- Goal of the interview
- Setting up the interview
- Preparing for the interview
- Day of the interview
- After the interview
- Resource links
- Interviewers are interested in your qualifications, motivation, and enthusiasm as they relate to the job. The interviewers also want to determine if you have well-developed interpersonal skills and, therefore, could work effectively with their company's supervisors, coworkers, and clients.
- For you as the interviewee, this is a chance to find out if the organization and job fits your demands, goals, and needs.
- The interview is also a forum for you to express why you are uniquely qualified for the position.
Phone/Answering machine etiquetteIn preparing for responses from employers, you should make sure that you:
- Install a working answering machine or voice mail service that has an appropriate and professional greeting. For example, the following would be an inappropriate message: "Hello, I am either not at home or at home and screening my calls. Please leave a message and I might call you back."
- Inform roommates or family members that you are expecting calls from potential employers and have asked them to take complete messages. Put a notepad and pencil by the phone for this purpose.
- Always answer the phone in a professional and polite manner--even, for example, if the caller wakes you up.
Returning callsReturn all UTC Co-op Office and employer calls or correspondence (e-mail or postal) as soon as possible. A good rule is to return a call or message within twenty-four hours. If you fail to return calls in a timely manner, your chances of obtaining a co-op job or internship can be affected. The employer may hire someone else before they hear from you, or they may no longer feel that you are a reliable and mature job candidate.
Visiting the work site prior to an interviewIf you are asked to meet the employer or visit the workplace prior to an interview, show up at least fifteen minutes early and dress and behave professionally. For instance, an employer may ask you to come fill out an application or meet briefly before a formal interview is scheduled. Be on the safe side and dress appropriately. Never show up in jeans, shorts, etc. Remember that the employer will form lasting opinions based upon these first encounters.
Interviewing ethicsDo not apply or interview for a job that you would not consider accepting. You should never interview for a job just to get interviewing experience. You might be taking the spot of someone who is truly interested in the position. Also, employers feel like they are wasting their time with insincere candidates. In addition, a negative experience with an employer now could come back to haunt you later in your career.
DirectionsOnce you have scheduled a day and time for your interview, obtain a set of detailed directions to the interview site.
Know how to get to the interview siteDrive to it prior to the interview day to make sure that you know where it is located.
Be very familiar with your resume and don't forget to take your most updated, best looking resume with you
PracticeWork through a set of practice interview questions so that you can give more thoughtful and complete answers during the actual interview. There are really only a few types of interview questions. What varies is how they are worded or presented. Basically, the interviewer will ask specific or general questions to find out about:
- your skills, qualifications, abilities, and experiences
- your motivation and interest in the job
- your short and long term career goals
- your interests, personality, and interpersonal skills
- your knowledge of the employer
Prepare complete answers that explain why you are the best candidate for the job. Use specific examples to show that you have the skills and/or experiences that make you especially qualified for the position.
See the following links for sample interview questions:
- America's Employers—The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions
- Interview Network -Over 800 practice job interview questions, customize your own practice interviews
- Monster.com—Virtual interview, sample questions
Practice interview resourcesWhenever possible participate in practice interviews to improve your interviewing skills and to ease your interviewing anxieties. Most people underestimate the need for preparing and practicing for interviews. Don't make this mistake. Regardless of your interviewing experiences, always be well prepared. Take advantage of the following resources:
- Your co-op coordinator is available for practice interviewing. Also, the Co-op Office can videotape your practice interview to help you critique your performance.
- You can also have a friend or family member ask questions from the "sample interview questions" links listed above.
Research the organizationAlways research the organization so that you are knowledgeable enough to answer and ask questions during the interview. See the UTC Cooperative Education's Office Web page How to Research Companies for more information. Ask questions or make comments that let the employer know that you were interested and motivated enough to research their company. Be very familiar with the job description and be prepared to relate you, your experiences, interests, goals, etc. to it.
Prepare questions for the interviewerUndoubtedly, the interviewer will at some point (usually at the close of an interview) ask if you have any questions. Always have your own questions to ask the interviewer. Prepare enough questions so that if some are addressed during the early stages of the interview then you still have others left in reserve. Remember that this is your opportunity to find out if this is the right job and organization for you so make sure that your questions focus on issues that are important to your decision making process. Also, this is an excellent time to ask questions that show the interviewer your enthusiasm and preparedness. See the following link for sample questions that you can pose to the interviewer.
Your appearanceYour appearance should be neat and professional. Conservative colors like navy, black, and tan are safe choices for clothing. A suit (matching blazer and skirt or pants) is the traditional interview wardrobe. Not all students will wear a suit but you should never wear shorts, jeans, casual shirts, etc. to a typical interview. Some fields demand more conservative interview dress so talk to your co-op coordinator for further advice. Do not wear an excessive amount of jewelry, perfume, or cologne. It is better to opt for simplicity when planning your interview day outfit. Make sure that your shoes are shined, nails are cleaned and trimmed, clothes are pressed, hair conservatively styled, etc.
Be earlyPlan to arrive 15 minutes early (but no earlier) to the interview.
