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Preparing for the Interview

This document provides tips for preparing for a job interview. It recommends researching the organization and job description thoroughly. It also suggests practicing answering common interview questions and considering questions to ask the interviewer. Proper communication skills and etiquette during the interview are emphasized, including dress, listening skills, and thank you notes afterwards. Researching the company and position, practicing responses to typical questions, and maintaining strong nonverbal communication are key to interview preparation.

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PREPARING FOR
THE INTERVIEW
KIMBERLY WHITE
INTERNSHIP COORDINATOR
RISE3 INITIATIVE
BIRMINGHAM-SOUTHERN COLLEGE
INTRODUCTION
Congratulations! You have made it to the interview. Here are
some ideas for preparing for the interview, from your
approach, to your answers and nonverbals, to your follow up.
Consider the following when preparing for an interview:
• Research the organization and know the job description
• Answers to common interview questions
• Consider what other types of questions may be asked
• Prepare questions
• Communication and first impressions: How are you
presenting yourself
• What will you wear?
• How will I follow up?
BEFORE: RESEARCH
Before stepping into the interview, you want to make sure
that you take the time to research the organization and learn
the job description.
Researching the organization
• Check their websites, social media feeds, and what they
put out to the public
• Learn the organization’s mission and how they live their
mission
• What are others saying about this company?
• What questions do you have about the department, office,
or organization? For the interview, for informational
interviews?
BEFORE: RESEARCH
The internship or job description
• Reflect on each item of the job description and how your
skills might fit in
• Consider transferable skills, experiences that you’ve had
or impact that you’ve made that may relate to what the
position is seeking
• Consider how your coursework relates to the internship or
to the job
• How can you demonstrate industry knowledge and a solid
understanding of the organization as it relates to this
position?
BEFORE: CONTENT
Researching both common interview questions and questions
that pertain to your industry will be helpful in anticipating how to
approach the interview, while feeling prepared and confident.
Draw from all of your experiences
• Reflect on how your leadership roles, service relate to what
you’re applying for
• Your answers should focus on the skills you’ve obtained, rather
than what type of experiences you have
• Ex. Event planning, working in a team, fundraising for your
philanthropy, social media marketing  all part of what you all do
now
• How can I relate these skills back to the position?
• How can I use these experiences to demonstrate my
knowledge?
Consider the future
• How does this internship, or job, relate to the goals I’ve set for
myself? How can I best articulate this in the interview?
BEFORE: CONTENT
Self-reflection is incredibly important to the interview
preparation process, particularly for behavioral interviews.
Go deeper than simply describing your experience
• How can I effectively convey my strengths, and opportunities
for growth, through my experiences?
• “Opportunities for growth”
• One helpful way to tackle the “weakness” question is to
consider the steps that you’ve taken to make yourself aware
of where you need to grow, and how you’ve sought to turn this
challenge into a strength
• Direct application of your skills and impact to this opportunity,
not simply re-hashing what you’ve already done
• How can you sharpen your public speaking, event planning,
etc. skills in this position?
Practice your answers, but don’t rehearse them. You never
know what you’ll be asked, and remember – an interview is
simply a professional conversation!

