- Be prepared! Review information on the organization
and the position well in advance of the interview. Be
prepared to talk about your assets and how they relate
to the organization and position.
- Be comfortable discussing everything on your resume,
some interviewers will use it as their only guide for
- Practice! Have a friend ask you common interview
- Dress appropriately. A positive first impression
gets the interview off to a good start. Many employers
now have a business casual work environment, however,
most prefer or expect professional dress for interviews.
Always error on the conservative side when choosing
interview attire including jewelry, make-up, and perfume
- Utilize positive nonverbal communication to show
your interest. A firm handshake, a smile and good eye
contact are very important.
- Be positive. Keep answers to questions positive
and upbeat, do not offer or dwell on negatives.
- Use examples from professional internships, work
experiences, projects, achievements, and college and
community involvement. Interviewers often hear the same
answers from several candidates, but the stories you
tell are unique to you.
- Listen attentively to the interviewer. If you do
not understand a question, ask to have it restated.
- Let the interviewer control the questions while
you control the answers. Controlling the answers means
that you will be deciding what to say and what examples
to give as a result of your interview preparation.
- If you do not know the answer to the question, don't
be afraid to admit it.
- If you think your answer may have been too short,
ask the interviewer if you answered the question or
if he or she would like additional details. If you think
your answers are too long and the interviewer does not
maintain eye contact with you, stop and ask if you are
answering the question.
- Be honest. Any information you give is subject to
- Being nervous is normal. If you are interested in
the position whether it is a new employer, or a promotional
opportunity with your current employer, you will be
nervous. The interviewer is interested in getting to
know you and as a rule, will try to relieve your anxiety.
Thorough preparation and practice can alleviate anxiety.
- At the conclusion of the interview, if you are still
interested, politely reaffirm your interest in the position.
RESEARCH THE EMPLOYER
- Don't expect the employer to educate you about what
they do! Identify the organization's products or services,
investigate its history and growth. Most employers now
have excellent websites that will provide you with all
the necessary information. If you cannot find any specific
information about the organization, then research the
industry or field.
- Request a copy of the job description for the position
you are considering. It will help you identify your
strengths as they relate to the position.
QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD BE PREPARED TO ANSWER
Many of the common questions interviewers ask are included
in this section. No two interviews or interviewers will
be alike. Questions generally take three forms, situational
which asks an applicant to respond to a given situation;
observational where an applicant is asked to reflect upon
the actions of a third party or conceptual where an applicant
is asked about their personal philosophy or future goals.
However, you should be prepared to answer the following
questions in any interview.
- Please give me an overview of your qualifications.
This is the most frequently asked question in interviews.
Always be prepared to summarize your background as it
relates to the position for which you are interviewing.
It is a wonderful opportunity to sell yourself and you
should look forward to this question. Inform the interviewer
before you begin to answer what you will outline. You
may want to go back to high school if you feel it is
relevant, or start with college. Briefly comment on
items highlighted on your resume.
- Why did you choose UW-La Crosse? or Why did you
major in _____? These questions give you the opportunity
to demonstrate your career commitment and your planning
ability. Describe how the decision was made.
- What are your career goals? This question tests
whether you've determined your career goals, and whether
your goals match what the organization has to offer.
Be clear and definite about your goals and demonstrate
your knowledge of the organization. Employers are concerned
about loyalty and staff turnover. Emphasize the fact
that you are being very thorough with your job search
to assure that you find the right match. If you are
interviewing for an internship, you may want to indicate
that you are carefully exploring career options and
an internship will give both you and the employer a
trial period of employment.
- Why do you want to work for our organization? This
is your opportunity to demonstrate what you know about
the organization from your research. Reasons might include
the reputation of the organization or department in
terms of products or service; the company's rapid growth,
or positive information you have received from employees
or previous interns of the organization.
- Why are you specifically interested in this position?
Comment on the skills and experiences you possess that
relate to the position.
- Describe your academic performance. Accent the positive.
Do not offer excuses! Discuss the fact that you've done
very well in the courses related to your major and career
choice. If you have strong academic references, suggest
the employer talk with them. If you have not indicated
your grade point average on your resume, there is a
very good chance you will be questioned about it. If
you think your grade point may create a problem in an
interview situation, consult a Career Services staff
- What are your strengths? Your strengths may be your
leadership experience, your academic achievement, your
career commitment, your relevant experience, or personal
traits such as motivation and dependability. Don't be
afraid to repeat or emphasize items on your resume or
items that may have already been discussed in the interview.
- What are some areas in which you feel you need are
still developing as a professional? Comment on areas
that you continue to improve upon such as your computer
knowledge, and your time management. If you obviously
don't meet one of the qualifications for the position,
address that issue and discuss how you will acquire
that knowledge or skill.
