Ask anyone and they will say that interviewing triggers more job search anxiety than any other phase in the process. If you are trying to find a job or internship, job interviews are a big hurdle. To help cross this hurdle, we share information on interviewing here and in our blog. One purpose of the information is to help with interview preparation. Everyone will agree that preparation will improve one’s comfort with the interviewing process.
Anyone needing one-on-one help with interviewing is encouraged to contact the career center on campus or ask us about Interview Like a PRO coaching from The HBCU Career Center.
If you are looking for jobs or internships you know that the interview is an opportunity for the company to learn about you. But keep in mind that the interview is also for you to learn about the company. Job interviews are opportunities for an EXCHANGE of information where both you and the company find answers. The interviewing process allows both the interviewer and the job seeker to get the information they need to make good decisions.
What are the interviewing questions about?
Most interviewing questions come from the interviewer’s concern with three big issues. First, Why do you want to work, intern or volunteer with that specific company? These questions will seek to verify your motivation and interest in the company. Second, What can you do for the organization? These questions will seek to understand whether or not you have the skills and abilities to excel at the role. Third, Who are you? These questions will seek to understand whether or not you will be a good hire for the organization.
What is the interviewer trying to accomplish?
During the interview, the interviewer will be trying to accomplish three things as well. The first thing they want to learn is more about your background including education, experience, interests and goals. These goals do not need to be really long term. Secondly, although you might not think so, the interviewer wants to give you a deeper understanding of the organization. The third thing the interviewer wants to determine, is if you and the organization or the specific position are a good match.
What are you trying to accomplish with interviewing?
- Share information about yourself
- Learn inside information about the organization
- Determine if the organization is a good match for you
Why does interviewing cause so much anxiety?
Thinking you must be “better than” the other job candidates causes a lot of stress and anxiety. Feeling that your performance in the interviewing process will determine if you get selected by the organization adds to that stress. Just know that being nervous is normal. However, the more prepared you are, the less nervous you will be during the interviewing process. For students or experienced professionals preparing should really be just like studying for an exam or a professional certification.
Before the Interview: RESEARCH YOURSELF
Employers want to know about YOU. So, refresh your memory all you can about your education, your jobs, your internships, your beliefs, your interests, your goals, your strengths/weaknesses, your skills and abilities, in short—your SELF…this is what is meant by researching yourself.
Spend some time identifying your Values, Skills, Interests and Abilities (V.I.S.A.). Assess yourself in terms of your creativity, leadership qualities, communication skills, interpersonal skills, technical skills, etc. Analyze your work values, attitudes and expectations. Take a hard look at your educational experiences…what did they teach you about your field and about yourself?
Before the Interview: RESEARCH THEM
This means knowing something about the company and the position before the interview. Interviewers will sometimes start with a question to find out what you know about the company. Be prepared to answer questions about what they do the size of the company, the company philosophy or mission, the company’s major clients, training programs or career development within the organization. Doing your homework will make you feel more comfortable.
Typical questions they will ask
- Tell me about yourself?
- Tell us why you decided to seek a job with this organization?
- Why did you choose us over the competition?
- What do you know about our products and service?
- Why or how did you decide on a major?
- Why did you choose your school or your major?
- What work-related shills have you developed?
- What motivates you the most/least?
- Were you involved with campus projects or leadership programs?
- What does your GPA say about you?
- Give an example of a creative solution you had for a problem?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
- Are you willing to travel or to relocate?
- What are your short term and long term career goals?
Typical questions you can ask
- Can you tell me more about your training program?
- Tell me the qualities you are seeking in a candidate?
- What do you like most about working here?
- Is there training required and provided in this position?
- Who will I be reporting to?
- How do you measure success in this organization?
- When will you be making a decision?
- What is the next step in the process?
- When may I contact you?
Things they should not be asking you about
- Are you married or have a family?
- What race or national origin are you?
- What is your religion?
- Have you ever been arrested?
- What type of military discharge did you receive?
- How old are you?
What you should not be asking
- How does your company make money or what does your company do?
- What can this company do for me?
- Can you tell me the benefits that you offer?
- How much vacation will I get?
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Job seekers hear it all the time, but it bears repeating – first impressions count! This simply means that you have to dress for success.
Have you heard the expression: “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, employers, interviewers, recruiters and hiring managers judge people everyday based on first impression. In a professional setting, how you dress is part of that first impress. So whether you are going to a job interview, career fair, or other networking event, place some emphasis on making a great first impression. Plan to dress for success!
Our philosophy at The HBCU Career Center is that researching the company and knowing the industry’s acceptable dress standards is important to deciding how you will dress for interviewing. As a general rule, more conservative attire will go over better than more flashy attire.
What your attire might be saying about you?
- You take the job search process seriously.
- Your research is on point and know what the company’s expectations are for workplace attire.
- That you could be a good fit for the culture of the company.
- The attire you choose could communicate how serious your interest is in the company.
Tips For Interviewing Attire
- Although we shouldn’t have to say it; please shower and be clean for your job interview..
- Travelling to your job interview? Think about what your clothes will look like on arrival.
- Clothes should be crisp, pressed and ironed, and freshly cleaned.
- Invest in a lint roller brush.
- Focus on quality attire when you dress for success.
- Do thrift store shopping to find classic pieces at lower costs.
- Invest in dry cleaning services to prepare your clothes for interviews.
- Use college resources to pull together a business professional wardrobe.
- Do layaway or ask for retail gift cards as gifts if you know you will need interview items.
- Interview attire is not just about the suit, think about accessories like shoes, purses, jewelry and professional portfolios.
New information on interviews
The rules area changing about what is expected for interviewing in terms of attire. For instance years ago, the rule was that visible tattoos were not appropriate for job interviews. That’s just one practice that has changed. There are others. Here are some resources to stay current.
- You Don’t have to Hide your Tattoos to Get the Job via CollegeRecruiter.com
- New Rules on Dressing for the Interview via Oprah.com
- Workplace Dress Codes and Transgender Employees via Human Rights Campaign
- Gender Neutral Interviewing and Business Clothing via The Balance
- How to Dress for an Interview as a Butch Dyke via The Professor is In
- Interview Attire for Disadvantaged Job Seekers via The Balance
- Dressing for Interviews via Michigan State University
- 18 Best Professional Attire Images for Transgender Professionals via Pinterest
- Dress for Success via North Carolina A & T State University