INTERVIEW GUIDELet us help, visit us today:248 Flanner Hall | careercenter. nd.edu(574) 631-5200 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Types of InterviewsKeep in mind that any contact you have with the employer is part of the decision making process and allinteractions will affect how you are perceived. Make sure your cell phone is off anytime you are meetingwith an employer—whether attending a pre-night, a dinner, or an official interview.Behavioral InterviewsBased on the premise that the best way to predict future behavior is to determine past behavior, this style ofinterviewing is becoming more and more popular with recruiters. By focusing on the applicant’s actions andbehaviors, rather than subjective impressions that can sometimes be misleading, interviewers can make moreaccurate hiring decisions.Phone InterviewsThere are different types of phone interviews. A recruiter may call unexpectedly to conduct a pre-screen.The purpose of the pre-screening is to ask a few key questions before going further in the interview process.A scheduled phone interview is an in-depth pre-screen before the site interview. In some cases, for exampleinternships, the scheduled phone interview is the actual interview. If the phone interview is the actualinterview, applicants are hired solely on the basis of the phone interview. Scheduled interviews can lastanywhere from 15 minutes to one hour.Video Conference and Web InterviewsIf an employer wants to schedule a video conference or web interview, The Career Center has equipmentavailable. Please call (574) 631-5200 to schedule the use of our video conference room or to request tocheck-out a web cam for your interview.Case InterviewsSome companies, especially those involved in consulting, are concerned not only with your experience in aparticular area, but also with your ability to address unfamiliar, complex problems and reach logicalconclusions based on available facts. In essence, they want to test your ability to solve problems that may arisein a real-life situation while working for them. The emphasis here is on your thought process. You willusually be evaluated in several of the following areas: Logical reasoning Ability to structure problem-solving Creativity Intellectual curiosity Quantitative skills Enthusiasm Business judgment (not business Ability to think quickly knowledge) Ability to perform under pressure PragmatismTypically, you will be presented with a set of facts, ranging from simple hypothetical situations to complexcharts, graphs, data correlations, etc. It is up to you to assume the role of the professional. The followingresources can help in your preparation: Ace the Case: McKinsey & Company: http://www.mckinsey.com/careers http://www.acethecase.com The Vault: Guide to the Case Study Boston Consulting Group: Interview: http://www.bcg.com/careers https://careercenter2.nd.edu/libraryOffice InterviewsMore information specifically regarding Office Interviews is available at the end of the guide.
Interview PreparationPreparation is the most important part of your job or internship interview. You can maximize your interviewsuccess with advance planning, self-assessment, and interview practice. Review and complete the following10 planning activities before your job or internship interview. 1. Knowledge of yourself: know yourself in terms of skills, interests, values, and future aspirations. 2. Career direction: well-defined goals, confidence in pursuing a chosen field of interest, and realistic plans for advancement. 3. Communication skills: ability to deliver ideas, clear and concise answers, and verbal animation. 4. Qualifications: be aware of and able to communicate specific academic training, leadership experience, critical thinking skills, and extracurricular involvement. 5. Maturity: demonstrated by poise, optimism, appearance, and tone of voice. 6. Professionalism: communicate a strong work ethic, high moral values, and integrity. 7. Execute a game plan: prepare to “sell yourself” in terms of relating your interests, skills, and goals. 8. Conduct a mock interview with a recruiter, career counselor, former employer, or even a friend—this is the key to success! 9. Do not memorize answers but know how to communicate the contents of your resume and your top reasons for pursuing the opportunity. 10. Write down 25 words that describe you prior to the interview—be familiar with these self-descriptors and feel comfortable delivering them in the interview: “I am: motivated, confident, dedicated, loyal, a problem solver, a team player, ethical, etc.”Employer ResearchConducting thorough company research is vital to an effective interview. Employers view researching thecompany as a critical factor in applicant evaluation because it demonstrates the candidate’s interest andenthusiasm for their company.The Career Center has developed “Interview Checklists,” included on the following page, based on the type ofemployer you are interviewing with to help in your preparation. Where to Find the InformationVault Online Career Library Idealist.orghttps://careercenter2.nd.edu/library http://www.idealist.org/if/i/en/npofaqFeatures industry guides, employer profiles, The Nonprofit FAQ provides comprehensiveoccupational profiles, and more. information on all aspects of the business of nonprofits.Factivahttp://bic.library.nd.edu Federal Agency DirectoryIncludes company news, financial information, http://www.lib.lsu.edu/gov/index.htmlkey competitors, and more. The Library provides a breakdown of federal government agencies by type.Market Insighthttp://bic.library.nd.edu Index of U.S. Government Departments and AgenciesContains industry information. http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/ All-GuideStar Agencies/index.shtml Indexed by name and topic.http://guidestar.orgRegister and use for researching nonprofits.
