During the Interview

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In general

You will be sized up within the first 30 seconds, so make a positive first impression! Some keys to success:

  • Walk and speak confidently.
  • Smile when meeting someone new.
  • Be courteous to the administrative assistant.
  • Shake hands firmly, with eye contact, but avoid crushing bones.
  • Keep your briefcase, notepad, and coat in the left hand to keep your right hand free for shaking.
  • Remember and pronounce the interviewer's name correctly.
  • Make easy small talk when appropriate it's okay to be relaxed!

Throughout the interview, you want to convey sincerity, dedication to achievement, confidence, integrity, and a high energy level. According to the University of Richmond Management Institute (1997), we convey 55% of our messages through body language, 38% through our voice tone, and only 7% through our words. Keep the following non-verbal signals in mind:

  • Eye contact
    • open and direct. Eye contact often breaks during periods of thought? this is okay!
  • Posture
    • forward facing and open. Leaning forward slightly communicates interest.
  • Nervous habits
    • be aware of yours and control them.
  • Voice tone
    • warm, well-modulated, confident, and relaxed. 

Questions employers often ask

About yourself:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Name 3 strengths and weaknesses.
  • What can you do that someone else can't?
  • What qualifications do you have that indicate you will be successful in your field? How would they relate to this position? What do you have to offer?
  • What new skills or capabilities have you developed over the past year?
  • What have you done which shows initiative and willingness to work?
  • What are your greatest work and non-work related accomplishments during the past two years?
  • Describe three things that are most important to you in a job?
  • What motivates you?
  • What have you been doing since your graduation from college? Since you left your last job?
  • How would a co-worker, friend, or boss describe you?
  • What are your interests outside work or school?
  • What qualities do you admire most in others?
  • How would you describe your own work style? 

About your career goals:

  • What do you see yourself doing 1, 3, 5, and 10 years from now?
  • What type of position are you interested in?
  • What are your salary requirements, short and long term?
  • What is success? Which personal characteristics will contribute to your success?
  • How will employment with us contribute to your career plans?
  • What do you expect from a job?
  • What are your career objectives ? short and long range?
  • This job is a total change from previous employment. How does it fit your career goals?
  • What are your location preferences?

About education

  • How does your education prepare you for this position?
  • What activities did you engage in at school?
  • Which classes did you like most and least at school? Why?
  • Why did you decide to choose Stetson?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • Describe your academic strengths and weaknesses.
  • What are your plans for continuing your education?
  • What have you read recently in your field?

About previous experience:

  • What have you learned from past jobs?
  • How often, and in what way, did you communicate with your subordinates and superiors?
  • What were the biggest pressures of your last job?
  • How did your job description for your last job change while you held it?
  • What specific skills acquired or used in previous jobs relate to this position?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What did you like most and least about your last job?
  • Whom may we contact for references?

About the company or specific position:

  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about this organization?
  • What salary do you expect?
  • Why do you think you would like this position and company?
  • What kind of boss do you like to work for?
  • How long do you intend to stay here?
  • What do you think determines a person's progress in an organization?
  • What interests you about our product or service? How would you improve it?
  • What do you think would be your greatest contribution to our operation?
  • How do you solve problems?
  • When can you start to work?
  • Can you travel overnight?

Behavioral questions:

  • What is one of the toughest problems you have ever had to solve? Why was it difficult? How did you solve it?
  • What science or advanced math courses have you taken? Describe some basic principles.
  • How would you figure out how many ATM machines there are in the US?
  • What criteria would you use to determine the top ten priority accounts for a new sales territory?
  • Give an example of a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done.
  • How would you motivate an employee who was performing poorly?
  • What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
  • Give an example of a situation in which you didn't back down in the face of adversity.
  • Tell me about an unpopular decision you have made. How long did it take to make the decision? Why did the situation arise? How do you think you handled it?
  • When have you felt overwhelmed? Tell me about it.
  • What would you do if your co-workers complained to you about the company?
  • Let's say your manager gave you 10 things to do by 5pm and you realized you couldn't finish them all. How would you prioritize them?
  • Tell me about a time when you "bent" the rules. When is it okay to do so?

Answering Interview Questions

1. Use the STAR technique

The STAR technique is a way to frame answers concisely and completely. STAR stands for:


  • discuss a situation or problem you encountered


  • share the task which the situation required or the ideas for resolving your problem


  • tell about the actions you took or obstacles you overcame


  • reveal outcomes, goals achieved, and lessons learned

For example: Tell me about a time when you feel you gave exceptional customer service.

Situation: When I was working for a catering hall, I was responsible for booking reception rooms for special events. Two weeks before her son's wedding, a mother called to cancel her reservation. The wedding was postponed due to a death in the family.

Task: This customer was obviously upset about these sad circumstances, and I wanted to do as much as I could do ease her mind about the reception arrangements.

