The interview is the employer's opportunity to assess your fit for a position and the organization as a whole. Regardless of the format (phone/video or in-person, one-on-one or panel), most interviews take a common sequence:
Introductions - A few minutes of small talk to set the tone of the interview.
Information - Brief summary of the employer, position, and possibly, the format of the interview.
Qualifications - Questions and answers about your qualifications for the position.
Conclusion - Explanation of next steps in the selection process.
Interview Stream is an online tool that allows you to simulate job interviews, respond to pre-recorded questions and practice both verbal and non-verbal communication skills via webcam.
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Before the Interview
- Research the organization's purpose, structure, strengths, and challenges.
- Obtain a complete copy of the position description.
- Evaluate your interests, skills/abilities, and weaknesses for the position/organization.
- Practice interviewing with a Career Counselor or employer through Career Services.
- Prepare professional and appropriate attire for the position.
- Know the exact location of the interview and plan to arrive 10 minutes early.
During the Interview
- Be courteous to everyone you encounter; staff may be asked for their input on your interactions.
- Turn off your phone and do not use it while waiting for the interview.
- Stay positive and show enthusiasm for the position.
After the Interview
- Send a thank you note to each of your interviewers.
- Follow-up with a phone call or email if you have not heard from the employer within the time period indicated for a decision.
This question is your chance to summarize how you fit the position. Consider covering:
- Your strengths as they relate to the position
- Why you chose your academic major
- Experiences that have reinforced your strengths and interest in the field
- Why you are interested in this position with this organization
- End with a clear, positive summary statement.
- Why are you interested in this position and our organization?
- What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
- Of which accomplishments are you proud?
- Tell me about a time you failed.
- Describe a time you did more than was expected or required.
- Why should we hire you?
- Why did you choose your major?
- What classes did you like best? Least?
- Do your grades reflect your ability?
- Why did you choose to attend your college or university?
- Do you think you received a good education? In what ways?
- In which campus activities did you participate?
- Which classes in your major did you like best? Least? Why?
- Which elective classes did you like best? Least? Why?
- If you were to start over, what would you change about your education?
- Do you think your grades accurately reflect your ability? Why or Why not?
- Were you financially responsible for any portion of your college education?
- Give an example of a solution you provided an employer.
- What did you enjoy most about your last job? Least?
- Describe a situation that challenged your communication skills.
- Give an example in which you worked under a deadline.
- What unique qualifications do you have that other applicants may not?
Career Goals/Work Style
- Where do you want to be in 10 years?
- How do you feel about travel/relocation?
- With what kind of supervisor do you do your best work?
- Tell me about a conflict you had with a client or co-worker?
- Describe a project or assignment in which you used teamwork.
- What kinds of assignments can I expect in the first six months?
- What are the primary challenges I will face in the position?
- What is the largest problem facing your staff or department?
- What is the next course of action in your search process?
For these questions, tell a brief but descriptive story with a:
- beginning (describe the situation or challenge being faced)
- middle (describe the action that you specifically took)
- end (describe the results)
Information interviews involve talking with people currently working in a career field to gain a better understanding of an occupation, organization or industry. The informational interview provides first hand experiences and impressions of someone in the field. It is also an excellent way to build your network of contacts in that field. However, it is not appropriate to ask for a job during an informational interview.
Identify Contacts: Start with lists of people you already know: friends, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors, neighbors, etc. Professional organizations, organizational directories, and public speakers are also good resources.
Request the Interview: Contact the resource person by telephone or letter. You can also have someone who knows the interviewer make the appointment for you.
- Phone- Plan and practice what you will say in advance. For example,
"Hi, my name is ______ and I'm a student at UNL. I got your name from ______. You're in a career field that I'm interested in, and I was hoping that you could help me gain insights into the profession. I'm sure that my questions could be answered in a 20-30-minute informational interview."
- E-mail - If you use a letter or e-mail it should be a professional introductory letter. Be sure to include information about how you can be reached. If you indicate that you will follow up in some way, be sure to follow through on time.
Ask politely. If the person you are contacting agrees to the interview, select a time and location that works for both of you. Be as flexible as possible with your schedule and indicate how much time you are looking for. 30 minutes is a good starting point.
Prepare: Dress professionally and be on time. Research the person and organization as much as possible before the interview. Don't ask basic questions that can easily be answered elsewhere. Ask for the person's insight, opinions and advice.
Conduct the Interview:
- Listen. Be ready with a list of open-ended questions and be prepared to listen more than you talk.
- Take notes. Write down anything that might be important. Ask follow-up questions.
- Be brief. Keep track of time and don't overstay your welcome. Be sure to stick to the amount of time you initially requested of the person.
Follow Up: Be sure to send a thank-you card or letter within one to three days after the interview. This is a great way to stay in touch and leave a positive impression. Indicate that the person was helpful and that you appreciate the time they spent with you.
Phone and Skype Interviews
Increasingly, interviews are conducted remotely. Prepare for a phone or skype interview just as you would for a regular interview. Identify your strengths and weaknesses for the position and prepare for typical interview questions. Additional planning and preparation can make these alternatives more successful.
- Ensure the room will be quiet and free of disruptions
- Keep the job description and your resume handy so you can refer to them.
- Have a pen and paper ready for note taking.
- Use a landline if possible.
- If using a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged and you have a strong signal.
- Become familiar with the technology and allow plenty of time to set up and test it.
- Dress professionally as if an in-person interview.
- Have a pen and paper ready for note taking.
- Maintain an uncluttered, professional background.
- Look at the camera rather that the screen to maintain proper eye contact.
A private room is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the Career Resource Center (225 NU) for phone or video (including Skype) interviews. Call Career Services to reserve the space.