Keys for a Successful Interview

Flickr CCAs springtime approaches, so do interviews for internships, jobs, and graduate schools.  Like other elements of job-searching such as resumes, cover letters, and applications there are fundamental techniques and components to a successful interview.  No matter how good you appear on paper, a successful interview is the last key to landing the position you desire and can make or break an employer’s decision to hire you.  So, what can you do to ace an interview? Here are some simple steps to make your interview a success.

 

  1. Research
  • Research the employer or organization.  Know about the products, services, or culture of the organization.  This will provide background knowledge that can be used to show your understanding and display how you would fit into their work environment.
  • Research the position including qualifications and expectations. This will allow you to tailor your responses to showcase skills or experiences that make you a suitable candidate.
  • Research the type of interview. Knowing whether you are interviewing in a group, on the phone, or in a one-on-one setting can allow you to analyze how to communicate effectively in each setting.
  1. Preparation
  • The more prepared you are for an interview, the more confidently and clearly you can market yourself.  One simple way to begin the preparation process is to list out all the skills and qualifications that the employer is looking for.
  • Next, list out your experiences, activities, and skills that correlate to each of the qualifications the employer is looking for.
  • Begin to develop a list of commonly asked interview questions and other questions oriented toward the specific employer.  Develop a narrative or story for each question highlighting key points you want to address.
  • Make an appointment at the UConn Center for Career Development for a mock interview or practice a mock interview with a friend or family member.  Mock interviews are a great resource to practice a formal interview.  The Center for Career Development will even record your interview and provide personalized feedback.
  • Additionally, be sure to prepare a handful of questions for when your interview is over.

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  1. At the Interview
  • Dress for interview success.  Pick an outfit that matches the makes you look professional and matches the work environment of the company.  Generally for formal interviews, men wear a suit and tie and women wear a suit or blouse with pants or a skirt.  Avoid wearing strong smelling perfumes or chewing gum.
  • Arrive early to collect yourself.  If you are feeling jittery or nervous, plant your feet on the floor and practice some deep breathing to slow your heart rate and relax.
  • When the interview begins, make eye contact and shake the hand of your interviewer, offering a smile and greeting.  Remember to speak confidently and slowly to articulate all your points clearly.
  • Avoid poor body language like swiveling in your chair or tapping your foot.  It is often best to lock your hands in your lap if this is issue.
  • Market your skills and be sure to show your preparation and confidence. Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding the position of the priorities of the interviewer.  These can help you discuss any points you forgot to make in the interview or clear up any questions you have about the position or the next steps in the hiring process.
  1. Post Interview
  • Send a thank you.  A thank you note is the important last step in the interview process which shows your commitment to the position.  This should highlight ad reiterate some of the key points you made in your interview and might include some details about the position that intrigued you.

 

Interviewing can be nerve wracking for many, but with the correct research and preparation, a successful interview can land you the position you want. I have utilized these skills and techniques and they have boosted my confidence interviewing as well as helping me while conversing with peers and other professionals.  You will not become an interviewing master overnight, however the best way to improve is to practice. The University of Connecticut Center for Career Development has a range of extremely useful interviewing tools such as mock interviews, interview labs, and online resources. For more information visit the Center for Career Development website.