PRACTICE For Interviews
The interview is another important step in telling your professional story, and preparing for an interview takes a lot more than Googling a company and reviewing the job description. Whether virtual or in-person, we have resources to help you practice for and ace your upcoming interviews.
- Behavioral interviewing is the most common interview strategy and focuses on asking the candidate questions about their past experiences as a predictor of how the candidate will perform in similar situations in the future.
- Some part of every interview process incorporates behavioral interview questions.
- Questions usually start with… “Tell me about a time when…” , “Give me an example of…”
- To be successful:
- Read the job description to anticipate the types of questions that may be asked.
- Put together a story that answers each question and follows the STAR technique
Note 1: If asked a question about a time when something didn’t go well, be prepared to answer what you learned from the situation.
Note 2: In your response, action and results should make up the majority of your story, not situation and task.
- S = Situation: What was the situation/background? Provide just enough detail for the interviewer to understand the context.
- T = Task: What was the problem/challenge you were tasked with working on and were responsible for?
- A = Action: What action(s) did you personally take to work towards the end goal?
- R = Result: What happened in the end? Explain the outcomes and impact of your work. Quantify when appropriate.
Practice answering questions using the STAR technique and get feedback from the Career Center or someone you trust prior to the interview.
- Technical interviews are commonly used as part of an interview strategy in technical fields—like engineering. The technical interview may either precede or come after the behavioral interview. They provide the interviewer with information on your ability and thought process around solving technical problems—like coding. They also assess your technical knowledge.
- Questions relate to demonstrating how you would solve a problem, and you usually are timed. Sometimes you are asked to demonstrate on a white board, other times online.
- To be successful:
- Read the job description to anticipate the types of technical problems you may be asked to demonstrate your ability to solve.
- Practice solving those problems prior to the interview. Here are two great resources to help with technical interview practice:
- Get feedback from someone with technical skills and abilities you trust prior to the interview.
- Case studies are used most commonly as part of the interviewing process for consulting and investment banking roles.
- A business case is provided and you are asked what you would recommend for the client.
- These types of interviews require that you know certain technical business concepts, business terminology, and can work with numbers without the use of a computer. You also need to take multiple client data points into consideration so that you are able to talk through and back up your solution/recommendation for the client.
- To be successful:
INTERVIEW STRUCTURES AND FLOW
Not every company handles interviewing the same way. Some interview processes will move swiftly while others are more drawn out. Some companies will have just a few interview stages and others might have as many as four or five. You might meet with one person or you might be interviewing with a whole team. Below are some different interview stages/formats that you might encounter.
- Phone Screen: This is a very common first step in the interview process for most companies. It’s typically a short phone call with a recruiter where you’ll likely share more about your experience and interest in the company/position.
- Panel Interview: You might be invited to interview with any combination of the following: 1 hiring manager + a future colleague, partial or a whole team and/or search committee that could be 3-6 or more people, depending on their structure.
- Presentation: For some roles, you may be asked to prepare a presentation on a specific topic or presenting work that you’ve done, typically followed by Q&A.
- Lunch Interview: It might happen that lunch with your team is part of the interview process. Remember that even though it’s over a meal, you are still being evaluated as a potential fit for the role.
Informational Interview (career conversation): You may have heard this term before, and though it’s similar in some ways to a job interview, it’s more of a networking activity. This is simply a career conversation with a professional in your field to learn more about what they do, the company they work for, the industry, etc.. Learn more about career conversations (informational interviewing) and networking here.
Typical Interview Process Flow:
The number of interview stages varies from company to company. Three to five stages is most common. As you interview successfully at each stage, you move forward in the process. Be sure to ask about next steps at the end of each stage, so you know what to expect in terms of timing and follow-up.
Here is a fairly typical interview process flow.
Stage 1 - Initial Interview:
- The purpose of this interview is to see if you appear to meet the qualifications of the role and are interested in the job.
- This interview is usually with a recruiter if the role is with a larger company and could be with the hiring manager in a smaller organization. A phone screen/interview is most common at this stage.
- Some initial interviews are virtual (Zoom or Microsoft Teams, etc.).
- You may also be invited to a recorded virtual interview at this stage - most commonly HireVue. See the Platforms for Interview Practice link if you are invited to record a virtual interview.
Stage 2 - Second Interview(s):
- The purpose of this interview is to dig deeper into your qualifications and gain an understanding of your ability to do the job and your true interest and knowledge about the company. At this stage, you will be asked more behavioral questions, and you’ll want to have answers to share in the STAR format.
- This interview will either be virtual (Zoom, Microsoft teams, etc.) or in-person.
- This stage can go in one of two directions.