Interview ChecklistsThe following checklists include information pertinent to the type of organization you are interviewing with –for profit, nonprofit, and governmental agency. These lists are meant to provide guidelines to help in yourpreparation.For ProfitOrganization Knowledge Company history Principle products/line of business Company mission Primary locations Company leaders (CEO, etc.) Stock price Organizational structure Stock trendsIndustry Knowledge Industry background/general information Relative size in industry Competitors: position’s career path Industry trends and factsCurrent Events New products/lines of business Recent news articles about organizationNonprofit Organization Organization website Who comprises the Board of Directors Organization mission CEO or President of the national and/or Populations served international levels of the organization Executive Director Partnerships with community, other Local, regional, national and world aspects agencies and organizations, corporations of the organization Important information from Annual Size of local, national organization Report Volunteer structure and size Recent news How the organization refers to its Primary sources of funding constituents – clients, guests, patrons, membersGovernment Agency Public service mission Sector of the population to which agency’s Recruiting terminology services are directed Political appointments, elected, and hired Top position titles and person’s names in positions within the agency agency Partnerships with nonprofit agencies Level of government at which the agency Contracts and business relationships with functions (city, state, federal) corporations Branch of government Relationship of government agency with Counterpart of the agency at the different which you are interviewing to other levels of government government departments or agencies; Recent news articles differences between focus of public services and connection between them Size and jurisdiction of office with whom you are interviewing and its parent agency
The InterviewThe face-to-face interview is the most common type of interview. The first few minutes are absolutely critical tointerviewing success. Many interviewers will make a snap judgment about you – good or bad – and spend therest of the interview validating the first impression. You need to be comfortable with your own style, and beprepared to present an attitude that reflects your sincere interest in getting the job. Exhibit confidence,enthusiasm, and a high level of interest during the first minute of the interview. Be yourself and do it your ownway, but do it!The Warm-Up (3-5 minutes) Greeting: smile, firm hand shake, look the employer in the eye, be confident Establish rapport Explain structure of interview Verify data on resume, etc.Gather Evaluation Data (15-20 minutes) Open-ended questions: prepare answers for these questions Behavioral questions Probing questions Determine whether match exists: Are you right for the employer? Vice versa? Strengths, liabilities, weaknessesAnswer Questions/Offer Information (3-5 minutes) Explain training program Describe position Answer candidate’s questions: Prepare questions in advanceClose Interview (2-3 minutes) Learn about what happens nextSample Interview QuestionsNo two interviews are alike. In each interviewing experience there will be questions you were not asked inprevious interviews. However, there are a number of questions that seem more common than others, and theseare the questions you should think about before each interview. A majority of interviewers will steer away fromstandard directive questions and concentrate more on open-ended situational or behavioral questions. Commonthemes include applications of analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills; leadership development;creativity; teamwork; and personal development.1) Why are you interested in our organization? 9) What types of situations put you under pressure and2) What work experience has been the most valuable to how do you deal with the pressure? you and why? 10) Tell me about a situation when you had to persuade3) Give an example of a problem you have solved and the another person to your point of view. process you used to solve it. 11) Describe a leadership role you have held and tell me4) Describe a situation in which you had a conflict with why you committed your time to it. another individual and how you dealt with it. 12) What challenges are you looking for in a position?5) What idea have you developed and implemented that 13) In thinking about a past position you have held, what was particularly creative or innovative? did you do to make your duties more effective or more6) How did you choose to attend Notre Dame and how did challenging? you select your major(s) in _______? 14) What three trends do you see in the future for our7) How do you think you have changed personally in the industry? past five (5) years? 15) Tell me about yourself.8) Tell me about a team project of which you are 16) Why do you want to work in (career field)? particularly proud and your contribution. 17) Why do you feel you will be successful in this program? 4
18) What is your greatest strength/weakness and how will it 23) Describe a time when you added value to an existing affect your performance in this program? work process.19) Describe a team-oriented accomplishment in which you 24) What characteristics do you think are important for this participated as a member of the team. position?20) Describe one of the toughest competitive situations you 25) Describe a situation in which you were criticized and have faced and how you handled it. how you responded.21) What are some of the most creative things you have 26) How has your education at Notre Dame prepared you done? for a __________ position?22) What has been one of your greatest disappointments and 27) Where do you see yourself in 5 years? how did you respond? 28) What has been the biggest accomplishment in your life? 29) Why should I hire you?The Psychology Behind Common Interview QuestionsIt is important to know that some employers ask questions that seem very simple; however, the hidden meaningbehind the questions may not be simple at all. Adapted from the book Money Jobs.When Interviewers Ask You What They Really Want to Know IsDescribe yourself. What in your Can you take an incredible amount of information, organize itbackground qualifies you for this job? quickly in your head, and present it in a concise and articulate fashion?What are your greatest strengths and Are my perceptions of your strengths and weaknesses the sameweaknesses? as yours? How mature are you in dealing with your weaknesses? Can you identify methods for self-improvement?Where do you want to be five years from What motivates you and what do you want out of life? Is thisnow? job merely a stepping stone to something better?Why this job? Why this organization? Have you done your homework? Are you analytical?How would your peers describe you? How do you see yourself? Are you a leader or follower? (A quiet confidence is needed here, not arrogance or egotism.)What makes you think you’ll succeed in Have you accurately identified the skills and expertise neededthis organization? to succeed? Can you prove you have them?Why should we hire you? What do you How are your promotion and persuasion skills? Are youbring to this job? believable? If you can’t sell yourself, how will you be able to sell our products/company/ideas?
