Getting Ready to Interview
Know the organization and know yourself!
Just pressing your suit and memorizing facts on your resume will not prepare you for an interview! Experts suggest that you spend three to five hours researching the organization before your interview. You will impress the interviewer with your interest and preparation AND learn enough to decide if this job is right for you!
Be sure to dress professionally in a manner appropriate for the organization. When in doubt about "business casual attire or the nature of the organization, a business suit for men and for women is always appropriate. Use this resource for a good brief overview of interview dress or see the notebook of suggestions in the Career Center.
Suit! What Suit??
See Syms Dress to Achieve for traditional business dress but be sure to dress appropriately for your career field.
- Dressing (Women) Scientists for Success provides an example of career-specific dress although this example could apply to most academic positions.
- See also Dressing (Male) Scientists for Success for similar examples.
For most academic graduate program interviews, dress pants for men and women, dress shirts with a collar and/or a blazer should be fine. Professional programs like MBAs and med school require the higher standard of professional dress above.
Be sure to research this information
- What does the organization do? What are its size, location, product, or services?
- What can you learn about its competition or the industry sector it is in? Profit/nonprofit, service, manufacturing, entrepreneur...
- Where does your position fit into the organization?
- What are the organization's long and short-term goals/challenges?
Get ready to STAR in a behavioral interview.
One of the most common interview techniques in use today is behavioral interviewing. Based on the concept that past behavior predicts future behavior, employers will ask you to talk about experiences you have had and how you handled them to elicit information about your abilities. Think about the skills that are required for the job or may be key for your career field and prepare examples of times you have already demonstrated those skills. Have you ever used your team work skills for a class project? Your time management skills in a busy semester? Then you're ready to STAR in your answers! Use this technique to remember the examples you prepare. Some writers call these "stories".
- Situation -- describe a situation you have been in - a challenging class, a demanding job, a stressful internship OR a
- Task -- a project you completed (senior seminars), a committee you chaired,
- Action - the action you took and
- Results - what happened. How did it turn out?
Be prepared to explain why you are right for the job.
- Practice answers to these typical questions from Wise Bread.
- Know your skills and your education and how they apply to this position.
- Develop examples of where you used those skills.
- Be prepared with three or four examples of relevant experiences you've had or special projects you've completed. Personality traits – "I'm very hard-working" – are not enough.
- Be honest but be positive and enthusiastic.