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Life After College: Preparing for the Interview

Preparing for the Interview
Job interviews are like first dates. Good impressions count, awkwardness can occur, and outcomes are unpredictable.

Academic and Career Services Center at DWU

The Academic and Career Services Center is here to help you find and use your strengths, connect your talents with your educational goals and give you the clarity and focus you need to succeed well after you graduate from DWU.

Academic and Career Services can help you prepare for an interview, write and edit your resume, and locate jobs and internships. 

Contact Information 

Kristy Zink
Phone: (605) 995-2904
Office: McGovern Library 202


Interview Etiquette

Proper etiquette is very important when it comes to your interview. Remember, your interview starts the moment you drive into the parking lot and ends when you drive away. Here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind during your interview. 

Arrive 10-15 Minutes Early

There is a saying that five minutes early is ten minutes late. If you show up 10 or 15 minutes early, you are showing the interviewer that you are ready and prepared. If you have to wait in the lobby for a little while, that is okay. Its better to be early than to be late.

Watch Your Body Language

Humans are visual creatures and we read body language just as much as we read language. Make sure your body language says you are interested, welcoming, and happy to be at the interview. If you think positive, your body will mimic positive. Sit or stand tall with your shoulders back, take a deep breath to manage your feelings of anxiety, and make eye contact.

Shake Hands Firmly

Give a firm handshake (but don't go too aggressive). This shows you are confident and ready to go.

Make Eye Contact

Look at the interviews while you answer their questions and articulate your points. Eye contact shows you are confidant in your answers. 

Pay Attention & Be Engaged

Be attentive when others are speaking and asking questions. Nod to show you are listening and ask follow up or clarifying questions if appropriate. 

Treat Everyone with Respect

This includes people on the road and in the parking lot, security personnel, and front desk staff. Treat everyone you don't know as though they're the hiring manager. Even if they aren't, your potential employer might ask for their feedback. 

Questions to Ask in an Interview

It is highly recommended to ask your interviewer relevant and thoughtful questions. By asking questions, you will gain a better understanding of if the position is right for you, as well as showing the interviewer that you have a genuine interest in the position. 

Here are a few questions to ask: 

  1. Can you elaborate on the day-to-day responsibilities this job entails? 
  2. What are the characteristics of someone who would succeed in this role?
  3. What's the most important thing I could do to help within the first 90 days of employment?
  4. What are some of the challenges you've seen people in this role or on this team encounter? 
  5. If I were in this job, how would my performance be measured?
  6. What does the career path for someone in this role look like?
  7. What other functions or departments does this team work with most often?
  8. What do you like best about working here?
  9. How would you describe the company culture?
  10. What type of educational or training opportunities does the company offer?
  11. What are the next steps of this process, and when can I expect to hear from you?
  12. Is there any other information I can provide you with?
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Preparing for an Interview

Analyze the Job

Print out the job description and read through it. Make sure you know what is required for the position. Also, consider what the company is seeking in an employee. Jot these down with the position requirements. 

Match Your Skills

With the list above, match your accomplishments and skills with the requirements of the position. Where do you fit in with each item on the list you created? 

Research the Company

Take the time to learn a little about the company. Explore their website and social media. You want to find out as much as possible about the company as possible. This will also help you think of questions to ask during the interview. 

Practice Interviewing

Take the time to answer the interview questions you will probably be asked. This will help your nerves because you won't be scrambling to think of an answer on the spot. 

Prepare Your Interview Clothes and Accessories 

Set out your interview clothes the night before. This will keep the panic from setting in when you need to get ready. Make sure your clothes are wrinkle free (and get the iron out if needed). Also, think about your hair, makeup, and any accessories you will be wearing. Having everything planned out in advance will save you from additional morning nerves. 

Get Directions

It is important to know ahead of time where you need to go for your interview. Use Google Maps to get directions to the company. If you have time (and are able), do a practice run a day or two before the interview to make sure you know where you are going, and can get an idea of how long it will take you to dive to the company's location. 

Prepare and Ask Questions

A common mistake interviewees make during the interview is not having any questions to ask. This can make you come across as not being interested or not doing your research about the company beforehand in order to have questions for the interview panel. Check out the list of possible questions to ask at the end of the interview. By having a few questions ready to ask about, you won't blank the day of the interview. 

Be Prepared to Answer

Tell me about yourself. 

Most interviews will start off with this question. Prepare an elevator pitch about who you are. Give about 2-3 sentences about your career path and how you ended up in this interview.

Why do you want to work for name of company?

Not only does the interviewer want to know why you want to work for the company, but they also want to see what you already know about the company. 

Tell me about something on your resume.

Everyone has something on their resume they are proud of. This is the time to highlight the skill or work experience that you are most proud of. And show how the skill or experience made you into the worker or person you are today. 

Why are you looking for a job? / Why are you looking for a different job?

Be honest but stick to the positives. Think about why you are looking for a job: Are you a recent graduate and interviewing for your first real job? Are you looking for a career change or change in corporate environment? Are you leaving your current job for this one, and why?

Why should we hire you?

Keep in mind that the interviewer is looking to hear what skills you are going to bring to the company and the position. Now is the time to let your skills and qualifications shine. 

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Focus on your career goals and be realistic. If you plan to work for this company for five years, make sure you know and understand what the potential career growth is. If the position isn't one with a lot of future growth opportunities, you can simply answer that you are not certain what your future is going to look like, but you believe that the position you are interviewing for will help you navigate in the right direction. 

Tell us about a conflict you faced at work and how you dealt with it.

This question is important because it helps an interviewer understand how you deal with conflict. It also helps to test how well you think on your feet, so if you prepare an example ahead of time, you'll avoid the awkward moment of silence trying to think of an answer. 

How do you deal with stress?

You want to show that you can handle stress in a professional and positive manner that helps you continue working or won't stop you from accomplishing your goals. Be specific and explain what you actually do to deal with stress (such as taking a quick walk around the building or crossing items off a to-do list). 

What are your greatest strengths?

This question allows you to talk about both your technical and soft skills. Answer by sharing qualities and personal attributes, relating them back to the position you are interviewing for. 

What is your greatest weakness?

When answered correctly, this can show that you are self-aware and want to get better at your job. Start with the weakness and then discuss the measures you've taken to improve or combat the weakness. This lets you end the question on a positive note. 

Can you tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it?

The interviewer wants to see how you perform when under pressure, and it will show them your problem-solving abilities. Strive to show and not tell, and let your human side shine through a bit. 

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