Interview Preparation

After creating your perfect application package, you've been offered an interview - congratulations! But now what? How do you stand out in an interview? Interviews can make even the most confident people nervous because there are so many people who share the same (or even more) qualifications for the position.  cover letter should accompany every resume. 

The most disappointing interviews are the ones where candidates do not spend enough time preparing. Preparing for an interview leads to sharing your key strengths with the interviewer that are most relevant to the position, and will help you feel confident and relaxed. We already know you’re great on paper – we read your resume and offered you an interview after all – and the interview is about giving us the opportunity to learn more about you as our potential employee.
Hiring the wrong candidate costs us more money and time in the long run, so we have set up a solid interview process to help us ensure the candidate we pick will be the right fit for the role and the MSU, and will make an immediate, positive impact on the organization. We hope that candidate will be you!
While every company will have different interview techniques, the tips below will give you a firm foundation for interviews.

 

Common Interview Questions

Questions will usually fall into three categories, to help the interviewers understand a candidate’s skills, experience, and personality. Broadly, these categories will be: skills-based, behavioural, and situational.

Skills-based questions are directly related to experience with tools, technologies, and industry standards.
Behavioural questions offer a view of each candidate’s approach to a task based on past experience. In the MSU’s opinion, past performance is an excellent indicator of future performance.
Situational questions are hypothetical, which give the interviewer the chance to see how a candidate may react to a scenario in the role.
Now that you know the types of questions you can expect to encounter in an interview, you need to prepare answers!
The STAR method provides a simple framework to use when crafting your answers.
  • S: Situation: Open with a description of the situation and context of the success story (who, what, where, why, how)
  • T: Task: Explain the task you had to complete, highlighting any specific challenges or constraints.
  • A: Action: Describe the specific actions that you took to complete the task. These should highlight your strengths.
  • R: Result: Close with the result of your efforts
An example:
Q: Can you think of a time when you dealt with the concerns of a particularly challenging customer?
A. As a residence hall desk attendant, one of my main responsibilities was to handle telephone calls and requests for information [SITUATION]. One time, a parent called the desk frantic because she had tried to call her son for a couple of days and had gotten no response. She demanded that I locate her son [TASK]. I knew I had to stay calm because she was upset. I let her talk for several minutes, reassured her that I understood how frightening it must be, and carefully explained that I could not leave the desk to locate her son. I didn’t want to just transfer her to the CA in case she ended up talking to an answering machine, so I asked if I could put her on hold, and called the CA on that floor. He wasn’t in, but luckily I found the Residence Manager, so I transferred the call to the Resident Manager [ACTION]. By then, my patience and efforts to help had calmed down the parent [RESULT].”
The most common behaviour based question categories are:
  1. Teamwork oriented
  2. Problem solving
  3. Initiative/Leadership
  4. Interpersonal Skills
  5. Challenge/stress/pressure
If you prepare a success story to cover each these 5 categories then you will be covering your bases pretty well and be saving yourself a lot of time in preparation.
You just need to be able tweak your success story to whatever question comes down the pipe.

 

End of Interview Questions

At the end of an interview, you will usually be asked if you have any questions. The questions you ask can be as important as the answers you have provided up until this point.  If you don’t ask something, it can be taken as a sign of lack of interest.
Have a list of prepared questions.  If you have done your homework (research of organization and the role), the questions will present themselves to you!

 

Remember to always say thank you.
 
There are tons of great resources available for interview preparation. 
The Student Success Centre provides and online tool where you can practice your interview skills, anytime, anywhere. Check out InterviewStream for more information.