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Interviewing

Interviewing for a job is a lot like auditioning for a role. It can be a challenging and nerve-racking experience, but with a little preparation and practice, you'll have the confidence you need to shine. Here are some pointers to help you deliver a five-star performance.

Preparing for the Interview

Know Yourself

  • Think about your skills, interests, and values. Consider your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Be able to discuss decisions you have made and the thought processes behind them.
  • Identify accomplishments you are proud of and things you might have done differently.
  • Think of examples to demonstrate how you have developed your skills.
  • Be able to articulate why you are interested in this field. 

Know your Employer and their Field

  • Research the employer, the position, and the industry or field.
  • Know what salary range is usual for this type of position and whether it fits within your target salary range.
  • Read current periodicals to learn about current trends in the field.
  • Review mission statements, annual reports, company literature and website.
  • Review the job posting for requested skills and prepare examples of how you demonstrate those skills. 
  • Dress professionally, plan your outfit ahead of time and make sure it is ironed/pressed and ready to go.
  • Make sure to allow plenty of extra travel time to get to the interview. Few things give a worse impression than showing up late for an interview.  However, try not to be earlier than 15 minutes as you don’t want to rush the interviewer or appear desperate.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and reduce stress prior to the interview so you'll be alert for the big day.

Practice for the Interview

  • Practice interview questions (See next page for sample questions, additional questions can be found online) with Career Services, a friend, and/or use a tape recorder to record and critique your answers.

Additional Tips

  • Dress professionally, plan your outfit ahead of time and make sure it is ironed/pressed and ready to go.
  • Make sure to allow plenty of extra travel time to get to the interview. Few things give a worse impression than showing up late for an interview.  However, try not to be earlier than 15 minutes as you don’t want to rush the interviewer or appear desperate.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and reduce stress prior to the interview so you'll be alert for the big day.

The Interview

Nonverbal Communication Skills

  • Greet the employer with a firm handshake and smile. First impressions are important!
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Use positive vocal qualities and facial expressions.
  • Sit with good posture and in an attentive position to demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm.
  • Don't adopt a casual pose -- even if your interviewer does. 
  • Avoid fidgeting.
  • Show your enthusiasm; passion for the job is one of the top characteristics employers look for in a candidate.

Verbal Communication Skills

  • Listen carefully to what is being asked and answer the question, using clear, concise responses.
  • Use proper grammar and avoid slang.
  • Don't exaggerate and don't be negative.
  • Be specific; refer to concrete experiences.
  • Ask appropriate and well-thought out questions –have them prepared in advance (see listed examples)

Interview Etiquette

  • Be nice to everyone in the office; you never know who has input into the hiring decisions.
  • Be your "best" self; let them get to know you and what you can bring to the organization.
  • Keep to the point. Don’t bring up extraneous matters. Be as specific as possible.
  • Don’t try to dominate the interview. Let the interviewer guide the questions.
  • Get the correct spelling of the person’s name and his/her exact title. Ask for a business card.
  • Don't call the interviewer by his/her first name, unless invited to do so.
  • Don't ask about salary and benefits until the employer brings up the subject.
  • Send a thank you note promptly.

Sample Questions Asked by Employers

Questions about your college experience

  • Why did you choose The Boston Conservatory?
  • Which classes and subjects did you like the best? Least? Why?
  • Describe your most rewarding college experience.
  • Have you participated in any extracurricular activities? What have you learned from participating in them?

Questions about your characteristics

  • What do you consider to be your major strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would a friend or a professor who knows you well describe you?
  • What accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction?
  • What is a major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it?
  • What motivates you?

Questions about your work experience

  • What have you learned from some of the jobs you have held?
  • What job have you enjoyed the most?
  • What kind of work environment do you prefer?

Questions about the position/employer

  • Why did you decide to seek a position with this firm/organization?
  • What do you know about our firm/organization?
  • What factors are important to you in a job?
  • How do you handle pressure?
  • How do you evaluate success?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years/ten years?

Open-ended questions

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What makes you unique?

Behavior Based Interviews

Behavior-based interviewing rests on the premise that past behavior (performance) predicts future behavior (performance). Examples of past behavior may be drawn from courses, work experience, activities or internships. Be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult director/manager.
  • Give me an example of a situation where you took a leadership role.
  • Tell me about a time where you functioned as part of a team and what your contribution was.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.

Suggested Responses to Tough Interview Questions

Why should we hire you?

Here's the chance to really sell yourself. You need to briefly and succinctly lay out your strengths, qualifications and what you can bring to the table. Be careful not to answer this question too generically. Set yourself apart by telling the interviewer about qualities that are unique to you.

What are your greatest weaknesses?

The secret to answering this question is being honest about a weakness, but demonstrating how you have turned it into a strength. For example, if you had a problem with an organization in the past, demonstrate the steps you took to more effectively keep yourself on track. This will show that you have the ability to recognize aspects of yourself that need improvement, and the initiative to make yourself better.

Describe a problem situation and how you solved it.

Sometimes it is hard to come up with a response to this request, particularly if you are coming straight from college and do not have professional experience. Interviewers want to see that you can think critically and develop solutions, regardless of what kind of issue you faced. Even if your problem was not having enough time to study, describe the steps you took to prioritize your schedule. This will demonstrate that you are responsible and can think through situations on your own.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

The secret to this question is being specific and selecting an accomplishment that relates to the position. Think of the qualities the company is looking for and develop an example that demonstrates how you can meet the company's needs.

Sample Questions to Ask During an Interview

An interview is meant to be a two-way street, during the interview, or at the end, you should ask questions to determine whether you would be happy in the position or with the company. Not asking questions is passing up a chance to stand out from the competition. Before the interview, prepare a list of questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the company and interest in the position.

  • What type of growth and advancement opportunities does this position and the company offer? 
  • What are the goals for this department/organization/firm for the upcoming year?
  • What do you see ahead for your company in the next five years? 
  • What is the company's culture?
  • Why did you choose this company?
  • What were the major strengths and weaknesses of the last person who held this job?
  • Could you describe a typical day or week in this position? 
  • What are the most immediate challenges of the position that need to be addressed in the first three months? 
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?

The End of the Interview

At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Make a short, concise summary of your qualifications and stress your interest in the position:

"This interview has convinced me that my abilities match your needs. I am very interested in the position. Could I call you in a few days to check on the status of my application?"

After the Interview

Within a few days after your interview, send a thank-you note to reinforce your interest and ability to excel in the role. A carefully crafted message will advance your candidacy and leave a positive, lasting impression with the hiring manager long after you've left. This is your opportunity to mention any experiences or skills that were not discussed in your interview. Try to offer new information while reiterating your interest in the position. Use resume-quality paper and type the letter and envelope.

Analyzing the interview and talking about how you were feeling during and after it can be very helpful in preparing for the next interview. 

  • Discuss the interview with someone who listens well and cares about your success.
  • Compare notes with others who have gone through the interviewing process.

Information pulled from www.careerbuilder.com

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