The job search process and preparing for interviews, it is critical that you are marketing yourself in a positive way. If your interview is already scheduled, there is a good chance that you have been doing this; if not, this is a great place for you to start. First, begin with your resume. This is extremely important in the job search process because your resume is often the first impression an employer gets of you as a candidate. You want to make sure that it is error free and that it highlights your experiences related to the position you are applying for. Career Services is happy to review your resume and provide you with feedback.
If you choose to use LinkedIn, you should also ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date as well. LinkedIn is a great way for employers to learn more about your experience, and it’s a good resource for you to explore different organizations and to build your network. Much like your resume, you want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is updated and professional. After you re satisfied with your personal branding, the second thing you want to do in your preparation for your interview is know yourself.
You want to be able to speak about your skills, work values, interests, and background as it relates to the positions you are applying for. An easy way to begin this process is to develop a list of skills related to the job using the job description. While you are reviewing the job description, you can highlight or write down the various skills referenced in the description. Once you have developed a list of skills they are seeking, you want to consider which of these skills you possess. You then want to identify specific examples that demonstrate how you have used these skills, this will allow you to have examples ready to share with the employer in your interview.
For instance, if I were in an interview and they were seeking a candidate with strong presentation skills, an example I could use to demonstrate my presentation abilities would be leading weekly Zoom workshops. In this example, I could go into detail about how I prepare for the workshop, techniques I use to engage my audience, and the success of my sessions. Providing a detailed example allows me to illustrate my abilities to the employer and shows them my ability to use these skills in their position.
As you are reflecting on who you are, you also want to consider how this position aligns with your short-term and long-term career goals. Hopefully, you have already identified some of your personal career goals. This could be anything from a specific position that you want when you graduate college, or where you see yourself in 10 to 15 years; to something as simple as you want to develop a certain set of skills, or what you hope to get out of the position. No matter what goals you have, you want to think about how the position that you’re interviewing for is going to fit into those goals, and be prepared to discuss this in your interview.
Maybe you’re starting your career journey and the internship position you are applying for fits really well with your short-term goals like developing a certain set of skills or gathering experience in a particular field. Or, maybe you interviewing for a position at your dream organization and you envision yourself there for several years in order to work your way up to higher position. No matter what stage you are in, having clear short-term and long-term goals that you can clearly articulate in the interview will benefit you.
Often times you are thinking about career goals, it is not uncommon for some people to consider additional education, such as a certificate or masters degree. As a job-seeker, if you are planning to pursue higher degrees/certifications, you want to carefully consider if you want to share this information with the interviewer. In some instances, the interview and the organization may look favorability on this goal and fully support their employees in their educational endeavors, especially those related to the positions you are applying for. There are even some employers who will financially help you with this.
On the other hand, there are other employers who look less favorably on this, as they may be concerned that you will be seeking higher pay and/or a promotion or that you will leave the position after you complete your degree. Given the two vastly different reactions, you will want to carefully research the organization where you are interviewing and determine if you want to share these goals with them in the interview or not. As always, you want to be honest with the employer. If you are already enrolled in the program, do not be untruthful about it.
As you are reflecting on who you are and your candidacy for the position, you want to ask yourself, What reservations would I have about hiring myself for this position? You want to take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the person interviewing you and objectively assess yourself as a candidate for the position. Consider things such as: do you have the needed skills for the position, if not, how can you demonstrate to the employer you will be able to quickly learn or develop them. Are there things in your background that might be a red flag to the employer, such as a low GPA or past work experience? If so, how can you help alleviate those concerns? Maybe this can be talking through a challenging semester and what you learned and how you have increased your GPA since then.
Maybe, it is explaining that you couldn’t fit an internship into your schedule because your full-time job was helping you pay for your degree. Having considered the reservations an employer might have about you before the interview will allow you to be ready to respond in a thoughtful and professional way if the reservations come up in your discussion with the employer. In addition to knowing about yourself, you want to be knowledgeable about the job and the career field.
You want to have a clear understanding of the position you are applying for. If you haven’t reread the job description and made notes of the skills that they mention, now would be a great time to do this. After you’ve made note of the skills, think about your skills and how they align with those the employer is looking for. If you haven’t already developed specific examples of how you demonstrated the skills they are looking for, this would be a great time to start thinking of examples that you can share in the interview. If there are aspects of the position you have questions about, jot them down to seek clarification when you are in the interview. You also want to make sure that you are familiar with the career field.
While researching the career field using the company websites, LinkedIn, Google, and professional organizations, can give you a good idea of what it’s like working in that industry. Reaching out to faculty and alumni who have experience in the field can also prove to be advantageous because you can talk to them about their experiences and learn a little bit more about the specifics of the career field. While researching the career field, you also want to look up common interview questions for the field and for the job.
