Interviews

Nervous about interviewing? Every spring the Center for Career and Vocation organizes mock interviews. Alumni and community members volunteer their time to "interview" students for the experience.

Explore these resources to prepare for your first, or your next interview:

What you should research before: 

THE BASICS

  • Directions to the office
  • Headquarters location
  • Idea of domestic and international branches
  • Relative size (compared to other organizations)
  • Annual billings, sales and/or income (last 2 years)                
  • Subsidiary companies; specialized divisions
  • Departments (overall structure)
  • Major accounts, products or services
  • Major competitors
     

THE SUBTLETIES

  • History of the firm (specialties, honors, awards, famous names)
  • Names, titles, backgrounds of top management
  • Philosophy and goals
  • Opportunities for employment and growth
  • Existence (and type) of training program
  • Relocation policy
  • Relative salaries (compared to other companies by field or by size)
  • Recent developments concerning the company or its products or services
  • Potential for growth

 

Strategies: 

  • The objective of the interview is to see if your paper image stands up in real life and if you are a good "match" for the organization
  • There are three different types of interviews: Informational, Screening and Selection. 
  • Make an impression by being yourself, smiling, making eye contact, being enthusiastic, projecting yourself into the job and having a firm handshake. 
  • Dress to show you take the interview seriously. Wear a conservative business suit, light cologne/perfume and have clean nails, neat haircut, fresh breath
  • Bring what you think will support your case: extra resume copies, portfolio, writing utensil, professional folder, transcripts, letters of recommendation or list of references. 
  • Questions related to age, religion, handicaps, race, color, gender, national origin, marital status, children and child care arrangements are illegal.
  • If you're asked a question you cannot answer, ask for clarification or say you do not know. 
  • Do not ask about salary or benefits at the first interview
  • You should have questions prepared for the interview. >>> questions to ask 
  • At the conclusion, summarize why you want the job, how you are qualified and what you can offer. 
  • Write down notes from the interview and organize information collected. 
  • Immediately send a thank you to all who interviewed you. 

 

Questions employers ask: 

The Endicott Report
  • What goals have you set for yourself?
  • Who or what has had the greatest influence on the development of your career interests?
  • What factors did you consider in choosing your major?
  • Why are you interested in our organization?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What two or three things are the most important to you in a position?
  • What kind of work do you want to do?
  • Tell me about a project you initiated.
  • What are your expectations of your future employer?
  • What is your current GPA? How do you feel about it? Does it reflect your ability?
  • How do you solve conflicts?
  • Tell me how you perceive your strengths? Your weaknesses?
  • What work experience has been the most valuable to you and why?
  • What was the most useful criticism you ever received and who was it from?
  • Give an example of a problem you have solved and the process you used.
  • Describe a situation that best demonstrated your analytical skills.
  • What has been your greatest challenge?
  • Describe a situation where you had a conflict with another individual, and how you dealt with it.
  • What were the biggest problems you encountered in college? How have you handled them? What did you learn from them?
  • What are your team player qualities?
  • In a particular leadership role you had, what was the greatest challenge?
  • What interests or concerns do you have about the position or the company?
  • Describe your leadership style.
  • What idea have you developed and implemented that was particularly creative or innovative?
  • What characteristics do you think are important for this position?
  • How have your educational and work experiences prepared you for this position?
  • Take me through a project where you demonstrated planning skills.
  • How do you think you have changed personally since you started college?
  • Tell me about a team project that you are particularly proud of and your contribution to it.
  • How do you motivate people?
  • Why did you choose the extracurricular activities that you did? What did you gain? What did you contribute?
  • What types of situations put you under pressure, and how do you deal with the pressure?
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you have made.
  • Give an example of a situation in which you failed and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a situation when you had to persuade another person to your point of view.
  • What frustrates you the most?
  • Knowing what you know now about your college experience, would you make the same decisions?
  • What can you contribute?
  • How would you react to having your credibility questioned?
  • What characteristics are most important in a good manager? How have you displayed one of these characteristics?
  • What challenges are you looking for in a position?
  • Are you willing to relocate or travel as part of your career?
  • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
  • Describe a leadership role of yours and tell why you committed your time to it?
  • How are you conducting your job search and how will you make your decision?
  • What is the most important lesson you have learned in or out of school?
  • Describe a situation where you had to work with someone who was difficult. How was the person difficult, and how did you handle it?
  • We are looking at many great candidates. Why are you the best person for this position?
  • How would your friends describe you? Your professors?
  • What else should I know about you?
 

Adapted from the Northwestern Lindquist-Endicott Report, The Placement Center, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. 1991.

 

Questions you should ask: 

  • How many individuals complete your training program each year?
  • When does the training program begin?
  • What is the length and structure of the training program?
  • Do most trainees advance fairly rapidly through the training program?
  • What career paths have others generally followed after completing the training program?
  • How does the position and the department contribute to the overall company mission and philosophy?
  • What is typical day (assignment) in your company?
  • What characteristics best describe the individuals who are successful in this position?
  • Does the position offer exposure to other facets of your organization?
  • What other positions and/or departments will I interact with most?
  • To whom does this position report?
  • How much decision-making authority and autonomy is given to new employees?
  • How will my performance be evaluated?
  • How often are performance reviews given? By whom are they given?
  • Are employees ever transferred between functional areas?
  • What are the opportunities for relocation?
  • Does your organization encourage its employees to pursue additional education?
  • How would you describe the organizational culture and environment?
  • What makes your organization different from its competitors?
  • What industry-wide trends are likely to affect your organization?
  • What are your organization's strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What would you say are the biggest changes the organization has undergone in the last five years?
  • What changes do you anticipate in the next five years?
  • What is the greatest challenge your organization faces during the next year?


Adapted from the Northwestern Lindquist-Endicott Report, The Placement Center, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 1991.