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An Introduction to Interviewing

Interview opportunities often come up suddenly, leaving candidates little time to prepare. Thus, those seeking new opportunities of all sorts should think about the interview process often and routinely practice techniques whether they have an interview scheduled for tomorrow or are unsure of what’s on the horizon.

Although it’s impossible to plan ahead for every aspect of an interview, there are a number of things candidates can do to ready themselves. For instance, be sure that you understand the position for which you are applying. What kinds of responsibilities does it entail and what skills will it require? Also, learn as much as you can about the organization or company. What is its mission? What products and services does it offer? Who are the people who lead it? Next, think about the skills, interests, and values you possess and how these qualities relate to the job you are seeking. Finally, prepare to make a positive first impression complete with appropriate dress and grooming, a firm handshake, and a friendly personality.

During the interview, emphasize how your unique training, experience, and accomplishments will help you perform well in the position. Convince your interviewer that you are the solution to their open position problem by highlighting your communication, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, work ethic, and planning skills. Ask your interviewer a question or two that you could not answer through your research such as, what do you like best about this work or workplace?

After the interview, it’s important to reflect on the experience. What went well? What are areas for improvement? Would this position and organization be a good fit for you? Always follow-up after an interview by sending a traditional thank you note or emailing a thank you message to everyone you encountered during the interview process.

Partly adapted from the University of Richmond Alumni & Career Services' interviewing resources

Helpful Tools:

Common Questions and How to Approach Them

Q: Tell me about yourself.

A Strategy: Provide an overview of your key skills and experiences that are relevant to the position.

Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

A Strategy: Choose a strength that is relevant to the position and an area for further development that you have a plan to address. Provide an example of your strength in action and explain how you are working to improve upon your shortcoming.

Q: Why are you interested in working here?

A Strategy: Show the interviewer that you did your research and are excited about this opportunity. Explain how you represent a good fit for the position and the larger organization.

Q: Tell me about a difficult situation you faced and how you handled it.

A Strategy: Recognize that this is a behavioral interview question. Describe a specific situation, explain the action you took to address it, and discuss the outcome of that action.