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Interview FAQs

Interview FAQs 2017-04-03T15:40:09+00:00

Interview Style

The most common interview style is the use of the Behavioral-Based Interview or Situational Interview (may also be referred to as Competency Based). The premise of this type of interview is that “past actions are the best indicators of future behavior.” To prepare for the interview an employer must gather information concerning the critical aspects of the job. These are analyzed to determine what skill they demonstrate. Specific questions are developed that would find out whether the job applicant has those skills. In this type of interview use the STAR approach when responding to questions.

Situation-background information.
Task – the problem or situation encountered.
Action – action you took. Be specific.
Result – the result of the action – what happened in the end?

The Biggest Interview Mistakes 

How to Ace Your Face-to-Face!

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What are your short term goals? Long term?
  • In what type of position are you most interested?
  • Does your GPA reflect what you are capable of doing?
  • What type of position most interests you?
  • What courses did you like best? The least?
  • If you were starting college all over again, what courses would you take? Why?
  • Were your extracurricular activities worth the time you devoted to them? Why?
  • What jobs have you held? How were they obtained and why did you leave?
  • What qualifications do you have that make you feel that you will be successful in your field?
  • What personal characteristics are necessary for success in your chosen field?
  • What are your salary requirements?
  • How would you define success in your field?
  • How much do you expect to be earning five years from now? Ten years?
  • What do you like about our company?
  • What do you think determines a person’s progress within a company?
  • Do you prefer working with others or by yourself?
  • Are you primarily interested in making money or do you feel that service is your prime concern?
  • How did your most recent employer treat you?
  • What have you learned from some of the jobs you have held?
  • What interests you about our product or service?
  • Did you ever change your major field of interest while you were in college? Why?
  • Which of your college years was the most difficult? Why?
  • Do you like routine work?
  • Do you like regular hours?
  • Explain why you think you are a team player? Why you are not?
  • Do you have an analytical mind?
  • Are you eager to please?
  • What job in our company would you choose if you were entirely free to do so?
  • Do you have plans for graduate work?
  • What jobs have you enjoyed the least? Why?
  • Do you prefer a large or small company? Why?
  • Do you like to travel?
  • Will you work overtime hours?
  • Are you interested in research?
  • Will you need any special accommodations to do this job?
  • What areas of the country would you be willing to relocate?
  • How has your college experience prepared you for a career?
  • What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
  • What criteria do you use to evaluate the company for which you hope to work?
  • What have you learned from your mistakes?
  • Organization Skills
    Ability to plan tasks
    -Tell me about a big project you had to plan for school or work.
    Ability to set priorities
    -Describe a situation when you had several things to do in a limited time, such as study for exams.
    Ability to delegate
    -Tell me about a time when you were in charge of something and had to let others help you.
  • Interpersonal skills
    Client relations
    -Tell me about a time when you’ve had to deal with members of the public.
    Being a team player
    -Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a group problem.
    Ability to deal with people
    -Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with someone in a position above (or below) you.
  • Technical skills
    Problem solving
    -Tell me about the most difficult work or school problem you have ever faced.
    Ability to apply knowledge
    -Tell me about a situation in which you had to apply some acquired knowledge or skill.
    Knowing limitations
    -Tell me about a time when you had to turn to someone else for assistance.
    Taking initiative
    -Tell me about a time when you had to take charge and get a job done or resolve a difficult situation.
    Ability to learn
    -Tell me about a time when you had to learn something new in a short time.
  • Communication skills
    Ability to communicate
    -Tell me about a time when someone misunderstood something you said or wrote.
    Ability to listen
    -Tell me about a time when you misunderstood a teacher or superior.
     Dealing with Conflict
    -Tell me about a time when you have had a conflict with a co-worker or team member.

Interviewers are not allowed to ask about your marital status, whether you have children, disabilities, arrests, etc. Unfortunately some still ask questions they should not. What should you do if you are asked an illegal question?

Often the best way is to politely ask the interviewer why the question is relevant. “How might this information be relevant for this position?”  This shows that you understand your rights and realize the recruiter’s query was inappropriate.

The questions, “Will you need any special accommodations to do this job? or “Is there anything that would prevent you from being able to do this job?” are legal.  If an accommodation is needed you are not required to discuss this until after the job offer has been extended.

You may try to answer the difficult question by focusing on what you think the issue is that the interviewer is trying to address. For example, if the recruiter asks if you have any children, the question he or she may be asking is whether you will be able to perform your job or will you be needing time off to take care of other family matters. Assure her/him that you have been able to manage family concerns in the past and do not anticipate any problems in the future.

Even an inappropriate question can be used to help sell yourself.

Job interviews allow both the employer and the candidate to evaluate each other and to raise questions so that each may make a better employment decision. When you are asked if you have any questions, never say “no.” Questions demonstrate your interest in the company. They also help you decide if you will fit into the company. Ask questions that are not answered in your company research. Avoid asking about compensation and benefits until an offer has been extended.

  • What kinds of assignments might I expect the first six months on the job?
  • What do you (the interviewer) like best about your job/company?
  • Can you describe a typical day in this role?
  • Can you tell me about the experience of the last person who entered this role?
  • Can you describe the team/project work?
  • Can you explain the training program?
  • What characteristics do the achievers in this company seem to share?
  • What is the largest challenge facing your staff/department right now?
  • What qualities would your ideal candidate possess?

Always end by asking:  What is the next step in the process?

