Unit 2: During the Interview
This unit offers resources to help you optimize the time you spend with interviewers to learn more about their expectations and convince them that you are the best person to fill a job opening. Remember not to focus exclusively on how to impress a potential employer. Think about what you want. An interview is an opportunity to meet your potential employer to decide whether you want to work for them and if the position they are offering will help you achieve your career goals.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 1 hour.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- list various types of job interviews;
- define behavioral and situational interview questions;
- describe the STAR technique for responding to behavioral interview questions;
- list examples of standard interview questions;
- describe what you should mention during the closing of the interview;
- describe some interview questions that are legal and illegal in the United States;
- describe effective techniques for conducting an interview that uses technology; and
- describe effective follow-up activities to encourage a second interview or job offer.
2.1: Interviewing Methods
You want to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job during the brief time you have with your interviewer. How well you demonstrate your preparation, qualifications, and fit with the organization may depend on the type of interview you have. This section will give some advice on how to prepare for several types of interviews.
Read this article to learn about various types of interviews. The article explains what the interviewer may be looking for in each case and gives examples of some questions that you might be asked.
Read this article to learn how to prepare for various types of technology-based interviews. Remember, the interviewer is looking for the same information during the interview no matter what the format of the interview is – using technology or face-to-face. You always have to pay attention to your posture and body language.
Many employers use video calls to conduct interviews. Watch this video for tips on how to make a great first impression from miles away. A few of the most important suggestions are to meet from a quiet, undisturbed location, and to take notes throughout the interview.
Read this article for advice on having a successful phone interview. Many employers conduct phone interviews after they have reviewed your resume and believe you are reasonably qualified for the job. A phone interview is your opportunity to make the interviewer interested enough in you to invite you to a face-to-face interview.
2.2: Behavioral and Situational Interview Questions
Employers generally ask two primary types of interview questions: behavioral and situational.
Behavioral interview questions are based on the belief that job candidates will behave in ways that are similar to how they have behaved in the past and that your past work behavior will predict how you will work in the future. Behavioral questions ask about your work experiences.
Situational interview questions ask job candidates to imagine a plausible set of work-related circumstances. They put you in a situation you may confront if you are hired. For example, how would you deal with an angry customer, respond if you discover you have made a mistake, or react if you overhear a colleague make an inappropriate remark to another employee or client?
This video discusses behavioral questions that ask you to describe situations that involve teamwork, leadership, conflict resolution, and your reaction to past failures.
The moderator recommends using the STAR technique to remember how to describe your response to a workplace challenge.
- Tell a story about a situation you encountered, such as a problem or challenge the company faced;
- Describe the task, or what you needed to do;
- Describe your action, or how you responded; and
- Describe the results, such as how your action helped the company, led to increased sales, or put the organization in a better place. You should also describe the lessons you learned.
This resource lists some common open-ended interview questions. For these kinds of questions, the interviewer expects you to expand on your answer rather than respond in one or two words. Try answering some of these questions! The more you practice, the more comfortable you will get with your interview skills.
Watch this video. The speakers recommend providing three good reasons why the company should hire you. What sets you apart and why are you a good fit?
Watch this video. During the closing you should summarize your main points, express your enthusiasm for the position, and ask about the next steps in the process. For example, "when should I expect to hear from you and when would be an appropriate time to follow up?" Be sure to ask your interviewer for a business card so you can follow up.
This resource lists some questions a potential employer can and cannot ask you for legal reasons in the United States.
2.3: Following Up After an Interview
Once the interview is over, you still have some work to do. First, you should ask yourself how well you performed and what you should do differently next time to improve your chances of success. Then, you need to let the employer know you appreciate the opportunity to meet with them and reiterate your interest in the job.
Read this article to learn about some possible follow-up activities. Revisit the article in section 1.3 on what to do before, during, and after an interview to review your options for a follow-up strategy.