Research and Reflection
What you do to get ready for an interview is just as important, if not more, than what you do in the interview.
- How do your skills, interests, and values relate to this opportunity?
- How does it relate to your career goals?
- Keeping in mind the organization's mission and vision, ask yourself, "What can I contribute to this organization?"
Know the Organization
Research the organization. You should be familiar with their:
- Market landscape
- Related current events
- Media presence
Know the Kind of Interview
- Is the interview in person? Is it over the phone? Or perhaps it is an online video interview through Skype?
- If your interview is not in person, it is important to find a quiet space where you will not be interrupted by distractions, loud noises, or a loss of internet or cell phone service.
- Make sure you account for differences in time zone when planning for your interview schedule, if applicable.
Reflect on Past Experiences
- Many organizations use behavioral-based interviewing, which means they want to understand how you react in different situations. For example, “Can you please tell me about a time there was a conflict within a team you were a part of?”
- To prepare for these questions, review your prior experiences and think about the results of your actions.
Practice Responding to Questions
Take the time to practice interviewing. Think about your responses to common questions. Anticipate questions that may be asked based upon the position description.
Use the STAR Method
- The STAR interview technique offers a straightforward format to answer behavioral interview questions
- STAR stands for:
- Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
- Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
- Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
- Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.
Prepare for Difficult Questions
Be prepared to respond to difficult questions and explain the situation honestly and in a positive manner. Negative results are okay if they are explained as a learning experience.
- How will you explain or address a low grade point average?
- Why did you change your major three times?
Be Prepared to Ask Questions
The end of the interview is typically reserved for your questions. You should always prepare questions in advance.
Tips to prepare questions:
- Ask questions that help you decide if this opportunity is right for you.
- Ask specific questions about the organization rather than ones that could easily be found on the web.
- Ask specific questions about the job role to clarify the work you will be doing
- Ask questions about the companies goals and vision
What to Wear
Select clothes appropriate for the type of interview, industry, and organization. Make sure to convey professionalism at all times.
Suits - pants, skirt, or dress - that are nicely fitted and usually a darker color are always safe, unless you know that the industry has different expectations. As for accessories, a tie, jacket, or vest are all appropriate as well. Shirts or blouses can be a pop of color, but consider more conservative style choices; don't let your attire be a distraction from the interview.
If you are looking for gently-used work attire, we recommend visiting local thrift and second-hand stores in the Champaign-Urbana community. Here are some options you may consider (These organizations are not sponsored or endorsed by The Career Center.):
After the Interview
- It is important to follow-up by email with each individual involved in your interview within 48 hours to reinforce that you are interested in the position. Keep the message brief and bring up a specific topic or conversation you enjoyed in each note.
- Inquire about next steps in the process. For example, “when should I expect to hear back regarding the final decision on the position?”
- If you have not heard from the employer within the timeframe the employer indicated, be sure to follow up. Let the employer know you are still interested in the position and ask if there have been adjustments to the timeline.
- Be sure to communicate if you have a pending offer with a looming deadline with another employer. Transparency is important.
Tips for Non-Native Speakers
Multi-lingual skills are an advantage. Many employers operate internationally.
- Invest time and energy in practicing with native speakers to be more confident in your ability to speak slowly and clearly.
- Speak slower and louder than usual to make it easier for interviewers to understand you.
- Prepare direct and succinct answers rather than long ones.
- Ask for clarification.
- Seeking a clarification on a question is much better than providing an answer that does not match the question.
- Useful ways to ask for clarification are "Could you please clarify your question?" or "Could you please be more specific?", or "Could you please re-phrase the question?"
- If you have experience at a top company in another country, say so. "It is a Korean Google" would be an example. Many interviewers do not know about the size, scope, and impact of companies based outside of the U.S., so comparing them to a similar U.S.-based company is helpful.
Considerations for Health Professional School Interviews
Most health professional programs require an interview as part of the application process. The interview provides an opportunity for applicants to tour the school, meet current students, learn about the curriculum and financial aid options, and participate in a structured interview with one or more members of the admissions committee.
Most medical schools (and many dental, optometry, pharmacy and other health professional schools) begin interviewing as early as late August (nearly one year prior to matriculation).