Once you have identified companies and positions of interest, established a strong professional brand through items such as your resume and online presence, and used networking strategies to build key relationships, you will be in an excellent position to land your ideal job or internship! Develop your interviewing skills to market yourself effectively to employers, use appropriate resources to negotiate salary and manage competing offers, and learn how to successfully transition into the workforce in your new role as an intern or full-time employee.
One part of a job search that nearly everyone struggles with at some point in time is interviewing. For many, just the thought of being in a room and having questions thrown at them by a company representative is daunting. However, interviewing does not have to be something you fear. Like a test in one of your classes, you already have most of the information, and it is just a matter of how much you prepare ahead of time.
Before the Interview: Prepare
1) Research the organization using tools such as the company’s website and LinkedIn page, Vault, Hoovers, and any professional contacts you may have developed at the company.
2) Ask the interviewer/recruiter ahead of time what to expect from the interview (this is perfectly acceptable to do). Types of interviews can include behavioral or case, and the interview may be conducted in several different forms, such as in-person, over the phone, or via skype. Practice your interviewing skills using InterviewStream.
3) Develop a solid understanding of what you bring to the table and why you are the best candidate for the position.
4) Determine what you will wear to your interview – use these guidelines for professional dress, but be sure to consider the standards and expectations for your industry. Ask your career coach or industry contacts for additional guidance and err on the side of conservative if you are unsure.
During the Interview: Perform
1) Arrive five to ten minutes early for the interview. Make a quick trip to the restroom to prevent discomfort during the interview and to do a final check of your appearance. Make sure your cell phone is off and out of sight. (You may want to do a test run to the interview location to ensure that you will arrive on time)
2) Be polite to ALL people you come into contact with throughout your visit, even if they are not actually interviewing you. Applicants have been rejected because they were polite to their interviewers, but rude to staff at the front desk!
3) Greet the interviewer, smile and shake hands firmly. Show enthusiasm throughout the interview by sitting upright, staying alert and making eye contact. Maintain an open posture by aligning your shoulders with those of your interviewer and do not fidget.
4) Listen and make sure you understand the question being asked. Take your time, clarify the question if necessary, and then proceed with your answer.
5) Make the interview as conversational as possible and remain positive and confident (but not cocky!) throughout. Ask questions of the interviewer, but be sure to avoid tricky topics such as salary.
6) At the end of the interview, shake hands again and thank the interviewer(s) for their time. Confirm the next steps in the process and the intended timeline for notifying candidates of their status. Ask for a business card so you can follow up after the interview with a thank you note.
After the Interview: Follow-up
Thank You Note:
- Send an individualized thank you note to each one of your interviewers via email as soon as possible, but no longer than 24 hours after your interview.
- Use your note to reiterate your interest in the position and thank the interviewer for his/her time. Reference something you discussed during the interview.
- To make an even stronger impression, follow your email with a handwritten note mailed to the interviewer’s office.
- If the interviewer shared a specific date by which they plan to inform candidates of their decision, wait until that date has passed before following up. If not, two weeks is an appropriate amount of time to wait before contacting the interviewer regarding your candidacy.
- As with the thank you note, you should reiterate your interest in the position and thank the interviewer for his/her time when following up. Let the interviewer know that you are reaching out regarding the status of your candidacy and hope to hear from them soon.
- If you still do not receive a response, wait one more week before initiating contact again.
TYPES OF INTERVIEWS
Behavioral Interviews are based on the premise that “Past Performance is indicative of Future Success.” By asking about how someone has acted/reacted to a given situation in the past, an interviewer can get a clear picture of how that candidate will likely act in a similar situation in the future. Behavioral questions typically focus the candidate on a specific experience in the past. Common questions start with: “Can you tell me about a time when….?” “ Have you ever encountered …..; if so, could you tell me about it?” ”Can you give me a specific example when….?”
To ensure your answer is specific as possible, it is helpful to use the Situation-Action-Result Model.
- Situation: What does the interviewer absolutely need to know to understand the actions you took—nothing more, nothing less.
- Action: What did you do specifically? If you find yourself saying phrases like: “ I would have..” or “I usually..” or “We did…” then you are probably being too general about your actions or talking about your actions in terms of the actions of the group. Interviewers want to know what you specifically did—even if you were part of a team.
- Result: What happened as a result of your actions? Remember, behavioral interviewers believe that past performance is indicative of future success. If you don’t tell me the results, how do they know I succeeded in the past?
- Keep a notebook of your projects and accomplishments throughout the year. Write them out as Situation, Action, Result.
- Understand what skills you need to highlight. There are 1,000s of different iterations of behavioral interview questions. However—most of the time—they are all asking about the same skills, just in different ways. Make sure you have examples that cover skills such as: complex problem solving skills, adaptability, relationship building skills, effective communications skills, initiative, leadership, team work and the ability to deal with setbacks.