Action: I knew it wasn't too late to book another event for that room, so I checked with the manager regarding the possibility of refunding her deposit. We were able to return her full deposit, and I assured her that we could book another room for her when the family was ready to make plans.

Result: The woman wasn't expecting to receive money back and was pleasantly surprised that canceling the room wasn't impossible. My manager complimented me for taking the initiative with this customer.

2. And THAT's why you should hire me

Behind every question the interviewer asks, he/she is really asking: Why should I hire you? Answer every question as though you could finish your statement with the sentence, "And that's why you should hire me."

3. Questions you may want to ask

Just as the interviewer is wondering why he/she should hire you, you should be wondering why you should work for them! Most interviews will conclude (or even begin!) with a chance for you to ask questions of the interviewer. Always prepare questions ahead of time. Your research should provide a foundation for some of them? your goal is to find out as much information you can about the position and company to make an informed decision about IF you would want to work with them.

Some sample questions:

  • How would you describe a typical day in this position?
  • How much travel is to be expected?
  • How frequently do you relocate professional employees? What is your relocation procedure?
  • Why are you looking to fill this job? (Is it a newly created position? Did the previous employee leave? Why?)
  • How many people have had this position and where have they gone?
  • What is the average stay in this position?
  • Outside my department, who else will I work with?
  • How much evening or weekend work is expected?
  • How high a priority is this department within the organization?
  • What are the prospects for advancement beyond this level?
  • How does one advance in this organization?
  • How often are performance reviews given?
  • How often do the training programs begin? What do they consist of?
  • How many people go through your training program each year?
  • What new product lines/services have been announced recently?
  • What is the average age of top management?
  • Will you describe the company's philosophy to me?
  • How many people are you interviewing for this position?
  • What are the things you like most/least about working here?
  • Why did you sign on and why do you stay?
  • If I am offered employment here, when would you like me to start?
  • What else can I tell you about my qualifications?
  • May I have a business card?
  • What is the next step of the hiring process?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?The last two questions are crucial. Be sure you know with whom you spoke and what's coming next!

A Word About Salary

Never bring up salary or benefits before the interviewer does. Doing so makes a candidate appear primarily interested in monetary rewards. Allowing the employer to mention salary first gives you more bargaining power in the end.

Types of interviews

  1. Screening.
    • On-campus interviews are usually screening interviews. Usually they are brief, and are conducted by a well-trained interviewer. The purpose is to weed out candidates who may not be qualified.
  2. On-Site.
    • You will meet with various people within the organization at different times throughout the day who will have input into the hiring decision. It often involves a full day or longer, and an opportunity to see the physical plant. Many questions will be the same. Be patient when answering them ? this is the first time each person hears your answer!
  3. One-on-one.
    • Usually these interviews are with your potential supervisor and will be the person ultimately making the hiring decision.
  4. Panel.
    • You can get a good idea of how the staff works together in these interviews. Be sure to bring a copy of your resume for each person on the panel! Questions may be more rapidly paced. You should maintain eye contact and involve everyone, not just the person asking the question.
  5. Telephone.
    • Often, these are used as screening interviews. Be sure your answering machine and others in your household answer the phone in a professional manner during your job search?just in case an interviewer calls spontaneously! Being concise is critical, since body language is not an element. Talk slowly enough for the interviewer to take notes. Be aware that you may be on speakerphone. Create an environment with no noise or distractions. Smile into the phone and stand up while talking ? these things will convey authority and friendliness.
  6. Skype.
    • These are also used as screening interviews. Be sure your internet connection is operating properly and you have created an environment with no noise or distractions. Make sure the room/space behind you is free of obscure objects, harsh lighting, and loud sounds. Turn your phone to silent, not off; if your video connection is lost the interviewer may need to call you. Move slowly and speak clearly during the session. Look into the video camera, not the screen at the interviewer. Be aware that you may be on speakerphone and that there may multiple individuals in the room with the interviewer.
  7. Behavioral.
    • Instead of asking how you would behave in a situation, the interviewer asks how you did behave. Questions will be probing and will ask for lots of detail. Interviewers may take copious notes. An example: "Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership. What did you do? What did you say? What were you thinking? How did you feel? What was your role? What was the result?" To prepare, identify a story to demonstrate each of the 12 points on page 2, and use the STAR technique to relay it.
  8. Case Study.
    • Many consulting firms use case-study interviews to find out how candidates think through problems. More important than the answer is the method used to arrive there. For example: (taken from National Business Employment Weekly, February 22-28, 1999): "Our client makes ring laser gyro-based inertial measurement units for aircraft. It's been losing share recently and management wants to figure out why. What do you think?" It is not expected that you understand the question. The goal is not to arrive at the right answer, but to ask the right questions. Start by asking, "Who are the clients competitors and which ones are gaining market share? Is the client losing all customers or just one segment? Are customers choosing other gyros because they cost less or because they work better?" Above all, stay calm and think logically. For more information about this type of interview, see a staff member in Career Services.