Interviewing Skills

Virtual Career Workshop | May 26, 2021

The purpose of an interview is to see if you will be a good fit for a company and to follow up on the information provided in your resume. At the same time, this is also your opportunity to get to know a company’s dynamic and find out what separates you from the rest of the crowd.

In the fourth installment of the CCAA’s virtual career workshops, Tiffani Martin, assistant director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center, sets the stage for job interview expectations and performance. The presentation was moderated by Keith McIver, director of Alumni Development.

First impressions are determined by the way (1) you dress and act, (2) the quality of your voice and (3) the words you choose to say. Use these tips to keep the conversation on track.

  • Do your homework: Google the company to learn its mission and what other people say about it as a place of work.
  • Know where you’re going: Make sure phone numbers, Zoom links or office locations are secured ahead of time.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence: It usually means that the interviewer is taking notes, and that’s okay.
  • Answer everyone in the room with eye contact: Keep your head up with good posture and remember to smile.
  • Have questions: This showcases your level of interest in the job and respect for the interviewer’s time.
  • Stay positive: You’ll get some “negative” questions, but you want to answer in the most positive way you can.

There are several methods for interviews techniques outside of a traditional office setting. More companies are leaning toward phone interviews as a first step. Make sure you have a good connection, quiet background and bring your notes. They can’t see you smile, but they can hear it! While you won’t have the visual cues, avoid rambling to fill silence.

In a virtual setting, a simple background and bright lighting will make a better impression. Make sure your notes are not visible, dress appropriately and watch for visual cues across the panel.

You may also be invited to meet in a public setting for an in-person interview. While it appears “casual” to meet over lunch or coffee, be mindful of your actions. How you interact with wait staff and personal etiquette are also under scrutiny.

Interview questions typically fit in three categories: direct, behavioral and case-based. You may pull from professional, academic, volunteer or community activities to showcase your experience.

Direct questions tend to be conversational.

“Tell me about yourself.”

  • Why did you choose this industry? Why are you interested in this position?
  • Think past/present/future: Where are you now, where did you come from and what are your professional goals?
  • Keep your answer to 60-90 seconds.

“What are your weaknesses?”

  • Be honest, but not too honest.
  • Choose a non-essential skill that won’t impact your ability to do the job, and highlight what you are doing to address it. Example: Fear of public speaking
  • Don’t say “I can’t think of anything right now.”

“What are your strengths?”

  • Think about compliments you receive from others and put it in context of this job’s expectations.
  • Examples: “I like to always be working.” / “I have this experience in this industry.”

Behavioral questions use past behaviors to predicate future actions.

  • “Tell me about a time when you worked with a team / were able to identify a problem and solve it.”

Case-based questions call on specific experiences.

  • You know about the industry and are looking for how you approach a situation. Think about how you would respond when put in a specific situation.

Martin referenced the following article link, “Your Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Questions” (Sept. 3, 2019, Washington Post Jobs), for helpful advice. Following the presentation, workshop attendees participated in a live Q&A session.

The Grossnickle Career Services Center offers free individual assistance for alumni and students. Contact or call (573) 875-7425 for more information.