- Practice, practice, practice. Don’t over-rehearse, should be natural flow; articulate out loud.
Recruiters use case interviews to measure your thought process and how you analyze complex business problems. The interviewer will present you with an open-ended business problem or issue and ask you to discuss it or solve the problem. The case interview is an interactive process. Your job is to ask the interviewer logical questions that will enable you to make a recommendation that solves the case. There is no right or wrong answer. The interviewer is trying to assess your thought process and determine if it is analytical and creative.
The process you should use to answer the case includes:
- Identifying the relevant issues in the case
- Formulating the problem so it can be solved
- Applying relevant analytics to solve the case
- Supporting and defending your analysis and conclusions that follow
For more case interview strategies and an overview of the types of cases, please visit The Complete Case Interviewing Guide
Phone interviews may be general, behavioral or—on rare occasions—case interviews. Many employers use them as an initial screening, especially for applicants who would have to travel long distances to interview in person. Employers also use phone interviews to eliminate people when they have too many candidates. Take a phone screen interview seriously.
Before the Interview
- Gather all materials you may need – resume, job description, company research, etc. and keep everything near the phone.
- Practice with a friend. Ask him or her how you sound on the phone. Are you using inflection in your voice? Do you sound interested and enthusiastic?
- Don’t forget to make your answering machine message on your home and cell phone sound professional. You never know when an employer may call.
- Prepare answers to typical questions
During the Interview
- Be enthusiastic and assertive. Remember that you don’t have the benefits of expression and eye contact to show your interest and excitement.
- Provide specific examples of projects and accomplishments that showcase your skills.
- Dress professionally. Although the interviewer can’t see you, you are more likely to sound professional and confident.
- Avoid speaking too quickly, having music or noise in the background, chewing gum or eating, speaking too closely to the receiver, etc. In short, avoid anything that can create an unpleasant image.
- Ignore call waiting! Give the interviewer your undivided attention.
More companies are beginning to use Skype interviews as a replacement for either phone interviews or initial in-person interviews. At times, some companies have been known to use Skype interviews throughout the entire interview process! It’s important to note that Skype interviews are EXACTLY like regular in-person interviews. Interviewers can still assess your body language and your professional dress. Treat Skype interviews exactly like you would an in-person interview.
- Test out Skype beforehand to make sure your video/audio work correctly.
- “Arrive” 5-10 minutes before your interview begins to make sure you are there to answer their call.
- Select a room where there is a neutral background behind you.
- Dress like you would for an in-person interview.
- Don’t panic if there are technical difficulties. This happens! Simply email or call the interviewer to see what they would like to do. Likely, they will continue the interview over the phone.
Many students assume that salary and/or benefits are not negotiable. Many companies, however, expect negotiations and leave in “wiggle room” in their offer. Some companies, however, do not negotiate or may not be able to offer students what they expect in terms of salary. Unless a company states upfront that they do not negotiate, it is appropriate to ask for a higher salary and/or benefits in a respectful, appropriate manner, after you have been offered a job.
Whether you are negotiating your salary or looking to research your prospective salary range, you can use the following resources.
- Career Coach – FDFCC undergraduate career consultants are here to walk you through negotiation techniques and/or help you interpret salary research in your field.
- Salary Research tools: The following tools provide salary overviews by industry, company and—in some instances—by job:
Negotiating Competing Offers
A common challenge for students is deciding between multiple offers – or, even more complicated, managing a current offer while waiting to hear back from a top choice employer. Speak with your career coach to discuss an appropriate strategy for approaching competing offers.
Accept Offer & Transition to Workforce
Whether it’s an internship or full-time position, you should always make the most of your first couple of months on the job:
- Read the book “Your First 90 Days,” which contains strategies to help you integrate more quickly into your new role.
- Talk with your supervisor about his/her goals for you, the position and for the team.
- Identify stakeholders and mentors within the organization that would be beneficial for you to get to know. Before reaching out, make sure you understand your organization’s best practices for reaching out to people outside of your group.
- Keep a notebook of your projects and accomplishments. As an intern, this will help you for your next internship or job search. As a full-time employee, it will help you define your goals, craft your self-evaluations and speak to your accomplishments. You never know when you will be in an elevator with a VP who asks you what you’ve been up to!
- Give yourself time to understand what is going on. Every organization has different cultures, processes and language. Like a resident in a new country, you’ll need to give yourself time to acclimate.
Landing the Job Quick Links
Online Resources for Offer Negotiation
- Indeed.com Salary Information
- Wall Street Journal Career Journal
- SimplyHired Salary
Accept Offer & Transition to Workforce
- Career coaching
- “Your First 90 Days” book