Job Search: Interviews


To strengthen your interview skills and help build confidence, Post University Career Services provides you with: an online career tool to help you practice a variety of mock interviews, an interview guide; both located on the right side, and the following discussion about interviewing.


Access to Career Services’ ONLINE MOCK INTERVIEWS


Career Services offers access to online interview practice sessions to help you succeed at your job search.   With a little strategy and understanding, you will be having successful interviews, like a pro, in no time.

Before you begin using the online career tools, you will need to create an account with an access code.

Create Your Account

  1. To locate the access code, log onto Blackboard and go to the Student Services tab.  Scroll down and the code will be listed at the bottom of the Career Services announcement, on the right side.
  1. Once you have your access code, to create an account, go to the Post University Career Services’ online career tools, Optimal Résumé, at post.optimalrésumé.com, or click on Practice a Mock Interview, located in the black box on the upper right corner of this page. 

You will only be asked to create an account once and then you will have access to all the online career tools.

PRACTICE a Mock Interview 

To create a new Interview, log in to the Practice a Mock Interview, located in the black box on the upper right corner of this page, and follow these steps:

  1. Watch the 20 minute video tutorial to learn how to create online mock interviews.
  1. Select Create New Interview, name it and click Start Interview.
  1. Select the Interview Type, Length/Format, and Interviewer.  When you are done, click Continue Interview.

 

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Interview Hand Shake

Career Services’ Interview Guide

The Interview Guide, is a professional overview and supplement to the Post University Career Services’ Online Career Tools.  This guide presents the Five Steps to help you prepare for a successful interview:

  • Research
  • Analyze
  • Interview
  • What to Wear and Bring
  • Execute and Follow-Up

When you say you are hard-working, detailed orientated, or punctual, for example - what you think is hard-working, may not have the same meaning for the employer.  This is why having concrete examples of your experience, skills, and attitudes speak louder than just throwing out meaningless adjectives about yourself. 

Preparing in advance involves gathering the information you need to convince the employer that you have the skills, knowledge, and experience to perform the job, are motivated, enthusiastic about the company, and would fit well within the company culture.

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TYPES OF INTERVIEWS

There are a variety of interviews you can practice.  You can create and build your own interview with a variety of questions or you can choose and customize your questions based on your own needs.  An exciting feature of the online mock interview tool is that it provides you the opportunity to record and playback your responses with your computer’s webcam. 

For every question you answer, the online interview coach will be available to provide tips for answering that particular question.  Click play to hear the coach’s advice, or click stop to stop the video. 

In addition, sometimes interviewers may ask inappropriate questions.  The Virtual Coaching function will help you understand how to respond to these questions. However, understand that the interviewer may not realize that these questions are inappropriate or illegal.

Screening Interview

Also called an informational interview and is usually conducted over the phone by a gatekeeper such as a human resources person or recruiter. They are trying to judge whether you are a viable candidate for the position.

Behavioral or Situational Interview

Used to determine how you might perform by looking at past experiences and behavior. The best approach is to be concise and give answers using real-world examples.

Hiring Manager Interview

This is usually a second or third interview and addresses how well you match the job requirements and company culture. Questions could target past achievements, skills, strengths, and aspirations. You will be measured against other candidates and the focus may be on your areas of weakness.

Initial Face-to-Face Interview

This interview focuses on goals, achievements, skills, weaknesses, strengths, and how well you fit within the team. Good communication and interpersonal skills is critical.

Panel Interview

This type of interview can be especially difficult because you have a variety of personalities and types of questions being thrown at you. Calmness and giving specific answers is important.

Pressure Interview

This is used to assess your reactions under pressure using rapid-fire difficult questioning. The interviewer is trying to identify how well you think on your feet and how well you could survive in a critical situation.

Final Interview

This is the last reality-check.  Questions are repeated and areas of concern are re-visited. It may involve questions regarding salary and benefits. Display your interest in the job and company, and ask relevant questions.


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Behavioral Interviews

In today’s job market, employers ask questions that are geared towards gaining insight on how you behave.  They believe past performance is the best indicator of future performance.  These are called behavioral interviews or situation interviews.  During the interview, you could be asked to provide specific examples that highlight skills necessary for the job.  

When answering, leave out any negative information.  In order to shine and stay on track, we recommend that you use the "STAR" method when answering: ST for situation/task, A for action, and R for result.  Have three to five positive work related stories you can talk about.  Be short and concise, without rambling.  Know what you want to say and where your message is going. 

EXAMPLE:

Question: Have you ever lead a team before?

Situation/Task: Yes; a relevant example being at my last company, where I was initially a software developer, on a team of six.  We developed a new finance module for our core accounting product.  The project was critical as launch dates had been set with a lot of sales and marketing investment riding on the product being ready.  However the project was behind schedule, when our team leader unfortunately became ill, and had to leave."

Action: "I was the captain of my college’s baseball team and I loved the challenge and responsibility of leadership, so I volunteered to fill in.  By using my technical analysis skills, I spotted a few small mistakes that were causing sporadic errors and slowing us down.  Therefore, I negotiated with our product director, and got a small bonus incentive for the team – approval for two pizza evenings.  With that, we could pull a couple of late night shifts to correct the coding and catch up with the critical project landmarks."

Result: "Though this took us 1.5% over budget, the software was delivered on time with a better than target fault tolerance. The project was seen as a great success as the additional project cost was minimal compared to the costs of delaying the launch, and the negative affect on our product branding. The team members were delighted with the extra bonus and as a result, I was officially promoted to team leader."

Interview Tips

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BEST PRACTICES FOR INTERVIEWING

Interview Tips

It is no surprise that employers seek people who are focused and mature, understand the requirements of the job for which they are interviewing, and can communicate how their skills can be used to meet those requirements.  They want to hire people who are cooperative, organized, and are hard-working. 

Listed below are some suggestions to help you build your interviewing skills and things to help you think a little more like the interviewer. Consider these five things to align your interview skills with an employer's mindset:

Interview Tips

  1. Purpose, Prepare, Practice
    • Purpose: Why do you want this job?
    • Prepare: Read the company’s website and know the job description. Try role-playing with a friend before your interview
    • Practice: Keep a journal of questions you might be asked and have answers formulated and get comfortable talking about what you have to offer
  2. Be Positive and Optimistic
    • Enthusiasm and confidence is infectious – be cheerful, energetic and have a good attitude
    • Highlight your accomplishments and don’t be afraid to sell yourself
  3. Listen, Think, Speak
    • Listen and understand what the interviewer has to say, and think before responding
    • It is ok to ask the interviewer to repeat or rephrase the question
    • Be concise and give answers that are clear and direct
  4. Prepare Your Own Questions
    • Never say you have no questions
    • Well-thought-out questions show you're really interested in the company and the job
  5. Say Thank You
    • Always thank everyone you interviewed with
      • Time is of the essence; send a thank you within 24 hours
      • Highlight your key selling points
      • Keep it short and concise and proofread before sending

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