How to Ace Your Interview (And Actually Get the Job)

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You have the experience and skills employers are looking for in an entry-level position, and you’re getting the interviews. But when it comes down to the job offer, nothing is happening.

Remember that an interview is one way that a company evaluates your ability to express ideas, finds out more about your skills and experience, and  determines how and if you will add value to their organization. The steps you take to prepare, whether for an initial screening or an on-site interview, will bring you closer to actually getting the job offer. Below are some tips to help strengthen your interview skills.

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH

  • Make sure that you understand and the company where you’re applying–look at their website, their mission/vision statement, what projects they’re currently working on, and any news about the organization.  You can also look up people currently and previously employed at the organization on LinkedIn to see how they describe their work.
  • Review the job description and get a good sense of the qualifications they want in a candidate.
  • Come to the interview prepared to discuss the company, the role, your background, trends in the industry, and how you see yourself fitting into the organization.

2. NETWORK

  • Find out if Whitman alumni work at the organization and initiate contact.
  • Talk with people currently filling similar roles outside the organization and in varying roles within the organization and schedule an informational Interview to find out more about the industry.

3. PREPARE

  • Practice strategies to answer anticipated questions with thoughtful responses.
  • Be prepared with examples that demonstrate your use of skills that fit the position.
  • Don’t tell, DEMONSTRATE! Give specific examples and connect these examples to skills the employer wants using the STAR approach:

                              S=SITUATION,   T=TASK,   A=ACTIONS,  R=RESULTS

4. PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!

  • Write down answers to possible questions.
  • Schedule an appointment with the Student Engagement Center, or meet up with friends or family and rehearse.
  • Here are three types of interviews that you might encounter: behavioral, panel, rapid fire
  • Clarify why you want to work for the organization and why they should hire you. The more you rehearse, the more confident you will be when the actual interview happens.

5. FINAL TIPS

  • Breathe.
  • Remember to smile.
  • Make it a conversation – interviews are not interrogations.
  • Bring something to write on and write with.
  • Dress professionally to the industry standard.
  • Have 3-5 questions prepared to ask the interviewer/committee.
  • And last but not least: write a prompt thank you note (ideally handwritten and mailed, but at least an email) – it makes a difference!

Remember, the Student Engagement Center staff is available to you even after graduation. If you need help with interview practice, schedule an appointment through Handshake

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