Great Interviews Lead to Job Offers
Updated: Nov 29, 2018
Have you prepared and practiced for digital and in-person interviews?
Interviews are an important and expected part of almost every job or internship application process. And it's not always easy to be able to sell yourself and your skills to strangers. Here are a few ways you can be interview ready and build confidence in your stories and responses.
Set the tone with a strong response to the first question:
Tell me about yourself.
This question is extremely common for an opening question. Take 60-90 seconds to give an overview of who you are and key educational details or experiences from your resume. You shouldn’t spend a lengthy amount of time on any one area but instead briefly mention all the key details you want them to know. Remember, they already have your resume and screened it before offering you the interview, so don’t repeat what is written there but instead give them new information and the important details you want to highlight. This is also the perfect time to make sure you point out anything from your resume that you want them to know.
No: I am a Junior studying biology at Lehigh University.
Yes: I choose to study biology because……
Yes: One of the advantages to my biology background is….
Yes: One of the most valuable biology courses I have taken was….
No: I recently completed an internship in marketing.
Yes: My marketing internship taught we several great skills in…..
Yes: I learned x, y, z as a marketing intern last summer which prepared me for…..
Yes: As a marketing intern I gained experience with…..
Example content to include in your response:
Where you are from – hometown or background info
Why you are interested in your academic major/favorite part of your academics
A key class or academic project
A recent experience that helped you use/learn a skill that would transfer well to this job
Overview of internship/research/study abroad/summer job experiences
A skill or experience that best relates to the position you are applying to
Highlights from a campus club or organization you are involved with
An example of your success from a volunteer experience
Your use of a technical program, software or tool
Why you are interested in the position or company
Be a storyteller by answering Behavioral Based Questions
Tell me about a time when ….
Give me an example of…
Describe a situation where…
Have you ever….
Use the STAR method to help outline your response
Situation + Task Required + Your Actions Taken = Result
Answer these questions by telling a story from your personal, academic or work experience. Follow the STAR method in order to stay on track but also include enough detail to stay unique and memorable. Before the interview look over your resume and LinkedIn profile to pull from your academic, work, volunteer, campus and other experiences so you have a good variety of stories fresh in your mind. This is one of the best ways to be a memorable interviewer because your stories will be unique and help the interviewer truly get to know you. Too often I see students try to give “right” answers, which end up being incredibly common and canned responses. You are a stronger interviewee when you help the interviewers get to know your personality, decision making process and concrete examples that demonstrate your skills. Practice your delivery but don’t memorize the dialog so you can be flexible with delivery.
Behavior Based question examples:
Tell me about a time you worked with a team.
Give me an example of a time you had to solve a problem.
What experience do you have with communication?
Tell me about a time you failed or did not meet expectations.
Give me an example of a time you worked through a difficult situation.
Tell me about a time you had a leadership role.
What was your biggest accomplishment or success?
What was your favorite/most challenging class?
Tell me how you built a skill you listed on your resume.
Give me an example of a project/task you completed independently.
Tell me how you have helped others/ considered the needs of others.
Give me an example of an ethical decision you had to make.
Outline your communication style/professional communication techniques.
Overcome Interview Nerves
If you are like the majority of internship or job seekers, an upcoming interview makes you nervous. Not only is that very common, but it also means you care about the outcome of the interview and impression you make. That’s not a bad thing, own it.
Example: “Thanks for inviting me today, but please bear with me, I am feeling a little nervous. I am very interested in this position and impressed with this company, so I would love to make a good impression and show the value I can offer your team. I might feel a little pressure today, because this opportunity is at the top of my list.”
Example: “Thanks for meeting with me today, but forgive my nerves. I feel I would be a great fit for you organization, and its important to me that I make a good impression and give you the opportunity to get to know me. Despite my preparation, I am nervous because this opportunity means a great deal to me.”
Give yourself a pep talk before you go. An interview offer means they already said “yes” to your application once and not every applicant got that far. It means they already like you, they already see potential in you. This is a great compliment, take pride in that and help it boost your confidence.