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Preparing for the Interview

  • 1. PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW KIMBERLY WHITE INTERNSHIP COORDINATOR RISE3 INITIATIVE BIRMINGHAM-SOUTHERN COLLEGE
  • 2. INTRODUCTION Congratulations! You have made it to the interview. Here are some ideas for preparing for the interview, from your approach, to your answers and nonverbals, to your follow up. Consider the following when preparing for an interview: • Research the organization and know the job description • Answers to common interview questions • Consider what other types of questions may be asked • Prepare questions • Communication and first impressions: How are you presenting yourself • What will you wear? • How will I follow up?
  • 3. BEFORE: RESEARCH Before stepping into the interview, you want to make sure that you take the time to research the organization and learn the job description. Researching the organization • Check their websites, social media feeds, and what they put out to the public • Learn the organization’s mission and how they live their mission • What are others saying about this company? • What questions do you have about the department, office, or organization? For the interview, for informational interviews?
  • 4. BEFORE: RESEARCH The internship or job description • Reflect on each item of the job description and how your skills might fit in • Consider transferable skills, experiences that you’ve had or impact that you’ve made that may relate to what the position is seeking • Consider how your coursework relates to the internship or to the job • How can you demonstrate industry knowledge and a solid understanding of the organization as it relates to this position?
  • 5. BEFORE: CONTENT Researching both common interview questions and questions that pertain to your industry will be helpful in anticipating how to approach the interview, while feeling prepared and confident. Draw from all of your experiences • Reflect on how your leadership roles, service relate to what you’re applying for • Your answers should focus on the skills you’ve obtained, rather than what type of experiences you have • Ex. Event planning, working in a team, fundraising for your philanthropy, social media marketing  all part of what you all do now • How can I relate these skills back to the position? • How can I use these experiences to demonstrate my knowledge? Consider the future • How does this internship, or job, relate to the goals I’ve set for myself? How can I best articulate this in the interview?
  • 6. BEFORE: CONTENT Self-reflection is incredibly important to the interview preparation process, particularly for behavioral interviews. Go deeper than simply describing your experience • How can I effectively convey my strengths, and opportunities for growth, through my experiences? • “Opportunities for growth” • One helpful way to tackle the “weakness” question is to consider the steps that you’ve taken to make yourself aware of where you need to grow, and how you’ve sought to turn this challenge into a strength • Direct application of your skills and impact to this opportunity, not simply re-hashing what you’ve already done • How can you sharpen your public speaking, event planning, etc. skills in this position? Practice your answers, but don’t rehearse them. You never know what you’ll be asked, and remember – an interview is simply a professional conversation!
  • 7. BEFORE: QUESTIONS Have a list of questions for your interviewer(s). Take notes during your research on where you may need clarification, and learn more about the interviewer as an individual. 5-6 questions is ideal, as some of your questions may be answered in this conversation. Consider questions such as: • What is the interviewer’s vision for the position (short- and long-term?) • What are some challenge someone new to this position, or organization, may face? • What does the interviewer find most rewarding about the work that they do? • Could the interviewer explain [aspect of position description] in more detail? • What types of skills, traits, and actions would set someone up for success in this position?
  • 8. DURING THE INTERVIEW Don’t let your nerves get in the way of your preparation! Be gracious from start to finish. The following items are always helpful to bring with you: • A notepad and pen (to write down questions, comments, and ideas in between interviews) • Copies of your resume (it’s always better to have them!) • A portfolio containing examples of your work, where applicable • A “review” sheet with some of the research you’ve done, to glance at before the day begins • A (silenced!) cell phone • Comfortable shoes, for certain situations such as on- campus interviews with a campus tour component
  • 9. DURING: COMMUNICATION Oral and written communication skills are key for many different internships or full-time opportunities, but your nonverbal language is just as crucial to your success. Consider: • What are you wearing to the interview? What does it say about me as a professional, and does it make me feel confident? Note: Always dress slightly more professional than you would dress for an average day at the office. • How am I introducing myself and pitching my elevator speech? • Also, how am I speaking? Calmly, confidently, and taking pauses where needed • How can I be a more effective listener, and demonstrate my level of engagement with the interviewer(s)? • Posture, hand gestures, and presence when giving a presentation, if applicable
  • 10. DURING: ETIQUETTE For many interviews, in both internship opportunities and full-time positions, you may have a meal with the interviewer(s). Consider: • All aspects of my communication style, and how I am coming across during the meal • Be gracious, professional, and respectful • Keep the conversation light-hearted and professional • Be observant: You have the opportunity to see how this group of potential future coworkers interacts in a different setting • You’re interviewing them, too! • Brush up on basic dining etiquette, including place settings • Order a meal that is easy to eat and is least likely to cause accidents • Refrain from alcohol
  • 11. AFTER: FOLLOW-UP Thank the interviewer(s) for their time, and send along either a handwritten or e-mail note after the day is over. • Reference specific aspects of the interview in the note, such as a point that the interviewer(s) made that was particularly salient to you • Consider the best ways to address thank-you notes when interviewing with multiple professionals • A note for each professional? A note for each group of professionals that you met with in each time slot? A note to the search committee? • This will depend on you and your comfort level
  • 12. REFERENCES No Author (2014). How to use body language to score in an interview. The Undercover Recruiter. Retrieved from http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/body-language-score-job-interview/. Armstrong, T. (2015). Five things to do before an interview to impress a hiring manager. NerdWallet. Retrieved from http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/recent-grad/impress-hiring-manager/. Lininger, M. (2011). Dining etiquette. Etiquette Scholar. Retrieved from http://www.etiquettescholar.com/etiquette_scholar/dining_etiquette.html. Smith, J. (2013). How to ace the 50 most common interview questions. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/01/11/how-to-ace-the- 50-most-common-interview-questions/.

Editor's Notes

  1. Thank you so much for having me! [Quick introduction] So I want to take some time to share basic information about building your resume, because it’s an important step in your professional development while you’re a student. Building a resume isn’t just about internship or job experience, but what types of skills that you have and will help you succeed at your desired career choice(s). Leadership positions, volunteer experience, and extracurricular activities should all be featured, and you should be able to talk through what projects you worked on, what skills you gained through the experience (Budgeting? Leadership? Project management? Ability to work in a team? Discipline?), and how you can apply those skills to things like internships and your career in general.