This can give you an idea of the types of questions you may encounter in the interview, and can help you to start planning your responses, and/or things you want to discuss during your interview. Google and InterviewStream are great resources to use to help you find questions that relate to your job or career field. You also want to explore the trends that are happening in this career field. This ensures you’re up-to-date on changes and trends in the industry and are able to intelligently talk about them in the interview. It would not be unusual for an employer to ask you about how you see the field changing in the next few years.
Completing this research will help [you] have an educated and informed answer to these types of questions. In addition to knowing the job and field, you also want to know the organization. While every step in your preparation is important, researching the organization beforehand is very critical because this can help you positively stand out in your interview.
This research will help you learn about the company’s products and/or services, who their clients and/or customers are; what their mission, values and goals are; their locations; and their current events. Knowing this information will help you answer specific questions about the company and why you want to work for them. Armed with this information, you will be able to avoid generic answers such as “Your values really align with mine”, or “I like the direction you are going”. Instead you will be able to provide detailed answers to these questions that demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the organization.
As you are preparing for your interview, you also want to develop a list of questions for the employer. An interview is used to determine if there is a mutual fit between you and the organization. In other words, are they going to select you and are you going to select them? In most interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions for the employer. It is important that you use the provided time to ask them questions. It is critical that you develop good questions that allow you to learn more information about the company and show the employer your enthusiasm and interest in the organization.
To begin developing your list of questions, review the job description. While looking over this document, you may have specific questions about the specific day-to-day requirements of the role or about the organization itself. Make sure not to ask questions that you can simply Google the answer to, as this may come across as lazy or that you have not taken time to research the organization. Using the company website is another way to develop specific questions for the interviewer as you may have questions about the company culture or work environment.
While there are a wide variety of questions that you can ask the employer, there are a few things that you want to avoid bringing up in your interview, including salary and benefits. While both of these may be things you’re curious about, you should wait for the employer to bring them up. This will prevent you from appearing to be a candidate only interested in the role for the benefits and what the organization can do for you. You also want to avoid accusatory questions that put the organization on the defensive. Many of these questions begin with statements like, “Can you explain why?”.
For an example list of questions you may want to ask the employer, see the NKU Career Services Interviewing Guide which you can find on our website. Another thing to note about the questions you prepare for your interview is that it is generally acceptable-acceptable for you to take a list with you into the interview. When the employer asks if you have any questions for them, you can let them know you have prepared a list and ask if it is okay for you to get out your list. This will demonstrate your preparedness to them and keep you from forgetting the questions you wanted to ask.
Many people say that practice makes perfect, and while perfect may be an unattainable goal, practice does help us develop our skills and make us more comfortable when we are facing the unknown. Interviewing is an example of something where practice can make you more comfortable and prepared for your actual interview. First, you want to develop a list of possible questions you could be asked in your interview. You can find examples of questions by completing a Google search of different questions for your major, the industry, or the specific position you are interviewing for.
Once you’ve identified some possible questions, it is time to practice. There are several ways you can practice for your interview. First, you could create an outline of your answers to the questions you have developed. For this method, you would write short bullet list indicating what you want to touch on during your answer. Or, maybe you prefer to write out the full response to your answers. Both of these ways of practicing provide you with possible answers to review before the actual interview, to remind you of points you want to touch on. Another good way to practice your interview is by recording your answers.
There are multiple ways that you can choose to do this. One way is to simply us your phone, computer, or any other device or software to record yourself answering the questions you select. Then you and/or someone you trust can watch the video recording to identify areas that you did well on and ways you could improve. Once you’ve made your selection, you can record yourself and either watch the recording yourself, or send it to our office and we can review it for you and provide you with detailed feedback. InterviewStream is also a great place to find possible questions you might be asked based on your career interests.
Scheduling either a mock interview through Career Services is another great way that you can practice your interview. During one of these practice interviews, a member of our Mock Interview Team will make a personalized set of questions for you based on your career interests, major, and/or specific position. During your mock interview, you will be asked a prepared list of questions and be given time to answer them as if you were in an actual interview.
Then, the Mock Interviewer will provide you with feedback about your interview including tips for strategies for your answers. Finally, you can also practice your interview with a friend. Much like a mock interview, you can have a trusted friend act out the interview while you answer the questions that you have selected. Just like having a friend watch your video, you want to make sure that you don’t choose a friend who will only tell you how great you did, but instead you’ll want to pick someone who will provide you with honest and constructive feedback so that you can continue to develop and hone your skills.
