Interview Preparation and the Interview

Preparing for your upcoming interview

Company research

Once you have received an invitation to interview, it’s time to pull together all your resources to become better informed about the company and the position you are applying to. Continue to research the company’s website for information about the organization. Connect within your network to find out additional pieces of information and feedback about the company.

You may be asked, “Tell me what you know about our organization.” However, the interviewer may not be so direct as to ask in those words. Either way, in the process of the interview they will want to see how much you do know about them. Provide dialogue deeper than just the surface of the front page of their website.

Mock Interviews

Practicing your interviewing skills and responses to typical and potential interview questions is a great way to prepare for your upcoming job interview. It gives you the opportunity to talk through potential responses. Nervousness and anxiety about an interview is not uncommon. Mock interviewing can also be a way to reduce some of those stresses.

Types of Interviews

Screening Interviews: A shorter interview intended to get a better sense of who you are as a candidate and the way you convey how you match the job requirements. They are either conducted by phone, face-to-face or virtual (ie. Skype).

  • Typically lasts between 30 – 60 minutes.
  • Can be conducted with 1 – 10 people.
  • Smile. The caller may not be able to see your face, but you will convey a more positive manner.
  • Prepare 2 – 3 questions to ask at the end of the interview. If they do not let you know what the next steps are, make sure to ask.
  • Once you have established the particular details of the interview, you can ask who will be participating in the interview (if they have not already shared that with you).

For phone or virtual interviews:

  • Be in an area that is free of outside noise and distractions. Go to a quiet location where you will not be interrupted.
  • For virtual interviews, be cognizant of what is visually in your background. Select a clear space to sit for the interview.
  • Speak clearly and pace your discussion. If you are on a cell phone, you want to make sure they are able to hear your answers.
  • Virtual interviewing can present a slight challenge with interview discussion. Allow a moment or two between question and response as there is often a delay.
  • Even for a phone interview, dress for an interview. It might sound odd, but psychologically, you are more apt to be in the interviewing state of mind.
  • If you only have a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged and that you are in an area that has good cell service.

Full interview: After the initial screening interview, organizations select those individuals who will go on to the next phase of interviewing. This interview can last anywhere from 1 hour to a full day (or two days), depending on the type of position you are applying to and the culture of the organization. There can be:

Panel interviews: Interviews conducted by a large group of individuals within the organization that will interact with the person who accepts this position.

Small group interviews: A series of interviews with small groups of individuals.

Presentations: Depending on the type of position, you may be asked to present a scenario that is related to the position, a creative presentation on selling a product or concept or possibly a response to a case study. They will typically set a time limit and allow for questions and answers at the end of the presentation. 

Questions Asked by Employers

Be prepared for a variety of interview questions. It is expected that you will be asked some behavioral type of questions which give the interviewers a sense of your background and how you would handle potential scenarios that arise in their organization. Technical positions will have questions that are technical-based that explore your knowledge of platforms used, types of coding and may also include some type of test scenario.

More and more the questions like, “Tell me about yourself” and “Describe your strengths and weaknesses” are being replaced with more creative ways to find out about you, your experience, your skill sets (critical thinking, problem solving, communication) and some insight into how you handle situations and your thought process.

Glassdoor  is a job search resource that offers insight into jobs and organizations. Each year they share the Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions. Before you even have a mock interview, take a look at their site to get an idea of what types of questions are asked.

Questions for You to Ask

Make sure to prepare several questions for you to ask during the interview. From the employer perspective, it is not a good sign if you don’t have any questions for them. Don’t forget, the interview is a two-way street. The company is interviewing you and you are also determining if this is the right fit for you.

Don’t ask about salary and benefits. There will be a time for further discussion later on in the job interview process.

Show that you have done your homework on the company and come up with questions that show you have put thought into your research on the organization and how you can fit into their future.

Follow-up

For each stage of interviewing, make sure to send a thank-you note by the following day to each of the individuals who interviewed you.

Do not send a group email, send a separate, personalized email to each person.

Express your enthusiasm for the position and ask about the next step.

If the interviewer/s indicate a decision will be made within a certain time frame, and you have not had an update, it is acceptable to follow-up again. You should wait until after the time frame has passed before reaching out.

Questions?

We’re here to help.

SUNY Empire’s Student Services is a partner in your successful college experience.

518-587-2100, ext. 2201
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