By: Chelsie Rimel
The most recent post in this series described how to write a stellar résumé and cover letter. Well, you’ve landed that interview! So how do you prepare? Start by reading this blog post on how to have an awesome interview! After reading this post, take a look at the Career Guide which has a lot of helpful information regarding the interview process.
The key to acing an interview is to practice. Practice really does make perfect. Think about potential interview questions and how you would answer them. It is very important to answer questions in a professional and conversational manner. Also remember that an interviewer can ask a wide variety of questions. Whatever the inquiry, the bottom line is the same: the interviewer is trying to see if you are a match for the position and the organization. Here are some of the most common questions and the do’s (and don’t’s) to answering them:
1. “Tell me about yourself.”
• Do: Give a short version of your résumé- talk about how your experience and skills make you qualified for the position.
• Don’t: Ramble on and on. Keep your answer to about one or two minutes. Also remember to keep your answers appropriate and work specific. Don’t talk about hobbies or recreational activities.
2. “Why do you want this position?/Why do you want to work for this organization?”
• Do: Give an honest answer and throw in some facts about the organization. Research the organization beforehand that way you can talk about how you can be an asset to them
• Don’t: Get caught off guard. If you can’t talk about the organization and its mission, the interviewer will think that you are not really interested in the position or passionate about their vision
3. “What is your biggest weakness?”
• Do: Be honest. Everyone has room for improvement. Be sure to mention the steps that you are taking to better yourself in that problem area.
• Don’t: Give a cookie-cutter answer like, “I’m a perfectionist.” Believe me, the interviewer has heard that before. Don’t be afraid to recognize skills that need improvement. (If you’re not sure about your strengths and weaknesses, then complete the LEAD assessment!)
4. “Give me an example of a time when you had to manage your time wisely.”
• Do: Remember that week you had four exams? This is the time to talk about how you studied, did not procrastinate, and prioritized. Keep your answer brief- about a minute.
• Don’t: Say that you don’t have a good example. If you do not give an example, the interviewer may think that you do not have effective skills that are crucial to the job. The interviewer expects that you have challenged yourself throughout your college career.
5. “So do you have any questions for me/any questions about the position?”
• Do: This is typically the last question in the interview. Yes! You have questions! You always have questions! Ask the interviewer why he/she likes working for the organization, ask about the opportunities for professional development, ask about a typical day in the position you’re interviewing for. Bottom line: Ask a question
• Don’t: Say no. You are probably nervous and can’t wait for the interview to be over but don’t just answer no to quickly leave the interview. Remember, show interest in the organization!
Be sure to practice, practice, and practice. Feeling prepared will give you a sense of confidence that will shine through during your interview. After you interview, be sure to send a note or email thanking the interviewer for the opportunity. The next blog in the series will address how to properly accept and decline internship offers.
Coming soon: Internships 101: Part 4- Accepting and Declining Offers