STAR – Technique for Answering Interview QuestionsSITUATION (Class project, student activity, volunteer experience, job…) Example: As a member of the Mechanical Engineering Club…TASK (Goal, problem to be solved, improvement to be made…) Example: …I suggested establishing a mentoring program for area junior high students to increase their interest in science and as a way for engineering students to explore careers in teaching.ACTION (Planning and implementation done to reach goal, solve problem, etc.) Example: We formed committees to research the topic, develop procedures, policies, and marketing ideas. To recruit participants, we designed a direct-mail post card to send to all junior mechanical engineering students. Then we presented our proposal to a local middle school drafting class.RESULT (The outcome, influences, changes, etc.) Example: Ten pairs of students were active in the mentoring program for a year. As seniors, two engineering graduates entered the teaching profession and the junior high students started an environmental concerns club after school.Questions to Ask the Interviewer1) To what extent will I be responsible for determining 12) What is a typical work week for a (position) in your my work objectives? company?2) Describe the rotational training program associated 13) How much decision-making authority is given to with this position/internship. How is employee new employees? performance evaluated during the training period? 14) Does your organization encourage its employees to3) What career paths have others generally followed pursue additional education? after completing the program? 15) What other positions/departments will I interact4) As an intern, what kind of projects will I receive? with the most?5) What characteristics best describe individuals who 16) What are the key business reasons driving the need are successful in this position? for this position?6) Where could a person advance who is successful in 17) Describe the three top challenges that I’ll face in this this position? Within what time frame? job.7) In what ways has this organization been most 18) What has to happen for you to know you’ve hired the successful in terms of products/services over the past best person? several years? 19) What are the key deliverables and outcomes that this8) How is job performance evaluated? position must achieve?9) What has been the professional growth track for 20) Describe the top three initiatives for your other students who have been recruited by your company/department and how this position is linked company over the past 3-5 years? to these initiatives.10) How would you describe the culture of your 21) What are the key metrics for measuring success in organization? this position?11) If I work hard and prove my value to the company, where might I find myself in five years?
Interview DressThe primary goal in dressing for an interview is to feel good about the way you look while projectingan image that matches the requirements of the position and company.Guidelines for WomenSuits, Dresses: Conservative business suit, pantsuit, or dress of natural or woven-blend fabric; skirtlength should be to the bottom of the knee at least. Choose a soft color that complements your skin toneand hair color; beige, black, navy, or gray. Make sure your clothes are not too tight or too loose.Blouses: Simple style. Avoid low-cut necklines or very frilly styles.Shoes: Polished pumps or medium heels in color that matches your outfit.Stockings: Beige, tan, or natural. Avoid patterns or lacy stockings.Purse: Not necessary, but if you bring one it should be of small or medium size in a color that goes withyour outfit.Guidelines for MenSuits: Preferred dark blue, gray, or muted pin-stripes. Muted brown or black also acceptable. Aquality woven blend of natural fibers looks professional. Avoid bold pin-stripes, contrasting slacks andsport coat, or light colors.Shirts: A nice quality white button-down or white classic collar is preferred. Oxford blue or mutedstripe is also acceptable. Be sure it is ironed.Ties are a MUST: Conservative stripes or paisleys that complement your suit. Silk or good qualityblends only.Shoes: Highly polished slip-ons or laced dress shoes; brown, cordovan, or black.Guidelines for Both Men & Women Avoid unkempt hair or over-the-top hairstyles Avoid excessive perfume or cologne Manicure nails and clean handsBusiness Casual AttireBusiness casual does not mean casual. It does not mean that you can dress however you want—you arestill expected to look professional. For men, a business casual wardrobe should consist of several long-sleeved cotton oxford shirts; cotton polo or golf shirts; chinos in acceptable colors (khaki, dark blue,olive green, or stone); wool slacks; and a sport coat. For women, shirts or blouses are acceptable,sweaters or knit tops will also work. Pants should be non-denim fabrics that complement the top. Theaddition of a fashionable jacket is always a nice touch.
