Interviewing is a skill, and with preparation and practice you can get through even the toughest interview questions. Many applicants don’t realize how critical preparation is – please don’t expect to walk in and “wing it” successfully. Preparation and practice is the key to developing the skills to make the most of any interview situation.
Read This Before the Interview
So many individuals just starting to job hunt unintentionally make mistakes that destroy their chances for a successful interview, we wanted to catch your attention! So we’ve rounded up the most important things to avoid when interviewing first, just in case any of them might be sabotaging your best efforts.
11 Tips for Interviewing Success:
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Learn from each and every interview experience.
- Ask yourself, “What did I do well?” and “What can I improve on for next time?”
- Keep a record of the interview questions you get asked to use for practice for future interviews.
- Start and keep an interviewing file of practice questions, your answers, and tips you learn along the way.
- Use this file to also track interview history — including the names, titles, and contact information of the people who interviewed you, because they can be a valuable networking resource.
- Identify your top 3-5 personal attributes that make you valuable to an employer.
- Research companies and positions before you interview to be knowledgeable about who you are interviewing with and how you fit the position.
- Be prepared, dress professionally, and make a positive lasting impression.
- Always have questions prepared to ask the employer at the interview.
- Follow-up with a professional thank you email or hand-written note.
For detailed information on how to interview like a pro, review the “Interviewing Strategies That Work!” Career Workshops. Learn how to prepare for an interview and develop answers to common interview questions to boost your confidence.
Also, check out the SJSU Career Center’s all-inclusive Interviewing Guide for more.
Basic Interview Questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- How has your college experience prepared you for your chosen career?
- What courses did you like best/least? Why?
- Tell me about one of your class projects and what you learned from the experience that relates to this position.
- Tell me about a time you gave a presentation.
Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral or situational questions allow an employer to elicit information about your past performance that they can compare to the specific skills needed to perform the job. Areas that could be covered include decision making, organization, commitment, planning, creativity, communication, assertiveness, teamwork, and leadership, among others.
The phone interview is increasingly being used as an efficient preliminary tool to determine if you will be invited for a face-to-face interview. It is important to be prepared.
This type of interview is typically a basic interview with behavioral questions that lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The interviewer’s objective is to:
When you expand your job search and consider opportunities outside a commutable distance, you may be asked to participate in a video interview. The video interview (which often takes place via online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Skype) offers the convenience of a phone interview plus the bonus of employers being able to see you face-to-face no matter where you’re located. You’ll want to prepare just as you would for an in-person interview, but there are additional important items to consider, such as:
Practice with Big Interview
Practice Interviewing Online
Big Interview is a software program that provides free, online interview practice for SJSU students and registered alumni. With Big Interview you will be able to:
Questions to Ask the Interviewer
One important way to demonstrate your passion and interest for a position is to prepare a few good questions to ask the interviewer. This shows that you’ve done your homework and put some serious thought into what you need to know about the specific position or company. Remember, interviewing is a two-way street. While the interviewer is trying to get to know you, you too can ask questions to determine if the job will be a good fit for you.
Thank You Letter
Don’t end the interview with just a handshake. Following up with a thank you letter is not only common courtesy but a true sign of closing the meeting professionally and courteously. A thank you letter should be a professional hand-written letter or email sent within 24 hours of the interview.
This is more important than you might think — when asked, most employers mention how much they like “thank you’s” and how it helps them remember the candidate.
As part of the job search process, you may be asked to provide a potential employer with a list of references. When this happens, it’s a good indication that the employer is seriously interested in hiring you. It is important to be prepared and have your list of references planned prior to conducting your job search. A good reference can help close the deal on your job offer, just as a bad reference can have a negative impact. So choose your references wisely.
After the Interview
- Be sure to get a business card or at least your interviewer’s name so you can follow-up after the interview.
- Send a thank you note or email within 24 hours after the interview.
- Stay in contact with the organization.
- SJSU Career Center’s all-inclusive Interviewing Guide
- Library and Technology Jobs: Library Interview Questions, Florida State University Library LibGuide
- Interview Articles from The Muse