Give yourself plenty of prep time the day of the interview. This includes time to get dressed, drive, park and breathe. Rushing is a easy way to feel flustered before the interview and won’t set you off on the right foot. Reserve plenty of time before your interview and schedule it for a day that doesn’t have significant other events or deadlines (major tests, presentations, busy schedule, etc.).
I see nerves come out in lots of ways: sweaty hands, blushing, blotchy chest/neck, stutters, talking too fast or too quiet, poor eye contact, and fiddling. Be aware of what your “tell’ is and make a conscience effort to reduce (likely not eliminate) the effect. Again, these are all very common and interviewers won’t even blink to see them if they are in moderation.
Compensate for your nerves in other ways; such as impeccable interview attire, impressive handshake, killer opening answer, and solid questions to ask based on company research.
Consider your fit within the organization
It is important that you bring good questions to ask the employer during the interview so you can get a good understanding of the organizational culture, leadership style and overall dynamics of the team. Don’t ask something that can be found on their website or in the job description.Avoid the “what’s in it for me?” type of questions. NEVER ask about salary or benefits. Ask questions that would allow you to fairly evaluate if the environment, employees, management and overall company are what you are looking for in a career.
Prepare 5-7 questions but likely you will only ask 1-3.
What initially interested you in this company?
What is your favorite part of this company?
Tell me about a typical career path for this position?
Describe the office culture.
What type of leadership is there within the company?
Describe the supervision style of my manager/supervisor.
Is there a mentor program for new hires?
Can you provide examples of the types of projects I might work on?
What are some of the long or short term strategic directions of the company?
What advice do you have for someone entering the company in this position?
Who evaluates employee performance and how is success measured?
What is your timeline like for hiring?
I am very interested in this position. What is my next step in the hiring process?
I especially recommend questions that demonstrate company research.
I saw your intern team last year spent time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, are there other similar projects scheduled for this year?
I noticed ________ is mentioned in your mission statements, how does that affect the type of work you do?
I read an article about how your company has been leveraging new technology, how do entry level positions or interns use the new software?
Your company’s social media pages demonstrate how your are using new branding methods, can you tell me about the vision for the future?
Additional Interview Prep Resources:
Handshake resource page interview tile:
There you can find an Interview quick guide with sample questions and strategies, links to industry specific questions, and a Ted Talk discussing body language
Schedule a Mock Interview with a Career Coach:
A great way to get feedback on your interview skills is to schedule a 60 minute mock interview in CCPD. This can help you identify your strengths and areas of improvement so you feel more prepared and confident before meeting with an employer. You should also bring sample questions you want to ask an employer during an interview and discuss your interview attire to make sure you are meeting business professional expectations.
We have an online tool to help you prepare for interviews, Big Interview. You can use the program 24/7 to practice interview questions and review your responses. This is an excellent way to prep for skype or online interviews, but also a great way to practice your question responses and learn industry specific questions.
(Must use a webcam or laptop with built in camera to utilize the program)
First time users Register with green button on top right of the page
Returning users Click “Login” on top right of the page and use Lehigh email address to log on
From the menu choose Practice-Practice Interviews
Choose the category that best fits you (Suggestion: Industry or Competency/Skillset)
After completing the interview you can watch it or send it to someone for review. (Pro tip: share the link with a mentor on Lehigh Connects for feedback from an industry professional).
Interview Prep checklist:
Practice via Big Interview online tool
Research Industry Specific Questions
Access Handshake Resources page interview tile
Schedule a Mock Interview with a career coach
Address feelings of anxiety or nervousness
Purchase business professional attire (have it altered and/or cleaned if needed)
Print extra resume copies on resume paper
Have directions and parking instructions
Request to be excused from class (if necessary)
Interviewing will get easier with practice, it is worth the time and energy to prepare, and interviewing is a life long skill you will use during your entire career. This part can be a challenge but it has a huge pay off!