Interviewing 101

Watch students as they interview for jobs -- Learn from their mistakes

Videos on how to respond to common interview questions:

#1 "Tell me about yourself...." "What is your greatest strength?" "What is your greatest weakness?"

#2 "What do you think you will be doing in five years?" "What makes you an ideal candidate?"

Video on how to respond to negatively phrased questions:

#3 "Describe a time when you missed a deadline."  "Describe a reallly bad decision that you've made."

Video on questions you should ask during an interview:

#4 "What are some of the challenges facing this position?" "How would you describe the company culture?"

Practice answering interview questions by doing a mock interview online.  You can do this using your own computer from your dorm room or apartment. Simply login using your OC email address. Click here to begin 

The 3 R's of Interviewing.

There are three basic steps to prepare you for an upcoming interview.

  • Research: Gather information about the position, organization and the field through print and on-line resources and informational interviews. Read information from web sites, job descriptions, annual reports, trade journals, newspapers, magazines, etc.  
  • Review & Relate: Review your experiences and skills, and draw connections between your background and the position's responsibilities and qualifications. Identify specific examples that highlight your relevant skills.
  • Rehearse: Anticipate the kinds of questions you may be asked, try your responses out with a friend, or schedule a practice interview at Career Services. Craft your own list of questions about the position and organization to ask the interviewer. The goal is not to memorize answers (which would sound rehearsed), but to gain confidence in discussing your strengths and experience in an interview situation.

Knowing What to Expect in an Interview

An employer will be using the interview to gather these three things:

  1. Do you have the academic background, technical qualifications and skills to do the job?
  2. Do you have the personal characteristics and competencies necessary for effective performance?
  3. Are you a good fit with the organization?

In most cases, an interviewer has already decided from your resume that you meet the first criteria, though he/she may have additional questions about your background, on which you'll be asked to expand. The answers to questions two and three can usually be gained only through an interview.

Be prepared with examples of personal characteristics to illustrate your leadership, dedication, teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills.

Be prepared to present your credentials:

  • Key responses are crisp and concise.
  •  Ask for clarification if you do not understand a question. Do not guess.
  • Build on areas of interest as indicated by the interviewer's reactions.
  • Be prepared to illustrate your answers with examples.
  • Avoid being negative. Show the positive side of all situations.
  • Know your accomplishments and what you have to offer!
  • Tailor your presentation to your audience. Know what specific points will sell for the position, and have specific points to reinforce that you are right for the position.
  • Link your accomplishments to the job at hand.
  • When answering a question or giving information, always back up a statement with a concrete example.

Interview Protocol:

Some of the following seem to be common sense but often, in times of nervousness or stress, are easily forgotten:

  • Appear alert, show enthusiasm and energy.
  • Smile, maintain eye contact and give a firm handshake.
  • Take time answering. Momentary pauses to collect your thoughts are O.K.
  • If at all possible, do not write anything down until after the interview is over.
  • Be prepared to ask pertinent questions to the interviewer.
  • Do not ask about salary.
  • At the conclusion of the interview, ask for a business card and what the next steps & time frame are.
  • Write a thank you note within 24 - 48 hours.

Interview Questions to Prepare for:

In one way or another, you will be asked 3 basic questions in any interview:

  1. Why are you interested in this field?
  2. Why are you interested in this position and organization?
  3. What relevant skills and experience do you have that will make you successful?**

**Review these questions to assess how prepared you are to discuss your interests and skills. Do you feel your answers will be convincing to an interviewer?

Personal Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • Why should we hire you?

Education Questions

  • Why did you choose to study at OC?
  • Why did you choose your concentration?
  • What courses did you enjoy most/least?
  • Describe a major paper or project you completed.
  • What is your G.P.A.?

Knowledge of the Organization Questions

  • What do you know about our organization? Why do you want to work for us?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in an organization like ours?
  • In what type of work environment are you most comfortable?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization?

Experience Questions

  • How does your OC education or work experience relate to this job?
  • Give me an example of your __________ skills (e.g. writing).
  • What did you learn from your participation in extracurricular activities?
  • What has been your experience working in a team?
  • What is the best job you ever had? Why?

Career Goal Questions

  • What are your future career goals? What do you see yourself doing in 5 years, 10 years?
  • Do you plan to go on to graduate school?
  • Where else are you looking?
  • What questions do you have?

Introductory Question: Tell me about yourself

“Tell me about yourself” is commonly used in interviews as an icebreaker and as a way for the interviewer to get to know the job candidate. What are employers looking for in your answer? This and other open-ended questions are asked to see how well you can focus your thoughts. Responses to this question should be geared to show understanding of your skills and interests, and how these and your past experiences would contribute to the position and organization.

Use a 90-second (4part) guideline when answering this question.

  1. Focus the first 15 seconds on any personal information you wish to share (e.g. where you are from)
  2. Focus the next 30 seconds on your academic experience (e.g. what you are studying, major research projects, study abroad experience);
  3. Focus the next 30 seconds on your experience (e.g., leadership activities, internships, volunteer work);
  4. Focus the last 15 seconds to discuss why you are interested in the position (given the background you just discussed).

Remember, this is a brief answer; give highlights of your experiences and focus your answer. This is not the time to elaborate. Spend some time writing down experiences you wish to discuss and practice your answer.

 Based on research, here are the top questions to study for an interview

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you apply for this job? What can you add to this company?
  • What special qualifications make you the ideal candidate?
  • Describe your greatest accomplishments in college.
  • Why do you want to work for us? What do you know about this company?
  • What activities have you been actively involved in during college?
  • Describe leadership roles you have held.
  • How did you decide to attend Oklahoma Christian University?
  • What did you contribute in your last job or internship?
  • Do you have plans for further education? an advanced degree?
  • What goals have you set for yourself?
  • What do you consider your greatest strengths?
  • Describe what you are doing to improve one of your weaknesses.
  • Was there ever a time when you had to circumvent standard procedures?
  • What resources do you use to keep current on the trends in your field?
  • Describe a time when you disagreed with a supervisor's decision.
  • What do you think your responsibilities would be in this job?
  • What is the biggest mistake you ever made? What did you learn from it?
  • Does your GPA reflect your ability?
  • What are you looking for in a manager?
  • What criteria are you using to evaluate your potential employers?
  • What other employers are you interviewing with?
  • What salary are you expecting now? three years from now?
  • Is there anything else I should know about you?
  • Why should I hire you? 

Here is a list of sample behavioral-based interview questions:

  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone's opinion.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  • Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you've made in the last year.
  • Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
  • Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  • Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  • Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
  • Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  • Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  • Please tell me about a time you had to fire a friend.
  • Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).

 

Contact the Career Services Office for sample employment interview questions by industry or major as well as sample interview questions for specific medical and professional schools - careerservices@oc.edu 

Practice Interviewing using your iPhone or iTouch and the Audio Job Interview app

Audio Job Interview Pro iPhone App from Bradford Peterson on Vimeo.