How to be a star at your interviews
We like to think of job interviews as an audition for an acting role. Why? Because you need to look the part, prepare for your future role, and know your lines so that you can ultimately be a star and land your dream job. Stop by our office anytime for advice or sign up for a practice interview.
Look the part
In most cases, Rose-Hulman students will be interviewing for jobs that require traditional business attire. If you're male, this means a conservative suit (not a sports jacket), white dress shirt, traditional tie, dark socks and polished shoes. Females should wear a fashionable suit or conservative dress, neutral stockings, minimal jewelry and makeup, and dark shoes. Everyone should go easy on the perfume or cologne and make sure your hair is neatly combed and in place. Remember, you get just one chance to make a good first impression. Even though many of today's businesses have casual dress, you will still be expected to look conservative and professional at the interview. If a company is casual, you'll find that out after you've accepted an offer.
Prepare for the role
Your interviewer will already know something about you from your cover letter and resume. Likewise, you should know something about the company with whom you're interviewing. Know the title and some of the duties associated with the position you're seeking and be ready to tell them how you're well qualified for it. Here are some ways you can learn about your prospective employer:
- The Career Services Center library has employer directories, videos, database and company files on many potential employers.
- The Logan Library also has reference materials on many companies.
- Some companies will provide you with an annual report upon request.
- You may search the Internet for the company's website as well as for stock information.
Know your lines
The purpose of the interview is for you and the employer to get to know each other. The employer can learn about your skills and qualifications and determine if you'd be a good fit as an employee. At the same time, you will obtain information about the company and the specific job. In addition to learning about your knowledge and skills, the interviewer will be assessing your interpersonal skills such as communication abilities, listening skills, organization, initiative, leadership potential, teamwork, willingness to learn and flexibility. You should be prepared to proactively address these types of attributes in your answers to their questions. Think about why you chose your field of study and why you're interested in the type of work they do. Weave in what academic courses you liked best and why. Tell them how your work experiences prepared you for the job. Tell about particular instances where you demonstrated leadership or helped to solve a problem by working with a multidisciplinary team of students. Also be sure to tell them what accomplishments have brought you the most satisfaction and how that could benefit the company.
The interviewer likely will turn the tables and give you time to ask questions of your own. Never say "no," because the interviewer could take that to mean you aren't truly interested in the position. Instead, have a list of questions and ask any that haven't already been covered during the interview. This is not the time to ask about salary, benefits, time off or other questions that pertain to what you get out of the position. The time for that is when an offer is made. Click here for suggested questions and answers for your interviews.
Be a S.T.A.R.!
To stand out and be a star - the one they just have to hire - you need to be prepared. Think of some particular instances in your classroom work, internships or previous jobs that effectively demonstrate your strong personal skills and characteristics. Be prepared to tell your story in three parts: Situation/Task, Action and Result (S.T.A.R.) so that you have a concise, impressive response rather than a rambling answer without true relevance to the position. See the example below:
- Situation/Task - "I entered my sophomore year with a low GPA. I had always done well in high school, but I didn't handle the transition to college well. I knew that if I wanted to succeed, I had to develop better study habits and manage my time better."
- Action - "I created a calendar and marked the due dates for all of my assignments and tests. Then I set aside certain hours each day for studying, allowing more for peak times like midterms and finals. I made up my mind not to change the plan until after the first quarter grades so I could give it a chance to work."
- Result - "My grades improved immediately. I used this system for the whole year and earned a 3.1 while still having time for other activities. My GPA has been strong ever since."