The next step that you can take to prepare for your interview is to plan your attire. You want to make sure you dress professionally and conservatively. With this in mind, a suit is the most basic element because it appears professional. However, if you don’t have a suit, a nice button-down shirt and tie, nice top, or dress are also good options. You want to try to avoid including anything that can be distracting for you or the interviewer.
This can include jewelry, nail polish, or make-up. While any of these can be great accessories that add to a wardrobe, you also don’t want your look to be distracting for the person interviewing you. In addition to this, you want to avoid wearing too much cologne or perfume. While it’s encouraged that you practice good hygiene, you also want to be mindful that the person interviewing you may be sensitive to excessive scents. A final attire tip for you to consider when going to an in-person interview is to polish your shoes.
While this may seem like an odd step in preparing for your interview, it can actually show a lot about you. By making sure your shoes are clean and polished, you are demonstrating your attention to detail, which can reflect positively on you. If you are preparing for a video interview, consider testing your attire out beforehand. This will allow you to view how your attire looks on the screen and with your chosen background and make any needed adjustments before the actual video interview.
When it comes to a video interview, there are a few additional things that you can do in order to be the most prepared for your interview. First, you want to plan your setting for your interview. You want to select a location that is quiet and distraction-free for both you and the interviewer. Select a space that is free from noise distractions such as TVs that are on, people conversing, or pets. If you share your space with someone, let them know you will be in an interview so they do not interrupt you. The goal is for both you and the interviewer to be fully present in the interview and not distracted by other things in your space.
You should also consider distractions as it relates to your background. Remember the person interviewing you will be able to see what is in your background and unless you are using a virtual background they will be able to see everything. It is important to note that not all platforms will allow you to set a virtual background.
With this in mind, select a space to conduct your interview where your background can be neat, clean, and professional. Remember, an unorganized, cluttered, or noisy background can reflect poorly on you as a candidate for the position The next thing you should do is check your technology. While technology can be really great, there can also be times when it is not reliable. This makes it important to test your technology before your actual interview. Think about it like a dress rehearsal. During this practice run, you want to log onto your device to test out the software you’ll be using, like Zoom or Skype to make sure they are working properly and you know how to use them.
You may need to download a program or software for the video interview. If that is the case, this would be a great time to download it and become familiar with it so you know how it works before the actual interview. Testing your audio is also important. You want to make sure that your microphone and speakers are functioning properly. If you are using a microphone on your headphones, practice positioning the microphone so that your audio doesn’t cut in and out.
You also want to make sure you have digital copies of your resume, cover letter, and portfolio, if applicable, available to email or send via the chat to the employer during your interview. It is likely if you have already shared your resume with the employer they have it, but in the event they don’t, this will make it easy for you to access a copy to send to them. Additionally, you may want to have a copy of the job description handy, which allows you to have a copy of the same materials they are likely looking at.
Bringing pen and paper to the interview is also recommended so that you can jot down notes, record the names of the interviewers, and to write down the answers to the answers they provide you. Finally, you want to have a technology back-up plan in place. Asking yourself, “What will I do if something doesn’t work?”, before the actual interview will help you develop a back-up plan you can seamlessly use during the interview if needed.
This will demonstrate your ability to be prepared and show the employer how you respond under pressure. For on-site interviews, there are a few additional steps you can complete to help you fully prepare for your interview. For your on-site interview you want to prepare extra copies of your resume, transcript, and references to the interviewers. Just like having digital copies of the information prepared for your video interview, having paper copies of these things will make sure that employer in your interview has the copies of your information, and that you are looking at the same information as the interviewer.
It can also demonstrate your preparedness for the interview which reflects positively on you. If your interview is local, you may also choose to drive to the location of your interview, days in advance of your actual interview. This ensures you know how to get there, the driving time, and the best route to take, and potentially the traffic (if you are driving there at a similar time to when you would be for your actual interview). This allows you to scope out parking as well. This information will assist as you plan for your interview commute, help you arrive on time, and can increase your confidence going into the interview.
Finally, we have a few interview preparation tips for the day of the interview. You want to make sure you get plenty of rest and you are not hungry. Resting the night before the interview is very important because you want to make sure that you are alert during the interview and not yawning throughout. You also want to make sure that you are not hungry during your interview. If you’ve been in class when someone s stomach growled in the middle of it, then you know that it can become distracting for them and you.
That being said, make sure to eat something before your interview so you don’t become distracted or flustered during your interview. The next thing you want to do is plan for plenty of time to get ready for your interview. A good rule of thumb is to try to arrive to your interview ten to fifteen minutes before the actual interview