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Bring Your Interviewing A-Game
By Carolyn Preul
Published Summer 2021, Affinity magazine

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 May, the CCAA hosted a virtual career workshop to discuss interviewing skills. Tiffani Martin, assistant director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center, outlined key tips to keep the conversation on track, what to expect in phone vs. in-person settings and how to approach direct, behavioral and case-based questions. The presentation was moderated by Keith McIver, director of Alumni Development. Following the presentation, workshop attendees participated in a live Q&A session:

How can I answer “Why should we hire you?”
There is not a right or wrong answer. Think of this as your closing remarks. Summarize your key skills and remind them why you are interested in the position and a good fit for the company.

How do you frame answers during a career transition?
If an interviewer asks why you want to make a change, this is an opportunity to tell your story and how the path has led you here.

How far back should you relate your experiences?
Consider the relevance to the position. With a resume, we talk about focusing on the past 10 years. You may go further back to draw on examples that speak best to your experience.

Does graduating with honors make a good impression on the employer?
Hiring professionals will see it on a resume, but at a certain point it comes down to skillset. However, grades can speak to your story of success (commitment/excellence/perseverance) and are okay to include on your resume.

Can you sound too arrogant/confident in an interview?
You are the first person to tell them that you can do the job. Yes, you can overdo it and come off as arrogant, but that’s why you practice. The interview is your time to call out your strengths and accomplishments. When they ask if you have questions for us, it’s okay to ask tough questions of the panel. Find out how long someone has worked for the company and what keeps them there.

How can I get constructive criticism or address silent objections?
It’s okay to ask if they have concerns that have not been addressed. Try asking “what makes the perfect candidate for this job,” to see if that triggers another talking point. You can also send a thank-you note and highlight a strength that may not have been discussed.

What should you bring (or not bring) to an interview?
Bring a notepad or padfolio to take notes and extra copies of your resume just in case. Make sure your phone is turned off.

Career counseling, networking and resumé assistance are available free of charge to all students and alumni through the Grossnickle Career Services Center. To get started, contact (800) 231-2391 ext. 7425 or visit