Take Your Interviews to the Next Level

02/07/2013


Being interviewed is intimidating for many people, but having a clear idea of what to expect and how to prepare can help relieve some of that stress. The Interviewing in Action workshop, an extension of Interviewing Basics, gave students an overview of essential tips and even gave them time to practice their skills. The most simplified strategy to ace an interview is to determine what employers want and assure them you have it in a thoughtfully tailored package.

Employers are seeking applicants with great problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills, and future employees generally need to demonstrate these desired traits through their responses to interview questions. Behavioral questions that draw out how a candidate has acted in certain situations are commonly asked because past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. The STAR and BAR methods are great tools for formatting concise and meaningful answers. S(ituation)T(ask) and B(ackground) refer to the background information that sets up the scene for the interviewer – this should include information about the people involved, the objective, and the role you played in meeting that objective. During the A(ction) component of your answer, take the interviewer through the most important steps you took in responding to the situation. Finally, conclude with R(esults), which is a crucial element that many students leave off; it communicates what came about following your actions. If you got an A on that creative team project, say it! Did something improve? Did you learn something that has helped you grow? Talking about what you've taken away from a situation is especially important when answering questions about challenges you've faced. We all have times when things didn't go exactly as we'd anticipated, and interviewers often ask about them, so embrace past obstacles as chances to prove your strength and positivity.

Reducing filler words such as “um” and “like”, minimizing hand motions, speaking clearly, asking for clarity, taking some time to think before answering, and keeping what you share about your personal life to a minimum are  other tips for ensuring that you display professionalism. There is a science to being a great interviewee, but there is an art to it as well. It is helpful to have a basic interviewing preparation process for organizing your thoughts that also allows some flexibility. UCS has fantastic resources for all things “interview”: schedule an appointment with an advisor for a mock interview or even practice for a virtual interview. You have rehearsed the steps, gathered great experiences to demonstrate your unique qualities, and chosen the perfect attire; it's OK to smile and relax – you deserve it!