You have to know more than just the basic mission statement and the masthead on the website. Find a way to connect to the places you apply to by reading about the group’s current endeavors, the job description you applied for, and any initiatives they have information about on their site or in the news. If something really makes an impression on you, mention this as you reveal your motivation to seek the position.
Also, use declarative and assertive language when answering questions about how your experiences fit the role such as, “As a member of your team, I will bring the kind of organizational qualities you say you are looking for with this role. I am a self-starter evidenced by all the times I have taken the lead role in projects and work as you read on my resume. Additionally, I know I can learn a great deal from my more experienced colleagues at this company and I look forward to that challenge.”
Practice Selling Product YOU
Aside from knowing your stuff on the company and the job, you have to know how to sell YOU to an employer. If you get called in for an interview, they already think you have the basics of what they are looking for. Now it is a matter of finding the right fit for the culture. Because this can vary greatly even between companies in the same industry, you will need to select the three or four or five skills you have at this point which you can demonstrate for your interviewers. Remember, every answer you give should demonstrate your knowledge, ability to learn, correct mistakes, accept instruction, and how those experiences will make you a great whatever you are applying and interviewing for.
Shine Those Situations
Situation – Task – Action – Result. The STAR method of answering those “Tell me a time when you…” questions. Don’t fall into the trap of spending too much time on the Situation and Task. Give enough information so that the stage is set and anyone can follow you. Spend your answer describing in appropriate detail YOUR actions and the results of those actions. Don’t be afraid to take credit where it is due and don’t be afraid to say it didn’t work but you learned valuable lessons from the experience. Remember, if you go in to an interview wanting to highlight three to five (3-5) of your skills, think of two (2) or three (3) stories for each and frame them using the STAR method. You will have plenty to talk about for sure.
Nothing says “unprepared” more than not having a list of questions to ask your interviewers.
Ask about details of the position. What you will do on a weekly basis. How many people will you work with on projects? What is your supervision structure?
Read something recent about the company in the news and bring it up during your questions. Even if it isn’t flattering, ask about it. Say a company has closed some plants. Let them know you read about it and inquire how those “right-sizing” changes will further the company’s immediate and further development. You will sound like someone who did your homework and asks intelligent questions.
Ask your interviewers about her/his background and why being a part of the organization is fulfilling. People love to talk about their jobs to those who show genuine interest. If you’ve learned how to talk to your professors outside of class, use the same techniques. They will work here too.
Practice, Use Your Resources
Whether you schedule time to do a mock interview with one our Career Counselors or you set some up for yourself using our InterviewStream software, practice is a key to success in interviews. Reviewing your practice interviews with someone objective – a Career Counselor, Advisor, Faculty Member - can give you valuable feedback and help you make positive changes as you progress through the interview process.
You can find more resources on the Career Center website: auburn.edu/career/interviews .
Post by: Jay Skipworth
Assistant Director of Employer Relations
Auburn University Career Center