Check out the 5-Minute Career Clips (online workshops) at the bottom of this page for brief step-by-step guides to preparing for, and conducting, a great interview.
How To Prepare
1. Know yourself and what you offer. Identify and be comfortable with your qualifications, strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities.
2. Know your resume. Be very familiar with everything on it and be prepared to talk about any of it.
3. Know the job description and analyze the position. What do you want from the job: personal and intellectual growth, travel, flexibility, financial security, or a particular geographic area?
4. Know the company - research the organization. Learn as much as possible about the size, location, products/services, and benefits by reading everything you can. Become familiar with recent events affecting the industry as a whole.
5. Assess the 'fit'. Reflect on how your experience, education, and interests relate to the position. Your responses will reflect your self confidence, ability to communicate effectively, and interpersonal skills. This process will be helpful when answering questions like "Why are you interested in the organization?", or, "Tell me something about yourself."
6. Practice interviewing. Talk to friends, discuss techniques with professionals in the field, practice in front of a mirror. You can also arrange
a practice interview with a career counselor in our Career Services office (practice by phone or in-person). Contact us to schedule an appointment.
7. Get the details and logistics. Upon receiving the invitation to interview, verify the specifics such as: names and titles of those who will be conducting the interview(s), dates, times, and location.
If long distance travel is required, determine who will bear the costs of transportation, meals, and overnight lodging, if necessary.
8. Telephone Interview. Several additional things to keep in mind:
First, remember that the interviewer cannot see your body language such as posture, eye contact, and facial expressions - all of which make up a large part of communication. Therefore, be sure to convey energy in your voice. Also pay extra attention to your rate of speech and be sensitive to
pauses and breaks in the conversation.
Be aware of the volume of your voice on the phone and ensure that it is not too loud (this also applies to your breathing!). If possible, ask beforehand if you will be on speaker-phone to several people, or if it will be a one one-to-one conversation.
Take advantage of the ability to have notes in front of you to refer to during the interview: your resume, the job description, company information, etc.
Find a quiet place where you will be free of distraction, interruptions or background noises.
Some people find it relaxing to wear comfortable clothes. On the other hand, some people find it puts them in the proper 'professional' mindset to wear interview clothing, even though it obviously does not matter for a phone interview.
If you're using a cell phone, make sure it is charged and has good coverage!
Common Questions You Might Be Asked
You can predict roughly half the questions that you will be asked in any given interview!
This means that you can be prepared for half the interview, and thereby reduce your nervousness
and strengthen your performance. You will likely be asked some of the following questions (or some variation of these):
- Tell me about yourself.
- What interests you about this position?
- Why are you interested in working for XX company?
- Why did you attend Middlebury?
- What qualifications do you have that you feel will lead to success in your career?
- What kind of work interests you the most?
- Are you willing to travel?
- Are you willing to work overtime?
- What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work?
- What kind of books do you read?
- What did you like/dislike most about your last job?
- How long would you stay with the company?
- What are your biggest accomplishments?
- Can you work under pressure?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What can you do for us that someone else can't do?
- Describe a difficult problem you've had to deal with.
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What do you do when you are faced with problems or stress at work?
- Tell me about an important goal you've set in the past and how successful you were in meeting it.
- How do you approach tasks which you dislike or which are uninteresting to you?
- Describe your communication skills.
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your supervisor about an important project or approach?
How did you handle it? What was the result?
- How would your former staff describe your leadership style?
- How do you overcome obstacle on the job?
- What keeps you challenged or motivated?
- What do you expect from a supervisor?
- Describe the most creative work-related project you have completed..
- How do you work under pressure?
- What did you do in your last job to contribute toward a teamwork environment?
- What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
- Tell me how you solved a problem you faced on the job.
- Describe a situation in which you were able to positively influence the actions of others in a desired direction.
- Tell me about a situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or coworker.
- Describe a situation in which others within your organization depended on you.
- Describe your most recent team effort.
- Take me through a time when you took a product or a project from start to launch.
- Describe the way that you work under tight deadlines.
- Describe how you work under tough managers.
- How do you manage stress?
- In a team environment, are you a motivator, a player, a leader, or an enthusiast?
- In the past few years, what part of your professional skill set have you improved the most?
Tip: Ambiguous questions are not an invitation to ramble on without direction. Stay focused.
Before beginning your response, think of two or three key points that support your qualifications for
and/or compatibility with the job and stick to these points. For more practical tips on how to prepare
for, and conduct yourself in, the interview, see '5-Minute Career Clips' Prepare to Ace the Interview; and
Ace the Interview.
Remember: When answering questions, be positive!
Communicate clearly; use concrete examples whenever possible; demonstrate what you have
learned from your experiences. Know your "saleable" assets, and take advantage of questions that
allow you to integrate points that strengthen your candidacy in your response. You can do this best
by preparing for these 'commonly asked' questions in advance of the interview. For more information
on how to prepare for the interview, see '5-Minute Career Clip' Prepare to Ace the Interview.
Handling the Tough Questions: Responding to the 'sticky' questions definitely requires thoughtful preparation in advance. For some excellent examples on how to handle these, check out the '5-minute Career Clip' Handle the Tough Questions
Questions You Can Ask the Interviewer
Five or six well thought out questions will demonstrate your interest in the position. Never ask about salary and benefits during the first interview; this implies that you are only interested in what you get vs what you want to contribute to the company. Also, try to ask questions that indicate your interest, and that demonstrate that you did some research on the company and job (not simply questions you could easily have obtained from the company website). Here are a few sample questions:
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this position?
- Do you have a formal training program?
(If yes) How long is it and could you describe the type of training provided?
- How will my performance be evaluated, and how often?
- What would be a typical career path for an employee like myself entering your organization?
- To whom would I report? Under whose supervision would I be assigned?
- What are the company's plans for expansion in terms of product lines, services, new branches, etc.?
- How would you differentiate your company from your major competitors?
- What do you consider to be the major challenges facing the industry today?
- What do you envision the future of the industry to look like? How will the company be positioned in that future?
- May I talk with present and previous employees about this job and organization?
- What do you like most about working here?
More 'How To' Information
Check out these 5-Minute Career Clips for 'how to' networking tips. Relevant to all career stages, whether you are a new entry to the job market, or a mid-career professional making a job change.