Interviews are an opportunity for students to impress potential employers and speak directly to why they would be a suitable employee for their organization. Some companies may conduct one or two interviews to make sure they find the best fit for their organization. Below are some links on how to prepare for an interview.
How to prepare for an interview
Proper preparation for an interview will eliminate nervousness, uncertainty and help you provide the best answers to your interview questions. Most of all, preparation increases your confidence, which will show through to the employer by influencing your demeanor.
Much of the preparation for the interview may have already been done when creating your cover letter, but it’s important to have the company’s nature, products and goals, skills they are looking for and the job posting information fresh in your mind.
- Research the company to be up to date
- Consider how your skills fit with the employer’s needs
- Be familiar with and practice a variety of potential questions (see below for more information on interview questions).
- Prepare a variety of example stories. Choose stories that can be adapted to a variety of questions, using recent experiences from work, school, volunteer positions, hobbies or any other real life experience. Consider using stories that were negative experiences but had positive outcomes, and think about how you contributed to that using your knowledge and skills
- Gather any documents you might want to take to the interview, such as your résumé, cover letter and reference letters
- Relax before the interview to maintain confidence and better be able to listen and respond to questions
Remember — enthusiasm, confidence and energy are contributing factors in who is hired.
Employers may use a variety of components in their interview process. This may include:
- Pre-screening (phone or short interview)
- Skills test
- Panel interview
- Group interview
- Second and third interviews
Types of interview questions
Generally, these questions are open-ended questions with a preference that you respond with work related answers.
These questions typically involve a case scenario where they are looking for a response describing your thought process and how you would solve a scenario.
These questions often start with the phrase: “tell me about a time when you…”. These types of questions are based on the assumption that past behaviour is often the best predictor of future behaviour. Employers use this style of interview questions to assess a candidate’s experiences and behaviours in order to determine if you have the right characteristics to succeed in their company.
Sample behavioural questions
- Describe a time when you demonstrated initiative
- Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work
- Describe a past example that demonstrates great team work
- Give me an example of a time when you had a conflict with someone at work or in school
Answering questions in an interview
The goal is to provide the best answer possible during an interview. To help focus, listen to what is being asked and respond with a clearly thought-out and articulate response, review the tips below:
- Listen to what is being asked
- Think about the question before answering
- Ask for clarification of the question if it’s not entirely clear. If you’re still not sure, ask, “Did I answer your question?”
- Nervous? Say so – it might help break the tension
- Body language can indicate your interest. Remember to sit up straight, maintain eye contact and limit fidgeting
- Smile, be enthusiastic and stay positive
Ending the interview
Interviewers will often ask if you have any questions for them. This is a good time to ask any questions you may already have in mind, but asking even one or two questions is a great way to show further interest in the position. Some questions you might ask are:
- What skills and abilities does your ideal candidate have?
- What is the key objective you have for this position?
- What can a new employee do to make a positive first impression?
- What is the process from here?
- When do you expect to be making your decision?
- May I contact you in a week if I have not heard from you?
Remember to say thank you at the end of the interview and extend a strong handshake to reaffirm your professionalism.