Interview Skills

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An interview is a conversation between an employer and a candidate for both parties to learn more about each other for the purpose of filling a position within a company or organization. You and the interviewer each have a need: you want a job and the interviewer wants to find the right person to fill the job. If you receive an interview, chances are you have already been “prescreened” and meet all or most of the requirements the employer is looking for in a candidate. Typically this prescreening has been done through an application process and/or resume review. The interview is an opportunity for further screening. Through an interview both parties start to form impressions of whether a “fit” exists between your qualifications/personality and the organization/position.

Three main areas employers typically look at in the selection process: What can you do for us? If hired, how can you contribute to the department and/or organization differently than other interview candidates? This can be demonstrated through your educational background, prior experience, special skills and knowledge. Why do you want to work with us? An employer wants to make sure the candidate chosen has a solid understanding of the organization, department and position. If not, chances are the individual will not be a good hire, which can lead to ineffectiveness, resignation or termination. All scenarios cost the employer resources, time and money. As a candidate you need to state why you want to work in a particular industry, for a particular organization and/or department. Also, you need to convey to that employer that you have a realistic picture of the job and how this industry/position fits within your short and long term goals. What are you like once we’ve gotten to know you? Employers are looking at areas such as your motivation, initiative, creativity, problem-solving abilities and team-work skills, and how these skills will continue once you are hired and part of the organization and department. Also, an employer is looking for a good personality fit within the organization and department.

Many candidates have a false idea that interviews are only a one-way process. Of course an employer is interviewing you, but you also need to interview that employer and organization. Use the same criteria as an employer. What can you do for me? How can the organization, department and position grow my professional development?

Why do I want to work for you? How does this organization, department and position fit into my short and long term career goals? Do I have a good understanding of this industry and the position expectations for me to develop my career and enjoy my work? What are you like once I have gotten to know you? Is this an organization and department I would like to work for? Is this a group of people I would like to spend a minimum of eight hours a day with?

Interviews are typically thought of as one of the most stressful aspects of the job search. It is natural, and expected, that you will be a little nervous for an interview. In fact, having some adrenaline is good: it means that you care, and it will keep you on your toes. The key, however, is not to reach a level of such anxiety and tension that it begins to have a negative impact on the interview. The key to maintaining your nerves is preparedness. It is common to hear students say, “Interviews are hard because I don’t know what they are going to ask me,” or “I have no way to prepare.” How many times have you gone into an interview and left thinking, “Why did I say that?”, or “Why didn’t I say that?” The idea that you can’t prepare for an interview is completely false! There is a great deal of work you can do prior to an interview that will make you much more competent in your answers and much more comfortable in your demeanor. The...
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