Career Guidance

Aryuna Radnaeva

The Interview Process – Preparing, Interviewing, & Following Up

By Aryuna Radnaeva

Congratulations! You applied for a job, and were just invited by the employers to interview for the position. This means that you are one step closer to getting the job – but you still have to get through the interview process...

Why Is The Interview So Important?[1]

It’s a chance for the hiring manager or interviewer to see if you are good fit for the position, organization, and whether or not you’re qualified to do the job. They will have a small snippet of who you are based on your application package, but this will be their chance to assess you in person and learn more about:

  • Your personality and how it fits with the organization or company
  • How well you present yourself and your oral communication skills
  • Your motivation, interest, and enthusiasm for taking on the position

It’s also your opportunity to meet with someone from the organization to learn more about the organization and position, what the company is willing to offer you, and most importantly IF YOU think the organization/position is a good fit for you. 

Preparing For The Interview

Don’t underestimate the power of taking the time to prepare for an interview! Preparation is the key ingredient for a successful interview. Granted you are not a mind reader and can’t predict all the questions that the interviewer will ask you, but careful planning and preparation will help ensure your interview goes smoothly and calms your nerves!

  • Read through the organization’s website, not once but a couple of times and take notes! Important information will include the about section, mission statement and vision, departments/programs or projects associated with the position you are interviewing for.  Also, check out bios to learn about the leadership and staff that you will be working with directly. 
  • Re-read the opportunity posting. Prepare a running list of questions that you may have or aspects of the job or organization you want clarification on.
  • Re-read your application package to remind yourself what information you provided to the interviewer. By doing this, you can anticipate the interviewer asking you more details about the experiences and skills you have listed.
  • Plan ahead on how you will get to the interview! Give yourself enough time to arrive to the interview 10 – 15 minutes early regardless of traffic jams or delayed trains etc. 
  • Break out the iron and ironing board if you have to! Plan out your outfit from the night before, keeping in mind to dress professionally. Consider bringing a small notepad and pen to write down important information the interviewer may provide.
  • Consider bringing a small notepad and pen to write down important information the interviewer may provide.
  • Lastly, remind yourself why you want this job in this particular career field. Knowing the roots of your own personal enthusiasm and motivations is important in being able to express them to the interviewer and future employers.

At The Interview

There aren't any right or wrong answers to interview questions. It’s about how you compose and conduct yourself that is important. Remember to be yourself – if you have to put on a complete act to get through the interview, is this position right for you?

Types Of Interviews
  • Competency-Based Interviews

Also known as a “structured” or “situational” interview, is designed to asked questions to help interviewees reveal personal qualities that are needed to perform the job well. Typically, these questions are phrased in such a manner that you need to provide an example where you’ve demonstrated the desired qualities.

  • Traditional Interviews

These types of interviews are intended to be more like a conversation, but a conversation with a purpose. It’s essentially up to you to show that you are right for the job. The interviewee is expected to talk a lot more than what you would normally expect, so don’t make your answers too brief. In addition, you may also be asked challenging questions in order to stimulate discussion. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground!

Typical Questions You Can Expect To Be Asked
  • Competency –Based Interview Questions
    • Describe a situation where you had to…
      • Show leadership
      • Resolve a conflict with a co-worker
      • Work as a member of a team
      • Show initiative
  • Traditional Interview Questions
    • Tell me about yourself
    • What are your main strengths and weaknesses?
    • Where do you see yourself in five years?
    • What are your future ambitions?
  • Knowledge About The Organization/Career Field Questions
    • What do you know about our organization?
    • Do you know what of audience/population we work with?
    • What do you think are the three biggest challenges that this career field is facing?
  • Hypothetical Questions
    • These questions are used to test your ability to think quickly, logically, and produce practical solutions. Don’t panic! It’s ok to take a few seconds to collect your thoughts and verbalize an answer. The interviewer won’t be looking for a perfect answer, but do try to provide a reasonable, well thought out, and confident sounding response. You might be asked:
Using the whiteboard, show me how you would go about registering your staff for an upcoming conference, but only 5 staff members can go each day and each staff member can attend two days of conference?

Using the props in front you, give me a demonstration of how you would go about giving a school lesson for a natural science class in high school.
  • Questions You Can Ask
    • How do you envision this program/project/department growing?
    • What does lunch time look like here?
    • Can you provide more information about salary and benefits?
    • What drives results for the organization?
    • When should I hear back about the status of my application?
  • Opening Up Closed Questions
    • Closed questions are typically answered with a “yes” or “no,” but take the initiative to open up the discussion by adding a little more of an explanation to your answer. For example:
Interviewer: “Are you comfortable with changes in your work schedule and working outside of the typical 9 – 5 work week?
Interviewee: “Absolutely, I understand that things happen and I am flexible with schedule changes. What types of situations may cause a change in schedule?”

Following Up After The Interview

Within 24 hours of your interview be sure to send a thank you note via email. To ensure that you don’t forget this step, send an email as soon as you get home. Your email should:

  • Thank the interviewer for their time conducting an interview with you
  • Follow up on any discussion points that you said you would give confirmation on i.e. availability
  • Convey your eagerness to hear back from the them in regards to the position and willingness to provide more information if needed

A habit that most people these days do not consider after having an interview is sending a thank you note via snail mail, in addition to your email. While it does take significantly longer to get to the interviewer, it is a small gesture that is greatly appreciated and shows that you are willing to go the extra step.

Now it’s time to play the waiting game! Expect to hear results from your interview within a week to a month or longer. Not every interview will result in an immediate job. You might pass the first interview, but need to go through another round of interviews.

If you don’t hear back from the organization in the allotted time frame, consider sending a follow up email to the interviewer politely asking for a status update. This will show you are a serious candidate and still interested in the position. 

Hopefully in a few weeks you will receive good news and will be offered the position! If not, that’s ok. It’s an opportunity to learn from this experience. You should always send an email in response stating your appreciation for being considered for the position. Consider asking the interviewer to provide feedback on your application package and interview to see if there are ways in which you can improve for future interviews. Be aware that not all interviewers are willing to spend the time to provide this feedback. But all in all, you should feel accomplished in being selected for an interview =)

interview-picture.png#asset:297Helpful reminders for the interview process

[1] Kent University career guide