- Tell me what you learned from your previous work/internship
experiences. Be prepared to spend the majority of the
interview on this topic. Be ready to give more detail
on your responsibilities. Discuss what you learned and
observed, and how you grew professionally. Give examples
of what you accomplished. Relay positive feedback given
to you by co-workers and supervisors.
- Please discuss your personality strengths as they
relate to this position. Make a list of 6-8 of your
personality traits that you believe are assets. Write
down experiences and examples that demonstrate these
traits and be prepared to relay them in the interview.
- What additional comments do you wish to make regarding
your application? This question usually comes at the
end of the interview. If there are important experiences
or skills and abilities that you have not had the opportunity
to discuss, mention them now. Encourage them to contact
your references. Tell them how interested you are in
|Some employers believe that
the best predictor of future success is past success. In
behavior- based interviews, you will constantly be asked
to give examples or stories, to provide evidence that you
have the skills required for the position. In fact, the
interviewer will not continue until you have provided a
specific example. Success in behavior-based interviews requires
preparation and practice. You must be able to recall many
experiences quickly, select the most appropriate one, and
then describe it effectively. Create a list of 15-20 experiences
that demonstrate a variety of your skills and abilities.
Draw upon your college experiences, academic and extracurricular
involvement; volunteer and work experiences, and when appropriate,
personal situations. Practice describing these experiences.
When answering behavior based questions be certain to answer
the question completely. One way to do this is to follow
the STAR acronym in planning and presenting your answers.
Describe the situation
that you were in or the task that you needed to
accomplish. You must describe a specific event or
situation, not a generalized description of what
you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough
detail for the interviewer to understand.
Action you took
||Keep the focus on
you. Even if you are discussing a group project
or effort, describe what you did- not the efforts
of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell
what you did.
Results you achieved
||What happened? How
did the event end? What did you accomplish?
Here is a list of sample behavior-based interview questions
that may help you practice:
- Please give me your best example of working cooperatively
as a team member to accomplish an important goal. What
was the goal or objective? What was your role in achieving
this objective? To what extent did you interact with
others on this project?
- Describe a project you were responsible for that
required interaction with people over a long period
- Describe a time when you contributed to a team's
- Give me an example of a time when you motivated
- Give me a specific example of a time when you had
to address an angry customer. What was the problem and
what was the outcome? How would you assess your role
in defusing the situation?
- Describe a service that you have provided or experienced
that you believe represents a concern for the customer.
- Describe the most significant or creative presentation/idea
that you developed/implemented.
- Can you give me an example of how you have been
creative in completing your responsibilities?
- Tell me about a project/suggestion that you initiated.
Explain how you communicated the project/suggestion.
to Change/Continuous Learning/Development
- Tell me about a decision you made while under of
- Give me an example of how you reacted in a pressure
situation. How did the situation come about? How did
you react? What made you decide to handle it that way?
What effect, if any, did this have on your other responsibilities?
- Describe a decision you made or a situation that
you would have handled differently if you had to do
it over again.
- Tell me about a time when your supervisor/co-workers
gave you feedback about your work. What did you learn
- Give me an example of something you have done, which
furthered your own professional development in college.
- Tell me about a time when you were asked to complete
a difficult assignment even though the odds were against
you. What did you learn from that experience?
- Give me an example of a time when you went beyond
the call of duty in order to get the job done.
- Describe a situation in which you were able to use
persuasion to successfully convince someone to approach
things your way.
- Describe a leadership situation that you would handle
differently if you had to do it over again.
- Tell me about a time when you reached out for additional
- Give me an example of what you have done in your
present/previous job that goes beyond what was required?
- Give me an example of when you showed initiative
and took the lead.
- Give me an example of something you've done in previous
jobs that demonstrate your willingness to work hard.
|Supports Diversity and
Understands Diversity Issues
- Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a
wide variety of people by accepting/understanding their
- Give me an example of something you have done to
further your knowledge/understanding about diversity?
- Tell me about a time that you successfully adapted
to a culturally different environment.
- Tell me about a time that you evaluated your own
beliefs or opinions around issues or difference.
- Tell me about a specific time when you had to handle
a tough problem which challenged fairness or ethical
- Give me examples of how you have acted with integrity
(walked your talk) in your job/work relationship.
- Tell me about a time when you were required to trust
someone unfamiliar to you when completing a project
- Describe a time when maintaining confidentiality
was required of you.
- Describe a time when you set high standards for
the quality of your work.
- Give me an example of a time when you set a goal
and were able to meet or achieve it.
