Interview Skills - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

Interview Skills

An interview is a lot like a first date. Although you want the other person to like you for who you really are, a good first impression is important. So, put on clothes you might not ordinarily wear, practice smiling and shaking hands in front of the mirror, and think a lot about what you're going to say.

Many interviewers ask the same types of questions. Here are some strategies for answering the most common.

Tell me about yourself. Your answer should include four parts:

  1. Career information.
  2. Your strengths, skills and accomplishments.
  3. Education information.
  4. Personal information (not a lot, but show how you're involved in the community).

Strategies:

  • Take no longer than two minutes to answer this question.
  • Finish strongly by saying how your experience ties to the position or why you're interested in the job.

Tell me about the time... The interviewer is seeing how your previous experiences will influence you in this position.

Strategies:

  • Demonstrate future accomplishments the employer can expect from you.
  • Prepare stories and examples to show how you handled a particular situation.
  • Explain the situation, what you did and the results of your actions.

Potential variations:

  • Tell me about a time when you failed. What happened and how did you recover?
  • Tell me about a time you succeeded. Give a specific example.
  • Tell me about a time you were working with someone who wasn't pulling their weight or who had a different value system than you do. How did you deal with this person?

What are your long-term goals? Employers use this question to understand you better.

Strategies:

  • Focus on how your goals fit with the organization's mission.
  • Tell how you think this position will help you reach those goals.

Why do you want to work here? The interviewer has probably guessed you need a job. They're also gauging how much thought you've given to where you want to work.

Strategies:

  • Give two or three reasons why you want to work for this company.
  • Explain why this position is a good fit for you.
  • Demonstrate that you know what you want and that you've researched the organization.

Why should we hire you? This is your chance to convince the interviewer what a great asset you would be for them.

Strategies:

  • Say why you're a perfect fit for the job.
  • Tell about your strengths and skills.

Other common questions:

  • If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What salary are you seeking?
  • What three positive things would your previous boss/your family/your friends say about you?
  • What can you do for us that other candidates can't?
  • When were you most satisfied with your job?
  • What are your goals?
  • What were the responsibilities of your last job?
  • What was the last project you headed up and what was the outcome?
  • Why are you leaving your present job?
  • What would be your ideal working situation?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • What do you know about our company?

 

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