An interview provides an opportunity for you and the interviewer to determine how well you and the organization fit together. It is an important step in the job search process. An interview can also play a key role in securing an internship or applying to graduate school.
The Luther College Career Center plays a key role in helping students with interview preparation. Remember, an interview is a two-way conversation. Your role in the conversation is to:
- Provide information that will assist the employer in evaluating your skills and experiences.
- Get information that will help you determine whether this position and organization interest you.
The key to a successful interview is to communicate, be yourself, and do the best you can.
Prepare for the Interview
It is likely that an employer will expect you to know the basics about their company or organization before the interview. Conducting this research will increase your knowledge of the organization and give you more confidence, assist you in asking intelligent questions, and help convince the employer that you are seriously interested in the organization.
At the minimum, you should know:
- What the organization produces or the services it offers
- Where the organization and its branches are located
In addition to researching the organization, it is important to research the position or type of position for which you are applying.
The individuals who are most successful in this process are those who have taken the time to identify their career goals, the skills they would bring to an organization or program, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how their education in and out of the classroom has helped prepare them for this experience. Consider what you can do for the organization based on your interests and skills. Again, give some thought to the kind of position you want, why you want it, and how you qualify for it.
The CliftonStrengths program at Luther is a great resource to help you through this process.
During your interview, there will be little time for you to hesitate and search for words or plan your answers to the questions you are asked. Even if you are a quick thinker, it is a very good idea to PRACTICE your responses to potential interview questions. Do not memorize your responses word for word but have a good idea of the points you want to cover in your interview. You may want to schedule a practice interview with the Career Center. Are your responses to questions clear and do you appear confident?
Consider your responses to some of these common interviewing questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What skills will you bring to our school/organization/field?
- Tell me about a situation when you became frustrated or impatient when dealing with a peer/team member or professor. What did you do?
- Have you ever trained/tutored anyone? How did you go about it? What were the results?
- Tell me about a time when you had to get someone to adopt your idea at work/school. What did you do? Why?
- How have you demonstrated leadership in a classroom, internship, job, or other setting? Give examples.
- Tell me about a time when you found errors in your work. What caused those errors? How did you handle the situation?
- Describe the biggest work or project-related challenge you have faced. How did you handle this?
- Tell me about a time when you were faced with conflicting priorities. How did you organize your schedule?
- Can you describe some circumstances where you wished you would have acted differently with someone at work/school?
- Which college courses did you like most/the least?
- What would you like to know about us?
During the interview, it is highly likely that you will have an opportunity to ask questions of the person or persons interviewing you. It is important that your questions show a sincere interest in the particular employer and their needs. Listed as follows are some sample questions:
- How much exposure to and contact with management (or supervision) is there?
- Why is this position open?
- How would you describe the community in which your organization/university/program is located?
- What are the day-to-day duties involved in this job?
- In your organization, is this position more analytical or people-oriented?
- What is the nature of the training program and level of supervision given in the early stages of employment?
- How are performance reviews or evaluations given?
- Can you describe the clients/students/customers/associates you work with?
- What skills are you seeking in the individual selected for this position or program?
- What are the opportunities for professional development and advancement?
- What is the future vision for this organization?
Luther’s Career Center provides you with an opportunity to schedule practice interviews. This process builds confidence, gives you a better idea of what you may expect, and helps you to stand out so you may land your dream job.
BigInterview is an online interview preparation tool that helps walk you through the process of preparing and practicing for your upcoming interviews. It includes vital interview tips, industry/role specific interview questions, and more!
Leverage your CliftonStrengths ‘Action Items’ if you are struggling to recall your stories and experiences and your ‘Reports’ if need help describing your unique talents. Sharing your CliftonStrength descriptions with your references can help them with writing your recommendation letters.
Peer Interview Support
Practice interviewing with one of your trained classmates. You will be asked questions and receive immediate feedback. It is a great way to brush up on your skills, (even if you’ve interviewed before), and it will help you feel more prepared for the “real” interview.
- Bring along extra copies of your resume and samples of your work if appropriate.
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
- Bring the interviewer’s telephone number in the event you get lost.
- Dress intentionally for the position you are seeking.
- Be attentive to the length of your responses.
- Listen to the questions and take time to think before answering. It’s okay to bring a notebook and pen.
- If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification.
- Prepare your questions ahead of time and have them crafted to provide information that is important to you.