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October 7, 2020

Career Services

Tips for mastering the interview.

Interviews can be an opportunity to showcase your strengths and qualifications. The key is preparation.

Content developed by Jillian Davis, Campus Recruiter, Fresenius Medical Care North America

You’ve found a job opening with the company of your dreams. You apply for the position, and secure an interview. You’re a foot in the door! Now comes the dreaded job interview.

Job interviews can be a stressful experience for job seekers, but no need to fret. Interviews are an excellent opportunity to showcase your strengths and qualifications for the role. What’s the key? Preparation.

Online interview

The interview starts before you walk into (or virtually enter) the conference room. Chances are, your potential employer already has your resume at hand, ready to walk through it step by step. In an in-person interview, print at least three additional copies and offer one to the interviewer right when you walk in. This shows initiative and that you are prepared. In a virtual environment, send your resume about an hour ahead of the interview to keep your information readily available and top of mind

Perfect your elevator pitch introduction. We’ve all been there. You’re sitting down in front of your interviewer face-to-face for the first time. The employer says, ‘Tell me about yourself’ and you think, ’jeez, where do I start?’ This introduction is an important opportunity to present your greatest accomplishments and relevant skill competencies. Use this a chance to highlight your industry expertise, and keep your introduction brief. You’ll be able to elaborate on those qualities later in the interview.  

Research the company and job description beforehand. Explore the company website and familiarize yourself with their core values. Impress your interviewer by listing off some company statistics, and aligning your competencies with the organization’s values. Employers can distinguish which candidates have some base knowledge about the company and the role, and which candidates do not. If you really want the job, go the extra mile.

Master the S.T.A.R Method. S.T.A.R. stands for Situation, Task, Action, Results. We also call these types of interview questions behavioral interview questions. Employers ask these questions to evaluate how you’ve handled certain situations in the past, and how you would handle similar situations on the job. Check out some common behavioral interview questions here.

  • Always listen to the question carefully, ask for clarification if necessary, and answer the question completely. Choose to recount a story with a positive outcome. Begin by illustrating the Situation, or the background of your story - set the scene for your narrative. Explain the Task you were presented with, and keep it specific and relatable to the question at hand. Describe the Action you took to solve the problem, while keeping the competencies you’d like to highlight in mind. Then present the Result of your action to bring your answer full-circle and appropriately answer the question.
  • What success stories can you recall that exemplify the qualities you possess that you’d like to showcase for this employer? Prepare a number of ‘success story’ responses to various behavioral interview questions before your interview. Print your answers out to keep close during the interview, but don’t read a script. Your interviewer will know.

Prepare strong questions for your interviewer. Interviews are a two-way conversation. Asking your interviewer questions about the position, company, and interview process will not only show that you’re engaged and eager to land the job, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn as much about the role as possible. Make a list of compelling and applicable questions before your interview.

Keep paper and a pen close to take notes. This tip proves especially helpful when asking final questions about the information you’ve learned during the interview, as well as preparing for any additional rounds of future interviews. Keeping a copy of your resume available to you, to reference dates and relevant experience, is also helpful in this situation.

Tips for a video interview in the age of virtual job hunting:

  • Get dressed up. I’m a true believer of look good, feel good. Putting on some professional clothes will put you in the right mindset for your interview. Since, in most cases, your interviewer will only be able to see your top half, it’s important to look professional to make a good first impression (even if you’re wearing pajama bottoms). I even dress up for phone interviews to give me an extra boost of confidence.
  • Keep a glass of water handy. Interviews can be nerve racking and can give many of us dry mouth, so it’s always a good idea to have one close—just in case.
  • Test the video conferencing platform before your interview. Make sure your camera and microphone are up and running, and that you’ve downloaded the necessary programs before your interview. Make sure you have a strong internet connection.
  • Find a quiet place. With the zoo of kids and animals running around my house, I find locking myself in my car to be the best way to avoid the chaos and background noise.

Send a follow-up thank you note. Quite possibly the most important step of the interview process—always send a follow up email to your interviewer expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to interview, and to reiterate your interest in the position. This quick and easy step will make you stand out against other candidates, and will put your email address at the top of your interviewer’s inbox. Follow up one to two weeks post-interview to inquire on the status of your application.

Know your worth. This seems self-explanatory, but often gets lost behind nerves and excitement. You have passed the resume screening and phone interview. You know you are qualified for the role and now it is time to prove why. Don’t forget, you can provide value.

Use these tips to tackle your next big interview, and you’re one step closer to landing your dream job!

STAR Method Technique Interview Questions & Answers,  

You can also check out additional Interviewing Resources or book a mock interview with a WGU Career Advisor today!

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