Before scheduling a practice interview with a Career Counselor, you will need to spend time reflecting on how your experiences relate to employer requirements. This exercise will help you organize your interview presentation.
What Employers Want
Let's begin by looking at the top 10 qualities employers seek:
- Communication Skills
- Honesty and integrity
- Interpersonal Skills
- Strong work ethic
- Motivation and initiative
- Problem-solving skills
- Technical skills
- Organizational Skills
Your interview preparation should include examples from experiences where you demonstrated these qualities.
Most interviewers will use behavioral style questions (past behavior is a good predictor of future success) to get at these qualities. For example: “By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide varety of people, situations and environments.” (interpersonal skills).
Here is another behavioral interview style question: "What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision?" (analytical or problem solving skills). Begin by citing a past situation that relates to the question. Can you talk about a time when you defined a problem, how you planned the solution, what obstacles you encountered, and the outcome? Tell what you did specifically. Your answer should contain these parts: Situation, Task, Action, and Result or the STAR method.
S - What was a Situation that relates to the question?
T - What were your Tasks?
A - What Action did you Take?
R - What was the Result?
Situation: Give an example of a situation where you had to study a problem before making a decision.
Task: Describe your process and the tasks involved
Action: Talk about the various actions that you used
Result: What were the results that followed because of your actions?
It is helpful to frame your answer as a story. Expect follow up questions to center on the specific behaviors the interviewer is looking for. "Tell me more about your thoughts at that point?". When ever you can honestly quantify your experience (I supervised 5 lifeguards, increased distribution by 2%), this will add depth to your explanation.
Your resume will serve as a guide to the interviewer asking you the questions and it should serve as a guide to the examples you cite from past experiences. Use examples from internships, classes, team projects, community service, etc.
Interview Preparation Exercise: Under each headling, cite examples of your own using the STAR method. Develop short stories around your experiences to describe your strengths and possible obstacles you had to overcome.
Problem Solving Skills
Strong Work Ethic
Motivation and Initiative