How and with whom?
You can participate in mock interviews by contacting a career advisor at the Career Development Center and arranging a time to meet. It is sometimes possible to have the interview videotaped in order to help you see how you interview and allow you a chance to critique yourself. The career advisor also critiques you and suggests ways in which you may improve.
How many times?
Mock interviews should be conducted as many times as it takes for you to feel ready and confident in your interviewing abilities. There is no set minimum or maximum. Career advisors are available by appointment and may meet with you as many times as is necessary to help you.
Types of Interviews
The Screening Interview
This is a common type of interview for those companies engaging in on-campus recruitment. In most cases, these interviews are conducted by human resources professionals.
The main goal of the screening interview is to quickly determine if you are qualified, rather than to get to know you in depth. Your goal for this type of interview is to prove that you have the qualifications necessary for the position and to secure the second interview. A typical screening or on-campus interview lasts approximately 30 minutes.
The Office Visit
At most companies and organizations, the second interview is more specific than the screening interview. At the screening interview, the prospective employer gets straight to the point to determine whether your specific skills, training, and profile match the detailed duties and descriptions of the position in question. For technical positions, you may even be required to take a skills measurement test or inventory.
During this phase of the interview you will meet with three or four people within the organization, including managers and supervisors. Do not be surprised if you find yourself in a situation with multiple interviewers.
The office visit interview is difficult to always anticipate, so it's important to call prior to the interview and find out as much information as you can. Find out exactly with whom you will interview and their titles, how long the process will take, and whether all the interviewers have copies of your resume.
The Final Interview
As a rule you can be well assured that most companies conduct at least two interviews. Especially with large companies, you can expect two or three interviews or more. If the final decision has not been made by the second interview, you may be considered for another.
If you have been identified as one of the top two or three candidates, you will then have an interview with people at an executive level. This interview will try to get at issues such as your work ethic, attitude, career goals and personality.
If you make it to a third interview, there is no doubt that you're qualified for the position. Now it's a matter of "fit." Therefore, be knowledgeable about the organization's philosophies, goals and objectives. Be able to convince the interviewer that you understand them and could work toward helping the organizations achieve these goals.
The Behavioral Based Interview
Behavioral interviewing is a new style of interviewing that more and more companies and organizations are using in their hiring process. The basic premise behind behavioral interviewing is this: The most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. It provides a more objective set of facts to make employment decisions than other interviewing methods. Traditional interview questions ask you general questions such as "Tell me about yourself." The process of behavioral interviewing is much more probing and works very differently.
Important Points About Behavioral Interviewing:
Employers predetermine which skills are necessary for the job for which they are looking and then ask very pointed questions to determine if the candidate possesses those skills. To assess which skills the employer is seeking, talk with alumni, read the company literature carefully, and listen closely during the company's information session. Some example skill sets are:
Questions Asked in Behavioral Interviewing
- Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
- Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself from a difficult situation.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
- By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations, and environments.
- Describe a time, on any job that you held, in which you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
- Give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
- Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communications skills in order to get an important point across.
- Give me a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.
- Give me an example of an important goal which you had set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it.
- Describe the most significant or creative presentation which you have had to complete.
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
- Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person, even when that individual may not have personally like you (or vice versa).
- How would you resolve a situation in which there was not consensus within a group?
- Describe a situation in which you had to take a leadership role.
- Tell me about a time when you applied school work to real life.
Suggestions for Responses to Interview Questions
In the interview you may be asked...
Following are questions typically asked by employers. Take time to think through your responses and develop the best possible answers. If you take the time now, you'll find it is much easier to go through the interview feeling confident and not being caught off guard. If you have doubts about your answers, ask for help by contacting a career advisor or someone in a professional field that is knowledgeable about the interviewing process. Note: Most of these questions are open-ended and the answers are more revealing. They give you an opportunity to market yourself during the interview, but only if you are prepared!!
Commonly Asked Questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why did you choose to attend Saint Joseph's College?
- Why did you decide to major in _______________?
- Could you compare your team player versus entrepreneurial spirit for me?
- How did you come to know about the company?
- What do you know about this company and what interests you the most?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What are your short-term/long-term goals? How will you benefit by achieving them? What plans have you made to achieve them?
- Tell me about a few of your accomplishments.
- What are your greatest strengths/skills?
- Why are you interested in this particular job?
- What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
- What do you think you can do for us that someone else can't do just as well?
- What qualities should a successful manager possess?
- What else do you think I should know about you?
- What would you like to know about our company?
Additional Questions that may be Asked of More Experienced Candidates or Candidates with Internship Experience
- Tell me about your current employment? Why are you leaving?
- How did you obtain your last position?
- What did you like most/least about the job?
- What were your responsibilities in your last job?
- How has your career growth been representative of your ability?
- Have you ever made any suggestions to top management?
You Probably Want to Know/Ask
It is important that you prepare questions for the interviewer. Think of information that you would like to have or need pertaining to the position you are seeking or the organization that will be interviewing you. Ask questions that will provide you with valuable information and express a sincere interest in knowing what you are asking.
Note: Don't ask all of the questions on this list. Remember: be respectful of the interviewer's time and schedule.
Following are some suggestions for questions you may want to ask:
- How did you start with the organization?
- Could you describe the work environment?
- To whom does the position report?
- How many subordinates, if any, report to the position?
- What has become of the person that previously held the position? Is it possible to talk to him/her?
- What are you looking for in a successful candidate?
- What are the objectives for the person hired in this position?
- What would be a typical first year assignment?
- What promotional opportunities will be available to me, assuming I do an exceptional job?
- Does the company have a promotion from within policy?
- What are the company's objectives for the next year?
- What is your timetable for filling this position?
- Have I told you everything you need to know about my background? Do you have any concerns?
- What is the next step?
- Whom would I see next? When? What is his/her title?
Questions To Avoid Asking
There are certain questions that are inappropriate to ask, especially in a first interview. Let the interview bring this subject up first. Matters of salary should not be discussed unless the interviewer brings them up. Also, be respectful of the interviewer and his/her time. Remember to be tactful and polite. Following are questions you should not ask in an interview:
- When will I be promoted?
- What is the salary?
- What is the benefit package?
Closure In The Interview
Once all questions and answers have been exchanged and it is time for the interview to end, you will want to do the following:
- Ask the interviewer what the next step will be.
- Thank the interviewer for his/her time, shake his/her hand firmly, and try to use his/her name.
- Request a business a card from the interviewer.
- Reiterate your interest in working with the organization.
After the interview go to a place where you can relax and be comfortable. Take notes on the things you felt went well during the interview, and then think of those things that didn't go so well. Then, reflect on how you would change certain responses or reactions. Asking yourself these types of questions will help you better prepare yourself for the next interview. The next time you interview, you should follow the same steps.
- What would I have done differently?
- Which questions took me by surprise and why did the interviewer ask them?
- What background, skills or personality traits did that position require? Is there a fit between myself and that position, that organization?
- Did I feel comfortable in that environment? Why or why not?
- Did I use effective body language?
- Did I feel confident throughout the interview? Was I nervous and fidgety?
Follow-up After the Interview
Always write a thank you note to the interviewer following the interview. If there was more than one interviewer, write a separate and different letter to each. Use Specific references to your conversation during the interview, pointing out the skills and experience that ensure your success in the position. Affirm your interest in the position, the company, and in taking the next step, if you're still interested. If not, use the letter in an attempt to start a networking relationship.
Inform your references that they may be receiving a call following your interview. It is best if they can be prepared to answer questions, so let them know directly after the interview.