Archive for the ‘Interview Prep’ Category

Often times being unprepared and caught without some crucial items can throw off your confidence level. The better prepared you are, the better you can relax and present yourself as the best solution to the employer’s problem and the tremendous asset you would be to the company! Having the follow items below will help make your interview mroe enjoyable and flow smoother!

  1. Cell phone, in case of an emergency, which is the only acceptable reason for showing up late. (Note: Turn cell phone OFF before entering company doors.)
  2. An extra or list of past employment dates, supervisors, and education in case asked to fill out a job application (Note: Leave $alary field blank.)
  3. List of at least three pre-screened references (Note: Often asked on application and asked for a copy during the interview.)
  4. Note about people you’ve spoken to while phone screening and scheduling interview.
  5. Snack (something small that will give you an energy boast if interview time is extended.)
  6. Accessories (tissues, breath mints, lip gloss, cough drops, stain lifter, etc.)
  7. Business cards ( easy access for the employer for future contacts.)


” He can inspire a group only if he himself is filled with confidence and hope of success.”     ~Floyd V. Filson


“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” – Ben Franklin

It is important to be well-prepared for the interview job seekers. Below are a list of item you should carry to your interview.

  1. Map/Directions (Note: Drive by the business or general area  a few days prior to interviewing to get a sense of direction.)
  2. Bus/train/cab fare or a full tank of gas
  3. Name, title, and phone number of the person to ask for upon arrival
  4. Pen and paper
  5. Additional copies of your resume and cover letter ( enough for yourself plus each interviewer)
  6. At least 5 questions prepared to ask interviewer
  7. Samples or portfolio of related work you’ve done in the past
  8. Copy of the job description
  9. Letter of Recommendation
  10. Anything else the employer has specifically asked you to bring!

Photo by: MSN images


There are certain things that an interviewee should avoid saying during an interview.  Your statements asked can send and alarm to the interviewer that you may not meet one of the criteria. The things you must avoid are the following:

1.  Never Initiate in Salary Discussions or Demands The interview is not the time to negotiate salary. Salary is generally discussed during your second interview (if conducted) or after you have been offered the position.

2.  Health Care Benefits-Frivolous questions about heath care benefits can be distracting to the interviewer and wastes time you could be using to sell your capabilities.

3.  Tuition Reimbursement- Many employers ask the question, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? Perhaps, your desire is to further your education, although avoid asking about tuition reimbursements. Employers may often times touch upon their goals after you’ve been hired, but only after your demonstrate your capable of handling the job at hand will they pursue paying for your degree.

4.   Never Give Negative Comments-Never give negative comments about your former co-workers and employees because this makes your negative impact on the interviewer.

5.  Holidays and Sick Leave- Never ask about the holiday and sick leave because an employer will think you are more interested in time rather than in job itself.

6.  Never say “What is it your company does again?”- You were to have been prepared for the interview, it’s best to know about the company before arriving to the interview.

7.  Never Say That You Don’t Have Any Negative Points- The most commonly asked question asked during an interview, list all your negative qualities.  For such question you should already have answered in your mind. For example, a weakness may pertain to being disorganized or preferring to work alone, and not team oriented. After expressing your weaknesses that you are working on overcoming your weak points.

8.  Never Make Dishonest or Misleading Statements- You want to impress the interviewer, but always remember that a lie never has legs of its own to stand up, while a small truth prevails. Be confident and honest while making your statements during the interview.


It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect It’s successful outcome.”             – William James

Behavioral based interviewing is currently being used worldwide.  Behavioral based interviewing is said to be the most accurate predictor in the future performance is past performance in similar situations.  Behavioral interviewing, in fact is 55% predictive for future on- the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10% predictive.  Traditional interviewing focused upon very general questions such as; tell me about yourself, what are your strengths and describe a typical work week. Interviewers will still incorporate a few traditional based questions, but they are just to get a feel of the candidate. For example, tell me more about your last job, why did you leave your last job, and why are you interested in this job?  Companies are now changing the interview process an interviewing environment. Instead of focusing on and asking how you would behave, they will ask how you did behave.  The behavioral based interviewing style is based strictly on a specific “situation” and focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related. For example, the task that needed to be done, the action you took, and the results (what happened.)  It’s important to keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers. The interviewer is simply trying to understand how you behaved in a given situation. How you respond will determine if there is a fit between your skills and the position the company is seeking to fill. So, listen carefully, be clear and detailed when you respond and, most importantly, be honest. Employers are able to evaluate a candidate’s experience and behaviors of the questions asked to determine the applicants potential for success.

