Do Your Homework
If there is one aspect of job interviewing over which you have complete control, it is preparation -- doing your homework before the interview. It is also the key to successful interviewing. Here's your homework: research the organization and the position, learning all you can; match your credentials with the position, identifying strengths to point out and weaknesses to address in the interview; and learn about the interview process in general so you have some idea about what to expect and what is expected of you on the "big day".
Research. There are many ways to research an organization. Your best bet initially is to gather information from the organization itself: promotional/recruiting literature, company newsletters, annual reports, 10K's and the like. If you do not already have one, you may request a position description as well. Other research sources include the college library and the Career Services office, where you may find company folders, trade journals, and other information. Current or past employees of the organization can be an excellent source of information, too -- they can tell you what it is like to work there on a daily basis, and can provide information not found in promotional literature.
Is There a Match?
One way to determine this is to list the position requirements and your qualifications side by side. The results of this analysis will help you to promote yourself more effectively in the actual interview. For example, a job posting states that "A successful candidate will have 2 years of industry experience and 1 yr professional experience." You are a match for this because you have had a summer internship in the industry and relevant course work in your major. A job posting states that you "Must possess strong technical communication skills." You are a match for this because for two years you were an Editor of the College Newspaper. When a posting asks for leadership skills you refer to your position in student government and/or your volunteer experience in the community. (The Office of Career Services can help you find these opportunities to expand your experience and your resume.)
Remember to demonstrate how well you match the requirements. Don't leave it up to the employer!
Prepare Your Answers
Many books and manuals have been written about the interviewing process, some of which are on file in the Oregon Tech Career Services Office and in the Oregon Tech Learning Resource Center. We also offer workshops on this topic on a regular basis. You should become familiar with the types of interviews and interviewers you may encounter, typical questions asked of you, and your legal rights, among other things.
Here is a list of typical interview questions to help you prepare:
- Tell me about yourself.
- How did you become interested in your field of study?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How do you deal with stress in the workplace?
- Tell me about your favorite supervisor. Your least favorite.
- Tell me about the most difficult experience you've faced and how you handled it.
- What has been your favorite professional experience and why?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- What specialty areas are you interested in and why?
- Do you have any questions?
It's important to not only answer the questions, but relate them to the job you're being interviewed for. This shows you've done some research and know what you're getting into!