The Office VisitThe office visit is usually the final stage of the interview process. A job offer for a full-time position israrely made without a second interview, which is typically held onsite, but can also be on-campus. Thepurpose of this interview is for the employer and the student to become better acquainted with oneanother. Make sure that your cell phone is turned off the entire time you are with the employer—including events on the evening prior to the interview.PreparationAs with the first round interview, preparation is key to success at this stage of the interview process. Inthis scenario, the people conducting the interviews—your prospective peers and superiors—will beprimarily interested in whether you can do the job and work well with them. To prove that you can,focus on your internship and work-related experiences and offer examples of your competence andcompatibility.You also will need to demonstrate that you’ve done your research—that you know who the company isand what it does, and have some idea about what the job would entail. That will confirm your interestin working for the company, which is a major factor that employers consider when they make theirhiring decisions.Travel ArrangementsWhen an invitation is extended for an office visit, the company will typically cover travel expenses andmay assist with travel arrangements—however, do not assume that this is the case. If you are uncertainabout your travel arrangements, be sure to clarify with the employer prior to leaving for yourinterview.The Evening Prior to The InterviewIf you are meeting with a representative from the company the night prior to your interview, rememberthat this is part of the interview process. Dress professionally and conduct yourself in an appropriatemanner at all times. Be sure that you know the time and location of the meeting and arrive a fewminutes early. Everything that you say and do will factor in to the employer’s final decision as towhether or not they extend an offer.Typical Schedule for a Day-Long Interview 8:30 – 9:15 a.m. Candidate arrives at Office/Human Resource Department 9:15 – 10:00 a.m. Human Resource interview (and/or testing – could last one hour) 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Facilities tour (usually conducted by Human Resource representative assigned as the day’s host) 11:00 – 11:45 a.m. Interview I 11:45 – 12:30 p.m. Interview II 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. Lunch with Human Resource and/or selected others, usually a young hire from the candidate’s alma mater 1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Interview III 2:30 – 3:15 p.m. Department Head Interview 3:15 – 3:45 p.m. Human Resource Department / Wrap-up / Travel ExpensesIt is advisable to call the recruiting contact at the company to inquire about the specific schedule foryour office visit so you know what to expect and can prepare accordingly.
Additional QuestionsIn addition to those mentioned earlier, the following are additional suggestions of questions to ask yourinterviewer at the office visit.Questions to Ask the HR Representative 1) What is the typical career path for this position? 2) Do employees have the opportunity to express their ideas? 3) Does this job require a great deal of travel? 4) How often are performance reviews conducted?Questions to Ask Your Prospective Supervisor 1) What would be my primary responsibilities? 2) What are some of the department’s special projects? 3) How much contact would I have with middle managers? 4) How much interaction would I have with superiors, colleagues, and clients?Questions to Ask a Prospective Co-Worker 1) Can you describe a typical workday? 2) What do you like best/least about working for this company? 3) Do you feel free to express your ideas and concerns? 4) Do you have the opportunity to work independently?Group InterviewsAlthough a series of individual interviews is the most common format for the second interview, somecompanies may arrange for you to meet with several staff members simultaneously. Success in this situationoften hinges on the same strategies you would use in individual interviews. In a group interview, you mustbe able to: demonstrate awareness of the company and its goals elaborate effortlessly on your resume maintain a positive attitude, and make good eye contact (first with the person who asks a question, and then with the others in the interview
Interview Follow-UpFollow-up is critical to during the interview process. A thank you letter, restating your interest in theposition and company, should be sent within 24 hours of each interview, and should be sent to each personthat you spoke with.Additional Follow-UpTake no further action until at least one week beyond the date when they said they would contact you. Atthat time, a phone call to see if a decision has been made is appropriate.Sample Thank You LetterYour NameYour AddressYour City, State, Zip CodeYour Phone NumberYour EmailDateNameTitleOrganizationAddressCity, State, Zip CodeDear…,It was a pleasure to meet with you to speak about the Marketing Representative position at ABC Company. Ibelieve my skills and personality match well with what your organization is looking for in an employee.A Marketing Representative needs to be creative, organized, and enthusiastic which are all characteristics Iobtained through my internship at XYZ Marketing. In addition to my internship, my Bachelor of Arts inMarketing has given me the knowledge to be successful in the marketing industry.If given the opportunity, I believe I can make valuable contributions to your organization.I appreciate the time you took to interview me. I am very interested in working for you and look forward tohearing from you about this position.Sincerely,Your SignatureYour Typed Name