Interview Steps and Skills

Interview Steps

  1. The Co-op Office sends out your resume with a cover letter form the office to the employer(s) you have an interest in, or seem to meet your skill level and requirements.
  2. When appropriate, the Co-op Office will call the employer within two weeks of sending the resume to determine whether or not the employer has received the resume and if there is an interest in scheduling an interview.
  3. The Co-op Office or the employer will contact you if you have an interview. You are expected to contact the Co-op employer within the day to schedule the interview.
After you have scheduled the interview, you need to contact the Co-op Office to confirm the time and date.

It is expected that you research the employer (Co-op Office may have company information). Obtain a copy of the job description to prepare for the interview.

Remember your resume was probably faxed to the employer, so bring a good copy of your resume, references and a portfolio, if appropriate.

After the interview, contact the Co-op Office to discuss what occurred and when decision will be made.

You can continue to apply and interview for Co-op positions until you have accepted a position or until the withdrawal period has expired. Once you have accepted a position you need to contact the Co-op Office.

Interview Skills

Advance Preparation

  • If you are uncertain of your interviewing skills ask the Co-op staff about available mock interview training and related videos and books.
  • Call prior to your appointment to confirm time and verify location and directions.
  • Get to the interview alone. Find a babysitter, if necessary. Some employers immediately eliminate a person who brings another person to an interview.
  • Arrange your schedule leaving a two-hour block of time for the interview. Go on a trial run to the interview site.
  • Make an effort to become familiar with the company's operations:
    • Demonstrate to the interviewer that you have "done your homework" and are serious about the job.
    • Know the principle products or services provided by the company. Understand how these products are made and sold and who purchases them.
    • Obtain this information from annual reports, brochures, and literature (The Co-op Office may be able to help.)
  • Understand yourself:
    • Know your strengths and abilities. By identifying these you will be able to understand what you have to offer an employer.
    • Be able to clearly state your abilities and potential.
  • RELAX!

At the interview

  • Know the interviewer's name
    • Ask if you are not sure. Get the correct pronunciation.
    • Request his/her business card to get the correct title and spelling for when you send a thank you letter.
  • Consider your appearance:
    • Wear a suit; look professional.
    • Neatness counts.
    • Your hair should be well-groomed.
    • Don't overdo the cosmetics or perfume/cologne
    • Attend to personal hygiene.
  • Mind your manners:
    • Be courteous — to all members of the company, as well as to the interviewer. Indirect hiring decisions are often made by comments made by the secretary or receptionist.
    • Shake hands when your interviewer offers. Usually a female offers her hand first to a man, though. Avoid the limp handshake as well as the atlas grip. Poor handshakes turn people off.
    • Wait to sit until the interviewer is seated or offers you a seat.
    • Don't smoke or chew gum.
    • Thank the interviewer for his/her time when the interview is concluded.
  • Don't invade the interviewer's space. Do not lean on or place your handbag or other personal items on the interviewer's desk.
  • Check your attitude:
    • Let your self-confidence shine through, but don't be arrogant.
    • It's okay to smile.
    • Maintain a pleasant, friendly, and courteous attitude.
    • Make eye contact with the interviewer.
    • BE ENTHUSIASTIC, let your interest in the job be apparent.
    • Do not go to the interview with a defeatist attitude. BE POSITIVE!
  • When answering questions:
    • Present your strongest qualifications.
    • Be frank, honest and open. Be yourself.
    • If you don't know the answer to a question, say so.
    • Avoid negative words, and especially negative comments about previous employers.
    • Don't get emotional.
    • Be responsive and alert. Show an interest in the interviewer. Establish rapport.
    • Answer the question that is asked of you. If you do not understand it, ask for clarification.
  • Don't be late. If the unforeseen occurs, call and let them know that you're going to be delayed.

Anticipate questions.  Remember that each question also has the unstated question, "and why should I hire you."

  • What are your short range and long range career goals? How will you go about achieving them?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How/why did you choose this particular career field to pursue?
  • What can you do for this company? Why should we hire you?
  • What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What academic courses (high school/college) did you enjoy the most? Why?
  • Which courses best prepared you for working in this field?
  • Why are you interested in working for this company?
  • Tell me about a person you admire and why.
  • What do you do with your leisure time? What hobbies do you have?
  • What qualities would you look for in a candidate if you were hiring for this position?
  • Tell me about some things you have accomplished and why you get satisfaction from them.
  • What was your greatest failure?
  • What major disappointments have you encountered and how did you deal with them?
  • What style of management do you work best under?
  • What attracted you to apply for this position?
  • What personal traits do you possess that will allow you to perform well in this position?
  • How good are your communication skills (written/oral)? Give some examples.
  • What factors did you like best about your previous position(s)?
  • What do you expect to be doing five years from now? Ten years?
  • Will you work overtime or travel?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • When can you start work for us?
  • Can you give me the names of three additional people I can contact for references?

Ask questions

  • Would you describe some of the job duties?
  • Would you describe a typical work day?
  • What opportunities exist for training?
  • Who would be my immediate supervisor?
  • How are responsibilities assigned (priorities determined) for the organization?
  • What is the acceptable dress code for this position?
  • How often and in what manner is performance evaluated?
  • How many people work in the department?
  • How many sales offices does the company have?
  • When do you intend to select a candidate, and what would the starting date be?
  • What improvements would you like to see in this position?
  • How would you describe the ideal candidate for this position?
  • In what areas does the company/firm/agency excel?
  • What is the growth potential of this position?
  • What are some of the organization's key objectives?
  • How is this department perceived by others in the organization?

After the interview

  • Immediately after the interview, prepare a typed thank-you letter or appropriate handwritten thank-you card to reemphasize your interest in the job.
  • You may want to use this letter to include information you wished to communicate during the interview but were unable to for one reason or another.
  • Remember to be brief.
Last Update: February 29 2012
For additional information, contact: Robert Henderson