Preparation for the Potential Behavioral Interview

It is difficult to prepare yourself for a behavioral-based interview because of the variety of questions you may be asked.   The best way to prepare is to think about example stories that can be adapted into many behavioral based questions.  What are good examples to use? Use internships, classes and school projects, sports participation, community service, hobbies and work experience. Also, you may want to use examples of special accomplishments (personal or professional). Maybe you were elected to be on an organization’s board, winning a prize, raising money for a charity…the list goes on of special accomplishments that are very important to you.  After all, you are trying to impress the interviewing team!  Knowing what kinds of questions might be asked will help you prepare an effective selection of examples. Below are a list to help you get started and thinking in the right path of potential questions…

  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it?
  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure?
  • How would you resolve a customer service problem where the customer demanded an immediate refund?
  • Tell me about a time you had to juggle a number of work priorities. What did you do?
  • Describe a difficult problem that you tried to solve. How did you identify the problem? How did you go about trying to solve it?
  • Describe a situation when you took a risk professionally. What was the outcome?
  • Describe a situation in which you worked as part of a team but your team failed to accomplish the goal on time and within budget. What was your role? What did you learn?
  • Describe a situation working in a group or team where there was interpersonal conflict. Describe how you approached the conflict. What worked and what didn’t? How did you manage the outcome?

Are you caught in a blur and unable to think of interview questions to ask during your interview? Below are list of effective interview questions that I have provided to help get started on becoming successful in your career pursuits. Best of luck at your interview!!


-Could you describe your company’s management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?
-When are you going to make a hiring decision and what are companies hiring steps?
-What are some of the skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
-What are the opportunities for advancement?
-Will traveling take place in this position? If, so how often.
-What are the greatest challenges facing the person in this position?
-How will your performance be evaluated?
-What is the company’s policy on providing seminars, workshops, and training so employees can keep up their skills or acquire new ones?
-What are the company’s plans for growth in the next five years?
-What kind of work can I expect to be doing the first year?
-Who would supervise me?
-Is this a new position or am I replacing someone?
-How big is the team that I’d be working with?
-How much guidance or assistance is made available to individuals in developing career goals?
-What are the opportunities for advancement?
-How much opportunity will I have for decision-making in my first assignment?
                                                       An interview is a two-way street.
                                                           (A polite street, with traffic rules.)

At the end of a formal interview an employer should, and will typically provide an opportunity for you to ask additional questions that were not answered during the interview.  Always prepare to ask questions!!  Having no questions prepared sends a message to the employer that you are unprepared. Often time’s employers place their judgment on questions asked. Therefore, employers are looking for questions that are intelligent, thoughtful and cordial!  It comes down to YOU! Have you done your  research (homework) on the company? Asking rather dull questions that could be found and answered on the website you again shows you didn’t utilize your resources before the interview.

Next, you’re thinking how many questions should you ask? There is no set number; it depends on what you need to know. It is very unlikely that you would enter an interview without at least three to five questions on your mind. Have those questions printed out on a word document and ready to present the day of your interview.  Prioritize your questions based on the interview situation and feel free to jot additional questions during the interview to ask at the end.

Some of your questions you have prepared may be answered during the course of the interview, before you are offered the opportunity to ask. If so, you can simply state something to the effect that you were interested in knowing about…..,but that was addressed during the interview.  Therefore, that shows the employer your prepared and thinking ahead! When information is given make sure you express appreciation for the thorough answer that was given. If you do not understand the information presented to you, ask for additional clarification. After all, you want to leave the interview feeling confident and content, not feeling befuddled on how the company operates.


Photo by: Stefan Baudy



Below are 10 multiple choice questions about interviewing….

