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Upcoming Interview? Follow These Preparation Tips for Success!

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By Tammy J. Halstead, Director of Alumni Advising & Development

As summer is slowly drawing to an end, it is a great time to rekindle your attention to your professional growth and to identify ways to build your career development acumen. Effective Interviewing is a perennial and vital professional development topic for good reason.  First, the vast majority of us will rely on this skill to help us reach our goals at some point in our lives, and; Second, because with a little (or a lot) of preparation and practice, you can make the move from clueless to stellar interview candidate!  Here is how…

  • Connect the job description to your experience.  Review the job description as it relates to your experience and make sure you can provide specific examples of times you performed the tasks or developed the skills that are important to the job. 
  • Practice telling the story of your experiences - and practice again.  For the examples or stories you hope to share with your interviewer, take time to practice (out loud) telling those stories, remembering that there could be a number of questions for which you could include a specific example.  Ask others to Video or audio tape yourself describing those experiences and make adjustments, then practice again :).
  • Give your voice energy - especially on the phone.  Remember that on the phone, neither you nor the interviewer have the benefit of reading body language and facial expressions, so your voice really has to count.  Allow yourself to show excitement and confidence with your voice.  Taking the phone call in a quiet environment where your voice is not competing with background noise is important and standing up during the conversation can give your voice more energy.
  • Know your audience - and the organization.  Research the organization and be prepared to share what you know and to field questions about the organization - your interviewer will want to know you spent time learning what they are all about.  If you know who you are interviewing with, make sure to read their LinkedIn profile and biography, if you can find one. 
  • Be ready with questions of your own.  Prepare a list of questions to ask your interviewer.  Good questions are open-ended, thoughtful, and demonstrate that you have researched the organization and position.  Avoid questions about the logistics of the position, hours, salary, benefits, etc.  Instead, craft questions that help you better understand 1) the responsibilities of the position and what a "day in life" would be like; 2) the culture of the organization; 3) the extent to which  the position is a good fit for your skills and interests; 4) the priorities of the organization and the role; and 5) the dynamics of the team and partners with which you will be working.
  • What to have in front of you… Whether by phone or in person it is good to have your application materials, notes, list of questions, paper, and pen in front of you during the interview.  You can feel free to jot down important ideas quickly, or reference your materials briefly.  Be mindful not to "get lost" in your papers - they are just for quick reference.  If the interview is in person, bring copies of your resume and cover letter printed on quality paper to present to your interviewer if needed, or to others who may unexpectedly pop in. 
  • Don’t forget to smile, breathe, and let your personality shine through - you will do great!
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