Acing an Interview: A Chat with MACU Student Success
June 3rd, 2019
By Katelyn Elrod
Many people would place being interviewed in their list of top ten things that stress them out the most, right next to putting your money away while someone is waiting behind you and truthfully answering your dentist when they ask how often you floss.
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, but they don’t have to be. One of the best ways to settle the butterflies in your stomach is to prepare, prepare, prepare. I asked David Rodriguez, MACU Student Success Coordinator, for some interviewing tips that could help prospective employees answer questions with confidence and leave a positive impression on an interviewer.
What are a few questions you should be prepared for?
A lot of interviewers use the same types of questions, so if this is your first interviewing rodeo, I would recommend looking up a list of interview questions and crafting answers for them. Here are a few questions David mentioned as being pretty common as well as tips on how to answer them:
What do you know about the company?
David’s tip on answering this question was doing plenty of research on the company before the interview, especially paying attention to the company’s mission and values.
Tell me about a time you had a conflict or challenge at work. How did you handle it?
David recommended following the S.T.A.R. method: Situation, Task, Actions, Results. Using this method, you’ll describe the context of the conflict or challenge, only including details that contribute to the story, and then describe the task for which you were responsible. The next two parts are where you really have the opportunity to shine. In the Actions portion, you will give specific details about how you strategically addressed the issue, and in the Results portion, you will describe the positive outcomes of the actions you took.
What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?
This question is one of the most common, and it can be difficult to both sound truthful and sell yourself. David’s advice?
“Use this time to pick one strength of yours that aligns with the company values or that was mentioned in a job description, and share it. When it comes to choosing a weakness, say ‘One of the things I have been improving is my…’ and mention a trait or skill you know needs to be improved and the steps you have taken to improve that skill or trait.”
If you are wondering how to put this into action, David gave a great example:
“For example, ‘One of the things I have been improving is my attention to detail. In my current position, I will make sure to review Excel tables and formulas twice to ensure accuracy before submitting a report.’”
What should you wear to an interview?
In order to wow those who are interviewing you, David recommended always dressing one or two levels above the position for which you are applying. In addition, he suggested always wearing clean clothes, possibly donning a color that represents the company, and being mindful about the amount of jewelry you wear.
Remember: professional and polished, not filthy or flashy.
What makes an interviewee stand out from the pack?
Again, David recommended being versed in the company’s mission, as connecting with the heart of a company makes a job candidate distinct.
“Their knowledge of the company, their confidence, and alignment with the company's values or cultures,” he said.
What is your advice to someone with little experience in the career field for which they are interviewing?
This is a point of concern that especially hits home with recent graduates, who may have zero to minimal job experience. Even entry-level job postings often state that those with experience are preferred. That can make job interviews daunting if you don’t have any experience, even if your degree is relevant to the position.
David’s advice was to research the company and the specific position, and then think of experiences you have had that align with some of the job’s requirements. In addition, make it clear that you are ready to take on new challenges.
“Be confident in your ability to learn new things and be successful,” David said.
What are a few things not to do in an interview?
David’s first piece of advice is great advice for any situation: be humble.
“Do not assume you have the position,” David suggested.
Also, David encouraged interviewees to answer questions concisely but with enough detail.
“Do not say too much or say too little. Simply answer the questions, and occasionally follow up with an example.”
Final words from David:
“Be able to confidently discuss any topic from your resume and how you see it playing into the position you are interviewing for.”
In summary, know the company and know yourself to kill that interview.
For more information about interviews, appropriate dress, resumes and more, reach out to the MACU Student Success Center by emailing [email protected] or give them a call at 405-692-3159. You can also follow Student Success on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more interview and job-searching tips and inspiration!