Job Interview Process
The job interview process can be intimidating, but with practice and useful tips this can be accomplished. The Starr Career Development Center is here to guide you through this process and land a job! The following tips and tricks have been helpful to many students and have allowed students to maintain that confidence that is needed during interviews.
- What is the purpose of an interview?
- For the employer: to assess your fit for the organization
- For you:
- To sell your strengths/qualifications to the employer so that they see you are a good fit for the position
- To learn more about the employer and the position
Three questions employers ask themselves:
- Can you do the job?
- Relevant knowledge, training, skills (technical and soft), and experience
- Personal qualities and attitudes necessary to do the job well, that are not present on your resume!
- Will you do the job?
- Are you applying to this job just to apply? Or are you applying because you are passionate about the company or industry?
- Will you fit in?
- Personality fit and general alignment with company culture
Key Characteristics Employers Seek:
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills (both written and verbal) to ensure that you can represent the company well in public
- Team collaborator to ensure that you can work well with your team!
- Knowledge of company’s mission and projects
- Strong analytical/problem solving skills
- Genuine interest in the company
- Positive attitude and enthusiasm to tackle situations
Benefits of being an International Student or Scholar:
- Cultural diversity and global perspective: This will give you a different perspective/mindset that may be different that domestic students are used to.
- Insight into your field and specialization
- Language Skills: Having fluency in multiple languages can benefit you in your work field
- Adaptability: Showing employers that you can easily adapt to new cultures, it is a great skill!
- Demonstrated ability to overcome obstacles: This can help highlight your strengths and weaknesses
Possible Challenges for International Students:
- Language Issues
- Thought process, small talk and content
- Mechanics (grammar, pronunciation, tone)
- Solution: audio or video record of your voice and check your progress
- Expressions and Idioms
- Solution: watch tv, read books, fiction and magazines, learn conversational topics and the way people talk
- Expressions and Idioms
Is it politically correct?
- Some topics may be sensitive to certain cultures, and you need to reassure that you are not overstepping any boundaries or disregarding any common courtesy
- Having small talk is very important, but ensure that you will not offend anyone in doing so
Expectations for Interview Questions:
- Factual/traditional – yourself and your background
- Tell me about yourself ( 3 or 4 main points about you, keep it short and simple!)
- What courses have you taken in this field?
- Behavioral – asks for specific experiences that demonstrate skills or a quality. Past behavior indicates future performance
- Tell me about a time you initiated a project/change at work (predicts how you may handle future situations) (talk about a time that may help promote your skill set)
- Hypothetical/Situational – how you would handle a situation/approach a problem
- If you were leading a team, how would you handle strong disagreements among your team members? (break this down into steps, “My first step would be to understand both parties and their reasoning…” etc.)
- Technical – checks your knowledge/understanding of specific areas of an industry
- Walk me through a cash flow statement
Use the acronym “STAR” to provide structure
- Situation & Task(s)
- What was the situation or problem? What were you trying to achieve?
- What action did you take?
- What was the outcome based on the action you took? Provide details and quantify your results where possible
- What lessons did you learn, skills did you gain, and/or qualities did you develop through this experience that will help you contribute to the employer’s team in this position?
Refer to one example, and focus more on the actions and results, rather than the situation and framework.
Before the interview
How to prepare:
- Research organization and industry
- Study the job description so you can link your experience to the position
- Reflect on your experience and identify examples that demonstrate the skills and qualities that the employer is looking for
- Be prepared to speak about everything on your resume
- Prepare questions you may want to ask at the end of the interview (5-10 questions)
- Practice, practice, practice!!!
- Starr offers mock interviews, which many students find helpful before their interview! Make an appointment on Starr Search!
Tips for Phone/Zoom Interviews:
- Learn about the person that is interviewing you
- Focus on listening and being present
- No distractions (no food, music gum)
- Be ready 15 minutes before your interview
- Find a quiet, well lit location that has little to no clutter behind you
- Ensure that there are no interruptions during the interview, notify any roommates or family members of your interview
- Take notes
- Keep answers clear and to the point
- Pausing to think before answering is better than using filler words (ex: like, um)
- Asking the interviewer to repeat a question is okay!!
- Be prepared to ask questions at the end
- Smile! You’ll sound more enthusiastic and friendly!
- Have resume ready to upload to the interviewer if not already provided
- Dress professionally
The Day of the Interview (In Person)
- Know the employer address and how to get there
- Know the names of the interviewers
- Arrive at least 10 minutes before the interview and be courteous to the receptionist/assistant and everyone else!
- Dress professionally always!
- Bring plenty of resumes
- Ask for business cards/next steps in the process
Components of Communication
- Verbal Content: What you say
- Vocal: Tone of Voice
- Non-Verbal/Body Language:
- Facial expression
- Eye contact
In sum… Think of the 3P’s!
- Purpose: Think about why you want the job and be able to articulate that to the employer. If you’re not sure, it’s about time to take a step back and decide whether this is the right opportunity for you.
- Prepare: Identify specific features about the company and the position that resonate with you by conducting as much research as possible. At the minimum, know the job description, mission/ “about us” page, any recent current events, and the leadership team
- Practice: Rehearse! Answer commonly asked interview questions OUT LOUD until you feel confident with your answers. Starr offers mock interviews, which many students find helpful before their interview! Make an appointment on Starr Search!
after the interview
Follow up after the Interview:
- Always send a thank-you note/email within 24 hours of the interview
- A standard note will say “thanks and nice to have met you.”
- A strategic note will say “thanks, nice to meet you” AND will reiterate the main points of the interview and emphasize why you are the best candidate for the position
- Mock Interview Module (Starr Search)
- Tools for Clear Speech
- Conversation Partners
- The Grammar Girl https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGrammarGirl/videos