Traveling to the Interview

For Air Reservations:

In most cases, the company will make air travel arrangements.  Be prepared to charge your ticket (using a credit card) if the company doesn’t pre-pay for it.

Airline Travel:

Check in at the airline counter 90 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. Your baggage will be checked through to your final destination. If you have a close connection to make, consider carrying your baggage with you (if this is not possible, make sure that you have any information necessary for your interview). Dress appropriately for interviewing when traveling (you may not have time to change clothes or freshen up upon arrival). Contact an airline representative immediately if your baggage is delayed. Lock and plainly mark your baggage with your address, inside and out.

Many of your trips will be during the winter or early spring when travel is affected by weather. If your flight is detained or if you have missed connections for a flight, you should contact a ticket agent for assistance. Be sure to call the employer to inform him or her of your delay and your expected time of arrival.

When formulating travel plans for the interview trip, be certain to obtain the following information:

  • Will someone meet you at the airport, or should you go directly to the hotel or the company office?
  • What is the best mode of transportation (limousine, taxi, bus, train) for you to use?
  • Has a hotel/motel reservation been made for you?
  • Is the reservation in your name?
  • What is the name and address of the hotel?

Typically, the employer expects to pay for all legitimate expenses incurred by you in connection with a site visit. “Legitimate expenses” are defined as those which are necessary to get you there and back, covering the basic items of transportation, food and lodging. If you are uncertain as to who is expected to pay for interviewing expenses, do not hesitate to ask the employer.

1. Seek reimbursement only for the actual expenses of your trip. Do not include entertainment or personal expenditures. Should you visit other firms on the same trip you should prorate your expenses among them. Reimbursement policies vary. Some employers return an applicant’s funds the same day, while others take several weeks to mail a check. Each candidate should have funds on hand for recruiting expenses.

2. Get receipts for hotel and travel costs. They are normally required before reimbursement can be made.

3. With the employer’s authorization, select the most convenient means of transportation. If you drive a car, show your complete route and round trip mileage. Include airport limousine service, buses, trains and taxis.

4. Be conservative about meal expenditures. How you spend an employer’s funds on an interview trip is a good indication of how you might spend those funds as an employee. Costs should cover meals with tax, and should be listed on a daily basis. Some employers set no limits but rely on your good judgment. Although geographic location will cause figures to vary, these maximum expenditures should serve as a general guideline:

Breakfast $ 8.00

Lunch $12.00

Dinner $20.00

5. The following items are NOT considered normal business expenses:

  • Personal entertainment and tours, cigarettes, magazines, etc.
  • Tips may or may not be reimbursable
  • Valet expenses
  • Expenses for persons other than the individual invited, except where the company authorizes expenses for the applicant’s spouse
  • Hotels at points other than the city being visited, except as may be required by the transportation schedule
  • Charges for transportation reservations that were not cancelled
  • Travel insurance

FOLLOW UP: An offer of employment is rarely given at the time of the second interview. Each person you interviewed with should receive a thank you e-mail within twenty-four hours of your visit. Be specific, but brief in expressing your thanks and continued interest in the organization. Before you leave the office, find out what the next step is and their timetable for making a decision. When it is necessary for you to miss classes because of interview trips, be sure to notify your instructors prior to leaving.

Additional Tips

The second interview generally consumes a whole day–sometimes more. It may include pre-employment testing, such as paper and pencil tests or on-the-job situation scenarios in order to assess your decision-making abilities. The various interviews during the day are a test of your knowledge, poise, stamina and enthusiasm! Typically, you will be interviewed by various supervisors, managers and officials with a break for lunch and perhaps a tour. Try to obtain a schedule which states who will be interviewing you and when each interview is to take place.

There are two important factors that the company will use in evaluating you: your ability to fit in with the company’s culture, and the quality and depth of the questions you ask. Just as the prospective employer wants to learn a great deal about you during the interview trip, you should also gain as much information as possible during this short time period. Try to develop the right level of questions for each specific person you interview with that day (HR, top management, etc.) It’s a good idea to always have some questions prepared while remaining open to questions that come up spontaneously during your interviews.

  • What markets does the company anticipate developing?
  • What new product/service/client is the company actively pursuing?
  • How do market trends affect company growth and progress?

Many questions arise when it comes to the subject of a meal which is scheduled into the interview. The main point to remember is that employers mostly want to see how you handle yourself in public.  So, with this in mind, here are a few pointers:

  • Order an alcoholic drink only if you are of age and all others have done so.  Ordering more than one drink is ill advised.  This is not the time to find out that nerves and drinks do not mix. You cannot afford to “blow it” by slipping up on those items you kept under control prior to the meal.
  • Do not order as if this were the first time you had eaten in the past week. If you are too nervous to eat, order something light.
  • Be careful about expense. Do not order the most expensive item on the menu. Keep it on the conservative side. Choose something in the mid range of the menu.  A hamburger is not appropriate if the others in your party are ordering steak
  • Avoid foods that may cause unpleasant breath.
  • Do not order “hard to handle” foods. Those that fall into this category, and often times in your lap, are crab legs, spaghetti, lasagna (or other entrees with tomato sauce as it splatters easily), and peas.
  • As for conversation, take cues from the interviewer(s). Discuss neutral topics such as sports, TV, hobbies, and food. Steer clear from topics such as politics, religion and moral issues.
  • Use this time to find out about the community, climate, and cultural and leisure aspects. Also, if some recent graduates have joined you for the meal, ask them about their jobs.