- Direction 1:
- Interview with the hiring manager or team member only. Then, move on to Stage #3, which may include some or all of Direction 2 below.
- Direction 2:
- Interview with the hiring manager or team member combined with additional interviews on the same day especially if this stage is in-person. This could be a panel interview format where several people ask you questions OR a few individual one on one interviews. It just depends on the company’s process. You might hear the term “interview day” if you are being invited for multiple interviews.
- A Case/Technical interview can be part of this stage - if you are interviewing for a Consulting, Investment Banking or technical role.
- In higher education or other roles where you may be required to present information regularly, at this stage you may be asked to deliver a presentation to a panel of your potential peers, the hiring manager and people you would partner with in the role. Usually there is a Q&A portion at the end for the panel to ask you questions.
- Lunch may also be part of this interview stage.
Stage 3 - Third Interview(s):
- For most companies, this is the last stage. You are asked to interview in-person with an important decision maker(s) to ensure that you are the right fit for the role.
- At this stage, you are one of a small pool of final candidates.
- If you are successful at this stage, a recruiter will most likely reach out to you to ask to speak with your references.
Stage 4 - Offer:
- Offers are usually extended by recruiters over the phone in what is called a verbal offer.
- The recruiter will go through the offer with you and then send it to you in writing.
- Until you have an offer in writing it is not a solid offer.
- It is recommended that you don’t accept a verbal offer on the spot. Until you have an offer in writing, there is nothing to negotiate.
- Review the offer in writing first. You may want to negotiate your offer as well.
PLATFORMS FOR INTERVIEW PRACTICE:
- Big Interview
Get started with this online platform that not only provides interviewing tips, but also allows you to practice industry specific questions in a virtual mock interview format.
To create your account, you’ll need a one-time Organization Code along with your SCU email address. Click Here, click on register, enter the information they ask for using your SCU email, and enter 0559 in the Organization box.
Watch a brief video on how to create your Big Interview account and utilize this resource to meet your interviewing prep needs.
HireVue is a tool that companies use to automate the interview process. It is one of several tools on the market used for this purpose. As an interviewee, you use HireVue to record your answers to interview questions. It’s just you and the camera. You may have a few opportunities to re-record your answers before you submit the final recording. HireVue offers a practice link to allow you the opportunity to try out the technology before you find yourself in this type of interview situation. Please watch this quick video below to get started with your free practice link.
VIRTUAL INTERVIEWING SUPPORT:
- Virtual Interviewing Support
- Interviewing Guide
Dig into a variety of interviewing tips and strategies in our one page PDF guide.
SUGGESTED QUESTIONS TO ASK AT THE END OF AN INTERVIEW
“Those are all of the questions we have. What questions do you have for us?”
For the most part, this is how every interview will end. Now it’s your turn to ask the questions. Be sure to come up with questions based on your research and what you’ve learned in the interview. Avoid asking questions about salary, benefits, parking, etc. This should be about the job, the company, and your interviewers. Here are some suggested questions to ask at the end of an interview:
- Can you share what types of opportunities there would be for someone in this role to collaborate cross-functionally?
- What does success look like in this role? What are some challenges you expect for someone coming into this job?
- What does training look like for this role?
- What opportunities exist for professional development for someone in this position?
- How do you see this role/this team/ the company evolving over the next few years?
- How has this role/this team/the company changed in the X number of years you’ve been here?
- What are some things that you like about working here? What are some things you would change if you could?
- How would you describe the culture and work environment here?
- How does the company (or “you” if interviewing with a hiring manager) foster the feeling of “team” for employees that are hybrid or remote?
- How would you describe your leadership style? (for the hiring manager interview)
- Very important: As one of your last questions, ask the interviewer about the next steps in the process and when you can expect to hear back. Recruiters/ interviewers often forget to provide this information, and knowing the answer will make it easier for you to follow-up if you have not heard back in the time frame provided.
While getting an interview is good news, it can also be intimidating and stressful. Leverage this guided meditation to help you manage stress and stay grounded for your interview!
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
There are a couple of things you’ll want to do after your interview:
- Jot down a few notes:
- What questions were you asked?
- Were the questions what you expected?
- How well did you answer the questions you were asked?
- Is there anything you would do differently in a future interview? If so, what?
- What did you learn during the interview - about the company, position, yourself?
- Write and send a thank you email within 24 hours of your interview. See sample emails here.
- Follow up if you do not hear back from the company within the timeframe they specified. If the recruiter/hiring manager did not give you a specific or approximate timeframe, it is appropriate to reach out one to two weeks after your interview should you not receive any updates. In either case, indicating that you are following up on the status of your candidacy is a professional way to broach the topic.