It’s time! You’ve sent off your resume, passed a phone screening, and now you’re headed toward another step of the hiring process – the interview. 

If you’re like most people, the thought of a job interview is nerve-wracking. If you’re going to ace the interview, you’ll have to be on your A-game. We’ve collaborated with the University Career Center to present some tips to score your next big opportunity

1. Do your research.

Take some time to research the company online. Check out their website, as well as any recent news stories they’ve been mentioned in. It’s helpful to know about the company’s values, recent successes, and current challenges. 

If you can find a way to bring these aspects up naturally during your interview, you’ll score some major points with the hiring manager and show that you’re genuinely interested in their work.

2. Understand your “why.”

Once you’ve done your research, it’s important to put the company’s values and history into context with your previous experiences and current aspirations. 

Why do you want to work at this specific company, and what makes you a great fit for their culture and goals?

Many interviewers will ask this question outright, so be prepared to provide a thoughtful response. According to Chelsea Moore, Assistant Director at the University Career Center, it’s important to personalize your answer. 

“Don’t just read the mission statement back. Focus more on how it resonates with you. Be sure to tell your own stories and make your answer personal,” said Moore.

3. Be prepared for uncommon interview formats.

Many of us are familiar with the standard interview format. You sit down with one or more staff members to answer interview questions, usually using the STAR method. As virtual interviews become more commonplace, some additional interview practices have emerged.

“More and more students have asynchronous interviews,” says Chelsea Moore. “Many companies use online tools where applicants are answering questions and recording themselves.”

You may be asked to perform an activity, puzzle, or problem solving task online, or record yourself answering interview questions.

These asynchronous tests have their perks – you can complete them on your own time, give yourself some time to think before answering, and have your resume handy if you need a refresher. Some platforms even let you re-record your answers!

However, these kinds of interviews can feel uncomfortable since you aren’t actually speaking with another person.

“We want our students to be conversational, focusing on that warmth. It’s hard to do that when you aren’t receiving feedback from an interviewer, but it gets easier with practice.” said Chelsea Moore.

If you have an asynchronous interview coming up, it’s a good idea to film some practice questions on your own. That way, you can get used to talking to a camera without another person present.

4. Remember to be yourself.

Under the pressure of an interview setting, it’s common for nerves to get in the way of letting our personalities shine through.

“Sometimes, students are so focused on giving the ‘right answer’ that they don’t end up telling the interviewer about themselves. This can make your answers end up sounding cliche,” said Chelsea Moore. 

While it’s important to be polished and thoughtful of what they’re looking for, it’s also important to be genuine.

“There is such a thing as being too rehearsed. Students want to nail the interview, so it’s common to know what questions may come up and type out a script. You’re better off having talking points. It will be more conversational, and you can focus more on connecting with the interviewer.”

5. Prepare to ask questions.

At the end of your interview, the interviewer will almost always ask if you have any questions for them. This is an opportunity to show your genuine interest in the company.

The best questions are genuine questions that come out of your research. If you ask questions you think you’re supposed to ask, it can come off as rehearsed,” said Chelsea Moore.

After conducting your research, create a list of genuine questions you have about the company and their work. What interests you most about what they’ve accomplished so far? What challenges do you expect them to face, and how are they overcoming those challenges?

Moore says this is also a great time to get an inside look at the team’s culture. “It’s great to ask questions that let the other side brag about their team, or talk about their culture. What are you most proud of from your team? What’s a challenge you saw last year, and how did that go?”

When it comes to logistical questions, it’s best to save those for the hiring manager at a later time.

6. Ask for help.

The University of Michigan has a wealth of resources available for interview practice, tips, and strategies. Here’s how you can get in touch with the University Career Center.

  • Make an appointment on Handshake. You’ll have the choice between a mock interview and an interviewing tips and strategies appointment.
  • Call the front desk at 734-764-7460.
  • Use the Big Interview platform to learn and practice your interviewing skills.
  • Reach out to alumni on the University Career Alumni Network to get perspective on the industry and how to prepare for interviews from alumni in the field.
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