Career Columns: Interviewing Strategies

Written by Esther Fevrier, Millicent Gordon, Eirene Wang

You’ve just successfully revised your resume and uploaded it onto Quest. The worst part is over — for now, anyway. A couple weeks later, you hear back from the employer: they want an interview! You feel happy and excited, though you are also nervous and a bit intimidated. Don’t worry. Your friendly PCAs are here to go over a few tips we hope you’ll find useful to nail that interview and get the position.

1. Prepare for your interview by researching the company, industry, and interviewers/employees. Although this is typically done before applying, it never hurts to become better versed. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the company’s website and the job description, your research should thoroughly investigate the company’s industry and its role within that industry. Do background research on the company’s history and mission statement. Has the company been in the news lately? What is currently going on in the industry? As you research, ask yourself how you see yourself contributing to this company’s mission and prepare answers for such a question during your interview. Write down any questions you have as you research. These will be useful during your interview. Use resources like LinkedIn and the Alumni Directory/Career Network to find people in your network who can give you further insight.

2. Be conscious of how anxiety may affect your body language and confidence. Practice interview-style speaking by holding mock interviews with your friends, our awesome career counselors or recording yourself on your webcam so that you may become aware of what you need to work on, such as excessive hand gesturing, lack of eye contact or fidgeting. Think your involuntary knee shaking may cause you to suddenly break into a dance? Try redirecting that energy by pressing your spine firmly against your seat, crossing your legs and folding your hands over your knees. Feel uncomfortable locking eyes with your interviewer? Find an object directly past his or her head to look at, or try shifting your attention to the nose from time to time. Also remember to keep your speaking at a good pace; this can minimize rambling or stuttering.

3. Find a balance between talking too much and too little. If the employer poses a curveball question, it’s okay to politely reply, “I’m going to have to give some more thought to that question. Would you mind if I took a moment?” Keep in mind that your response should be concise and pertinent to the question at hand. To avoid immediately diving into a response or rambling, give yourself extra time to think about how to approach that question. One way to gauge how you are doing during your interview is to look for cues from the interviewer. Is the interviewer consistently asking you specifically targeted follow-up questions to your answers? This may indicate that you are not giving enough detail or using answers specific to your experiences. If the interviewer seems to be cutting you off, it’s time to be more concise.

4. Prepare questions beforehand. You may have already compiled a list of questions that guided your initial research on the company. Did anything tug at your curiosity? Make sure the answers to your questions aren’t easily tracked on the company’s website or Google. Asking thoughtful questions not only shows that you did your research, but it shows your interviewer that you are a committed and genuinely interested candidate.

5. Follow up on your interview, no matter how the interview itself went. Send a thank you note to the interviewer(s) to thank them for their time and reaffirm your interest in the position and in the company in one or two sentences.
Good luck with all your applications and interviews!