Call if you are running lateIf for some unforeseen reason (e.g. accident, etc.) you are running late to the interview, call the interviewers to let them know.
What to bring to the interviewTake a professional memo book or attaché case to carry a notepad, notes, pen, updated copies of your resume, reference list, and any other appropriate materials (e.g. your portfolio, copies of writing or art samples).
Waiting for the interview to beginEven though you will probably be nervous, remember to be polite, pleasant, and attentive to any office staff that you may meet before the interview begins. You should consider that your interview actually starts as soon as you walk in the organization's door, because anyone that you meet may be asked later to comment on you.
As you wait for the interviewer to emerge, use this opportunity to relax and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself. You can also observe the office atmosphere to help you determine whether you would be interested in working with this company or organization.
IntroductionsWhen meeting the interviewer be sure to offer a firm handshake (not bone breaking but solid with both male and females), introduce yourself, and make eye contact.
The interviewRemember that the interview is a mutual buying and selling session. You are selling yourself and considering buying what the company interviewer is selling, and vice versa. The person you are talking to may also be only the first interviewer that you are going to have to talk with to get the position. If so, you have got to pass this interview to be invited to the next at the work site or with the immediate supervisor.
Throughout the course of the interview, smile and maintain natural eye contact. Be attentive, listen carefully to and then answer all questions completely and honestly. If you don't know the answer to something, admit that you "don't know" or ask for a clarification of the question. Don't "talk at" an answer. The answer to every question should communicate to the interviewer that you are the right person for this job. There are no rules that say you cannot jot notes to yourself while someone is asking you questions, especially if they are asking you for a detailed answer. In such cases take the time to review your notes, collect your thoughts, and then answer precisely.
Maintain good posture and body language throughout the interview; don't fidget—(nervous habits such as shaking your foot or tapping your fingers on the table, turning the ring on your finger) can be distracting to your interviewer and cost you a co-op/intern position. Also, speak clearly and deliberately (avoid "ums," "like, you know " etc.). Be positive and don't talk negatively about former or current supervisors or professors. Be careful to look interested and appear enthusiastic.
Also, many interviewees make the mistake of being too rigid during an interview. Be sure to smile and show your personality. Often the best words of advice for an overanxious interviewee are to take a deep breath, relax, think, and be yourself. Also, be confident!
Illegal interview questionsThere are some questions regarding your personal life that are illegal for an employer to ask prior to employment. These include questions about marital status, children, religious affiliation, etc. Some interviewers, however, are inexperienced and may not be familiar with these legalities. As a result, this can be a difficult situation to handle.
The Web site Career Builders advises that your options for handling illegal interview questions (i.e. are you married and how many children do you have?) include:
- answering the question honestly (which may be the "wrong" answer in the eyes of the interviewer and, therefore, actually hurt your chances of employment)-i.e. "I am married for the third time and have seven children."
- refusing to answer the question (which might antagonize the interviewer)-i.e. ("I am sorry, but would you please tell me what bearing this has on the position that you are offering me?")
- determine the purpose of the question (i.e. "Can you be married, have children and still do this job?") and answer accordingly - i.e. "I will have no problem working the scheduled hours."
Closing stage of the interviewIf you are interested and enthusiastic about the job, let the interviewers know this during the close of the interview. Also, this is the time to summarize the reasons that you are the best candidate for this position. Thank the interviewers for their time and shake hands before leaving. The interviewers will usually let you know when you will be contacted about the results of the interviewing process. If this does not occur, it is appropriate for you to ask what can be expected after the interview. Also, the interviewers will probably ask if you have any final questions. Use one of your prepared interview questions or a new one that arose during the interview.
Different types of interviewsThe interview itself can take many forms:
- One on one interview- Most traditional interviews occur in person between a single interviewer and the job candidate. You may have one (e.g. co-op or intern supervisor) or multiple, one-on-one interviews (e.g. human resources professional, coworkers, etc.) during a single visit.
- Group interview- Other situations might be a group interview format where the candidate is interviewing with several people (usually representing various areas of the company) at once.
- Phone Interview- Most interviews for local jobs will occur in person, but others, mainly for out of town positions, may initially occur over the phone. Phone interviews have some challenges and advantages. First, you still must be prepared for a phone interview but you can use notes. Also, you must communicate your enthusiasm and personality, and this is harder to do over the phone. Smile, be aware, and speak clearly.
Thank you lettersAfter the interview, write thank you letters (with no mistakes) to every person with whom you interviewed. The thank you letter should be sent within 24 hours of the interview. Simply thank the person for the opportunity to interview and state your interest (if you are interested) in the job. Also, you can briefly reiterate what makes you qualified for the position.
See links for more information and sample thank you letters.Back to top]
If you have questions, please contact your assigned coordinator in the Office of Cooperative Education.
- College Grad Job Hunter
- The Employment Guide's Career Web articles- "How to make your interview successful" & "Preparation is Key"
- Interview Network
- Monster.com: Virtual interview, interview planner, telephone tips, interview questions
- Quintessential Careers: Interviewing Resources: This award wining Web site is a guide for job seekers. Provides information including list of interviewing resources on the Web.
- True Careers