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Exam Information & Assistance
Elementary & Secondary Education
Interview & Résumé Preparation
Before the Interview
- Know yourself and your goals. Prepare to communicate your skills, talents, interests, and achievements as well as how your skill-set meets the employer’s needs (job requirements). The interviewer will be assessing not only the content of what you say, but how you communicate the information.
- Know the employer. Research the culture, financial stability, product/service, size and reputation of the company before the interview. Informational interviews with a trusted colleague employed in this company or industry can provide valuable information. Good research will help you to communicate how you are a good fit for the position.
- Expect tough questions from your interviewers. Prepare and rehearse your answers. You can easily find good interview questions online. Do not try to memorize the answers. Just rehearse answering potential questions from interviewers. Mock interviews can be very helpful in this preparation. Additionally, interviewers will assess your ability to handle the stress of the job interview in order to determine your ability to handle stress on the job.
- Dress appropriately for the interview. First impressions affect your chances of communicating effectively. A well-groomed, conservative appearance, consistent with the work environment, demonstrates your compatibility with the company. Work interviews require more formal attire than is usually worn on a daily basis in the workplace. Business attire is expected in the interview, even when business casual is the common dress code for every day.
- Arrive early for the interview. You will demonstrate your interest and professionalism. Greet your interviewer with good eye contact, smile and a firm, warm handshake saying, “It’s nice to meet you.”
During the Interview
- Be genuine. Be your best, professional self. You want to ensure a good fit for you and the employer.
- Be positive, even about seemingly insignificant items. If something negative comes up, be factual and do not offer excuses. You might even mention something positive that you learned from the experience. This demonstrates maturity and a teachable attitude.
- Listen well. Your ability to answer the interviewer’s questions effectively depends on your ability to hear the question. You must be prepared to answer any issues raised in your interview.
- Speak clearly and make good eye contact with all your interviewers. The interviewer will assess your composure, confidence, and body language. Monitor your energy level. It speaks volumes about you. If you have low energy in the interview, interviewers may question your interest and ability to produce. If your energy in the interview is too high, interviewers may have concerns about your interpersonal effectiveness. Congruency in all these areas strengthens your oral communication.
- Clearly describe how your skills, abilities and interests fit with the job requirements of the employer. Spell this out for the employer with specific illustrations from past work accomplishments. A little enthusiasm can be productive when describing past successes. It demonstrates your enjoyment of the work.
- Ask good questions of the interviewer. You can research Internet listings, starting with the website of the organization by which you are being interviewed. Your questions demonstrate your interest, skill, and enthusiasm for the job. Allow the interviewer to initiate any discussion about salary and benefits.
- Remember proper etiquette in the interview. Interviewers will assess your professional presentation in all aspects. Employers want to be sure that you will present a professional image for their company. They also want to be sure that you will fit into the company culture.
After the Interview
Follow up with a thank you note to each person who interviewed you. This is a professional rule of conduct for all interviews. Handwritten notes are best. Use the thank you note to describe why you think you would be a good fit for the job, mentioning a related question or comment of the interviewer. This also demonstrates your continued interest and enthusiasm for the job.
Employers want greater understanding of education, experience, and accomplishments listed on the résumé. They also want to know your expectations of the employer and career goals.
Employers want to know specific examples of how you overcame obstacles and achieved successes in situations similar to the job for which you are interviewing.
Employers may test the skills you claim on your résumé to ascertain your level of proficiency. They want to know if you can comprehend a complex set of facts, create a framework to analyze them, and develop a logical and useful conclusion.
Employers may want to test maturity, self-marketing abilities, leadership, and team orientation. This type of interview may be used in an online screening interview or an on-site interview. It may require interactive exercises, presentations, meal, or reception.
- Not researching the company: Check the company website, check Google for recent news developments related
to the company or industry, and check other online resources such as:
- Not having clear goals: Know your short-term and a long-term career goals. Focus on the short-term goal related to the specific job for which you are interviewing. However, be prepared to articulate how your long-term goal relates to your short-term goal.
- Not having business/industry-related answers: When an interviewer asks you to give an example of a relevant skill for the job, do not use an illustration from a social setting, classroom assignment, or sports; unless, you can effectively explain how that skill transfers into the business setting. This is difficult to accomplish. Therefore, it is best to use only examples from previous work settings, internships, or volunteer work.
- Employers are viewing you from a different perspective. They want to know how potential clients, coworkers, and supervisors will perceive your ability and professional conduct.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to clarify a comment or question in the interview. You have to understand what the interviewer is saying in order to respond intelligently.
- Take paper and pen for note taking. You can purchase an inexpensive portfolio to keep the pen and paper folded away until needed.
- Take a list of prepared questions for the interviewer. You can also take notes during the interview for additional follow up questions.
- Take a moment to think about your answers as needed. Interviewers appreciate a well-considered answer versus a rushed response that might be less effective.
- Provide appropriate detail in your answers. The STAR method is helpful: (Situation, Task, Action, and Result). Don’t give too much detail.
- Look over sample interview questions in advance and practice your answers with a friend or career coach. It might be helpful to practice aloud in front of your mirror at home. Here’s an interview question simulator with which you can rehearse.
- Always be professional. Even when you know your interviewer through other settings, it is best to be professional in the interview. This includes writing thank you notes for each interviewer you meet.
- Avoid passive, negative statements or tone. Avoid obscure terminology and slang.
- Include a cover letter, which briefly explains any gaps in employment or additional relevant information not included on the résumé. Use keywords in the cover letter to improve interview selection odds.
- Consider whether your résumé should be chronological or functional. More information about chronological or functional résumés can be found in the résumé builder feature on your home page of College Central Network.
- It is helpful to utilize an online resume builder from an online source, such as College Central Network. However, résumé templates and PDF files can hide résumé keywords from employer screening software. Therefore, it is best to print résumés constructed with online templates but to save a copy of your document.
- Résumé length should be an appropriate length to match the amount of work experience. One page résumés are usually appropriate for traditional students, who may not have many years of work experience. Non-traditional students with many years of work, require a longer résumé.
LinkedIn Profile Development