Interview Dos and Don'ts
This page gives advice on how to interview effectively and includes tips from real employers. If you're looking for our on-campus interview schedule, it can be found here.
- Know Thyself - Know what you are selling and to whom you're selling it. Determine
your most marketable skills including technical, non-technical, and key character
- Research Prospective Employers - Learn as much as you can about the company
before you go to the interview. Visit the company web site, read company literature
including their annual report, check with your networking contacts to see what they
know about the employer.
- Review Your Resume - Take good clean copies with you and know what is contained
in the document.
- Review Potential Interview Questions - While you may not be sure what questions
will be asked of you, there are questions that are likely to arise. Become familiar
with Behavior Based Interview Questions and participate in a mock interview with
the Career Center.
- Prepare a List of Questions for the Employer - Remember that you are interviewing
the employer to see if they fit your expectations. A short list of questions based
on your research is a good thing to take along. View sample questions for the employer.
- Make a Good First Impression - First impressions count, and you won't have
a second chance - so give yourself the "once over" before you arrive at the interview.
Maintain good eye contact and keep the conversation flowing.
- Determine the Next Step - Make sure you know the timeline of the employer
for making decisions and the next step in the process for you. If you feel you would
be a perfect fit for the job, say so before you leave the interview.
- Analyze the Interview - When it's all over, breathe a sigh of relief and
analyze your performance. What is your gut feeling? Were your questions answered?
How did they respond to you?
- Follow Up - Write a brief thank-you note and mail it immediately after the
interview. E-mail will work as well, but a well written thank-you note will get
noticed. When you mail this note, you send the message that you're enthusiastic
about the opportunity and that you genuinely want to work for them.
- If You Don't Get the Job - Focus on the interviews in your future!
Questions to Ask During an Interview
- Would you please describe an average day on this job?
- What is the history of this position?
- What are your top priorities for this position?
- What are the key challenges or problems of this position?
- How would you describe the ideal candidate?
- What are the company's short- and long-range objectives?
- Where does the company excel? What are its limitations?
- With whom would I be working? Who would be my supervisor? Whom would I supervise?
- What do you like most about working here?
- What is the department's environment like?
- When and how will I be evaluated? What are the performance standards?
- What aspects of this job would you like to see performed better?
Interviewing With Third-Party Recruiters
Third-party recruiters, those who interview and hire for other organizations, can
present job seekers with a special set of circumstances in the interview. The NACE
Student's Guide to Interviewing with Third-Party Recruiters provides advice on how
to approach these interviews.
These interviews are based on the premise that your recent, relevant past performance
is the best predictor of future performance in similar circumstances.
Interviewers seek specific examples to get as detailed an understanding as they
can about the way candidates have responded in similar situations and challenges.
They are looking for proof that you can demonstrate the desired capabilities in
the real world.
There is a three-step process to answering these questions:
- Situation: Describe a challenge you faced similar to the example posed by
- Action: Explain the actions that you took to resolve the situation.
- Results/Outcome: Detail the beneficial and positive outcomes that came from
Below are some questions commonly asked in the behavior-based interview:
- Tell me about a time when you changed your approach to a project after starting
it. Why did you feel it was necessary to make the change? What was the result?
- Give me specific examples of several projects you were working on at the same time.
How did you keep track of their progress? How did they turn out?
- Describe a time when a team member openly criticized you for something. Why were
you criticized? How did you respond? What could you have done differently?
- Give me a specific example of a time when you had to meet a deadline, but your professor
wasn't available to answer a question and you were unsure how to proceed. What did
you do? What was the outcome?
- Describe a creative/innovative idea that you produced which led to a significant
contribution to the success of an activity or project.
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Interview Dos and Don'ts
Seattle/Denver Entry Level Recruiting Lead
Dos: Tips from Accenture
- Take time to research the company and the position that you are interviewing for.
Understand why you would be a good fit and be able to articulate that to the interviewer.
- When an interview is deemed "business casual", err on the side of more formal than
less formal. This is your opportunity to leave a lasting impression, and you want
it to be the right one. :)
- Bring questions for the employer! If this is truly a potential career opportunity
for you, you should have PLENTY of questions you want answered, and typically all
interviewers will ask if you have any topics you want to cover. This is your chance
to learn more about the company, what it can offer you, AND impress your interviewer
with all the research you have done!
Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition
Dos: Charles Schwab and "A Sense of Fit"
"I find that students are most successful in an interview when they have a good
sense of the company and how they may fit with the company's culture and position
requirements, and then they work to "sell" that during the interview."
Therefore, students should prepare for an interview by:
- Reading the company's website and other online sources
- Speaking to CSU alumni who work at that company
- Speaking to career counselors who may be familiar with the company
- Reviewing notes you may have taken from meeting with company reps at career fairs,
info sessions, and other events on-campus.
Dont's: Thoughts from Agilent Technologies
- Several of us are really annoyed when a student is late for an interview. If you
are late, acknowledge the fact and apologize.
- My pet peeve is resumes that do not show the GPA. Like most employers, we have guidelines
as to minimum GPA, so we need this information.
- Another resume related issue that I have is resumes that have no objective or summary
statement. I can't place you (and may not interview you) if I don't know what you
want to do or what you enjoy doing.
Grand Hyatt Denver
Don'ts: The Grand Hyatt Denver's Top 10 Pet Peeves of On-Campus Interviews
- Use of unprofessional language or slang (awesome, like, ridiculous, sweet, etc)
- Unprofessional dress
- Chewing gum
- Interrupting interviewer
- Speaking negatively about previous employer
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Little or no eye contact
- Poor handshake
- When asked why candidate is interested in position, he/she answers with "I just
need a job." (Or any variation of this)
- Insincerity, lack of confidence, or overconfidence
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1. Determine When to Negotiate
It is only appropriate to begin negotiation once you have a formal written job offer. Once you have received the formal offer, you should take the time to review it in depth and understand all aspects of the complete offer. This includes not only the monetary aspects of the offer, but also the start date, benefits (insurance, 401K, stock, etc), vacation/holidays, relocation package (if provided), training, and any other details.
2. Do Your Research
Before you begin a negotiation it is important for you to do your research. It is important for you to know your market value and benchmark that data. How much salary should someone in a similar position with similar experience expect to receive based on job title and location?
In addition to your market value, determine a list of your needs beyond salary. What are some needs you may have? For example, is it important for you to have: vacation, reimbursement for relocation, professional development, flex time, or to negotiate a start date? Determine which needs are important to you and don't feel limited by this list.
3. Prepare for the Negotiation Conversation
Do you need to negotiate? Does their offer match your "Best Case Scenario"? After receiving a job offer, it is now up to you to decide if you need to negotiate. Remember, you may choose not to negotiate if you feel your needs are being met.
Consider negotiation as a way for both parties to express their value to one another and a way for both parties to get what they want. Determine what value you bring to the organization and how that value may be increased by having some of your additional needs met. By expressing what value you would bring to the organization, both parties will be able to gain something through your negotiation. It would therefore be a win-win situation for you and the organization.
Remember there is nothing personal about negotiation. The person whom you'll speak with during a negotiation is only a representative of the organization and may be limited by the organizations finances and policies.
4. Contact the Employer
If you decided you want to negotiate, contact the employer and determine if there is a time when you may speak about your job offer. The hiring manager is the person you are most likely to negotiate with; as in most cases they possess the authority to alter the offer.
The recruiter can be an advocate and a resource to you in this process. They can provide you with an understanding of corporate process and policy as well as insight into the hiring manager's negotiating style.
The meeting should be done over the phone or face-to-face and never via email. You want the opportunity to talk with the employer to convey your position, perspective, and value as well as hear and understand their position. This is a dynamic conversation and not one that can affectively take place through email.
During your conversation, let the employer know how much you are interested in their job offer. Express your desires by letting the employer know what value would be added to their organization by meeting your needs. Utilize the data you gathered about your market value.
Know that the most commonly negotiated aspects of the offer are the salary, sign-on bonus, relocation benefits, vacation, stock incentives, and the start date.
If the employer is unable to negotiate, you must then determine if you are still willing to accept their offer. You may need to ask for time to continue to make your decision. Are enough of your needs being met?
5. What Do You Do After the Negotiation?
Accepting the Offer: If you have been able to successfully negotiate to have your additional needs met, review them with the employer to make sure both parties understand the verbal commitment. Ask for the agreement to be put into writing.
An Offer in Which Your Needs are Not Met: If you feel that after your negotiation, the employer was unable to meet your needs, you may need to ask for time in order to reconsider their original offer.
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