 Click Here: Interview Prep Quiz

Photo by: Thesjsucareercenter


Basic career etiquette dictates that you send a thank you note to prospective employers after your interview.  While it may seem old-fashioned or even unnecessary, it makes a big difference.  Most importantly, it’s an opportunity for the interviewer to see your name again and remind them of your specific interview.   Here are a few tips to penning a thank you that will give you the edge.

Consider an electronic AND snail mail thank you

An email thank you can be sent within hours of your interview.  This is helpful as many companies may be making quick hiring decisions and there may not be time for them to receive a mailed card.  However, still take the time to write a hand penned note (you may want to invest in some quality stationary if you plan to apply for several openings).

Be Specific

Include two specific references to your interview in your thank you note – one particular strength that you feel would assist their organization and one aspect of the company culture of philosophy that resonates with you.  This helps to show them that YOU were paying attention and reminds them what sets you apart from other applicants.   (i.e. I enjoyed our conversation about your entrepreneurial culture and feel my creative background would contribute to your growth…. sounds better than …my strong skills would help your growing company).  You want them to read your note and remember that you were their favorite applicant.

Reinforce your Interest

Be sure to close with a strong statement of your interest in the position.  Employers want to be confident that if they offer you an internship or full time job that you will say YES.  Leave no doubt in their mind that their position is the one that you want.

And I know it sounds like common sense but…….WRITE LEGIBLY!

Hand written notes are  a nice touch, but they only work if the recipient can read them.  I’ve received thank you notes with a signature so scribbled that I couldn’t even tell who it was from!  Do your best to print neatly and if your penmanship is TRULY that horrible, then type a nice letter and be sure to sign your name.


I volunteer with a leadership program that is targeted towards sophomores in high school.  Our session this past week was on values and more specifically, values as they tie to our careers.   I initially had concerns about discussing such an important topic with 15 year olds – I mean, let’s be honest… most adults haven’t figured this stuff out.  But, the sophomores loved it.  And not only did they love it, but they had incredible conversations about the topic.

Which made me think… if values are an important career topic for high schoolers, then they are an even more important topic for undergraduates & young professionals.   So let’s take a moment and talk values:

1. What are values?

Just like other buzz words, there are thousands of definitions of the word value.   However, I heard a definition a few years ago that truly resonated with me – personal values are like an internal compass, consistently pointing you towards a true north in your life.  In other words, your personal values are principles that assist you in making life decisions.

2. What are MY Values?

The most important step is to THINK about your values and commit to living them out every single day.  A list of common values is listed at the top of this post.  The best way I’ve found to START the process of identifying your values is to look at a common list and circle approximately 10 that resonate with you.  Then think about what is truly important to you and what makes you happiest and try to shorten your list to 5 values.  Then discuss the topic with family and friends and try to come up with 2 or 3 that are the MOST IMPORTANT VALUES.  In other words, the principles that are most important to your life.

3. Values and Internships/First Jobs – A time to test congruency

Your internship or first professional position are the perfect time to a more in depth understanding of your personal values and to ensure that your actions are congruent to your values.    This time will also be an opportunity for you to see how your personal values connect to the organization your serve.  Look for positions that will allow you to integrate your personal values on a daily basis.  And…. if it doesn’t work out, use it as a lesson to search for your next position or job opportunity.

4. Values & the rest of my Career

Alright, so this values stuff is starting to make sense.  You’ve gained an appreciation for the principles that are most important in your life and this gives you a firm foundation for planning future career goals.   Say that you’ve identified relationships, education and success as three key values in your life (yes, I’m being transparent here…these are my top 3 values).  Then start looking for a job where you can live out these values on a daily basis.  And remember that values are a lifelong process…but making a commitment to identifying and living out your values will help you find a job that not only makes you money, but also leaves you with true satisfaction.

We will be adding constant internship search tips and resources throughout the fall semester… keep checking our site daily for future entries on :

  • How to find and secure internships ABROAD
  • Deciding between an internship at a small company versus a large corporation
  • Tips for visiting your school’s Internship/Career Fair
  • Using the right KEYWORDS to help your resume rise to the top of the pile!
  • Specific advice on finding internships in engineering, business and technology
  • GREEN internships  – tackling the nation’s energy crisis one internship at a time