a Mock Interview. Our staff will ask you questions and provide you with feedback to help you best market yourself to an employer. To schedule a practice interview, call Career Services at (920) 465-2163. You could also participate in Mock Interview Day, where area professionals come to campus to help our students enhance their interview skills. Students sign up for a 30 minute interview slot.