- Tell me about a time when you had too many things
to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
- Are you better at working on many things at a time,
or are you better at working on and getting results
from a few specific things? Please give me two examples
that illustrate this.
- Describe one of you best accomplishments, including
where the assignment came from, your plans in carrying
it out, and any obstacles you overcame.
- Describe an instance when you had to think quickly
in a difficult situation.
- Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful
situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
- Give an example of a challenging problem that you
are proud you solved.
- Give me an example of your typical way of dealing
- Describe a time when you used your fact-finding
skills to solve a problem.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you used
good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
|Making Effective Decisions
- Tell me about an experience in which you had a limited
amount of time to make a difficult decision.
- Tell me about a difficult decision you've made in
the last year.
- Tell me about a decision that you've made in the
past that if you had it to do over, you would do differently.
- Describe your involvement in a decision that involved
- Tell me about a time in which you had to use your
written communication skills in order to get an important
- Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation
skills to influence someone's opinion.
- Describe an important report that required effective
|THE TEACHER PERCEIVER INTERVIEW
FOR EDUCATION CANDIDATES
The Teacher Perceiver Process is based on a twenty-year
study of teachers who stimulate students' learning. The
process begins with a person who is concerned about identifying
teachers who will truly be helpful to students. This person
is referred to as the Teacher Perceiver Specialist. All
questions are used with each candidate and the questions
are asked in a prescribed manner. The Teacher Perceiver
Specialist is encouraged to tape record the interview that
takes approximately 45 minutes.
The Teacher Perceiver Themes are:
- MISSION - Deep underlying belief that students
can grow and attain self-actualization. Goal to make
a significant contribution to other people.
- EMPATHY - Understanding of the state of mind
of another person. Put ourselves into the other person's
- RAPPORT DRIVE - Mutually favorable relationship
with each student. Likes students and sees it as a necessary
condition of learning.
- INDIVIDUALIZED PERCEPTION - Thinks about
the interests and needs of each student.
- LISTENING - Spontaneously listens to others
with responsiveness and acceptance.
- INVESTMENT - Capacity to receive satisfaction
from the growth of students.
- INPUT DRIVE - Continually searching for ideas,
materials, and experiences to use in helping students.
- ACTIVATION - Capable of stimulating students
to think, to respond, to feel--to learn.
- INNOVATION - Willing to try new ideas and
- GESTALT - Drive towards completeness - is
uneasy until work is finished - tends toward personal
perfectionism. Even though form and structure are important,
the individual student is considered first.
- OBJECTIVITY - Gets facts and understanding
first - responds to the total situation.
- FOCUS - Has models and goals - moving in
a planned direction. Selects activities in terms of
Sample teacher perceiver questions:
- What do you want to accomplish as a teacher?
- How will (do) you go about finding out about students'
attitudes and feelings about your class?
- An experienced teacher offers you the following
advice: "When you are teaching be sure to command the
respect of your students immediately and all will go
well." How do you feel about this?
- How do you go about deciding what it is that should
be taught in your class?
- A parent comes to you and complains that what you
are teaching his child is irrelevant to the child's
needs. How would you respond?
- What do you think will (does) provide you the greatest
pleasure in teaching?
- How do you go about finding what students are good
- Would you rather try a lot of way-out teaching strategies
or would you rather try to perfect the approaches that
work best for you? Explain your position.
- Do you like to teach with an overall plan in mind
for the year, or would you rather just teach some interesting
things and let the process determine the results? Explain
- A student is doing poorly in class. The students
tell you that you are the poorest teacher the student
has ever met. What would you do?
- If there were absolutely no restrictions placed
upon you, what would you most want to do in life?
|POSSIBLE QUESTIONS TO ASK
At some point in the interview, usually at the end,
the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. You
should plan your questions in advance of the interview and
perhaps write them down on index cards or a note pad to
take with you. Prepare more questions than you will be able
to ask, assuming that some of them will be answered during
the interview. The following is a list of questions you
may want to consider asking:
- What would be the scope of my job responsibilities?
- What major challenges and opportunities are facing
- What do you believe are the major challenges of
- How are employees evaluated?
- What forms of communication exist within the organization?
- How would you describe the organizational structure?
- Could you give me some additional information about
your training programs/support of continuing education?
- What skills do you think are important for your
- If I do my job well, where should I be after years
with this organization?
- How do you feel about community involvement?
- Why have you chosen to pursue a career with this
- When do you expect to make a hiring decision?
Do not ask about salary in an initial interview.
Wait for an employment offer to ask about salary and benefits.
It is possible that the interviewer will answer all of
your questions through the course of the interview. If that
happens, inform the interviewer that you had questions coming
into the interview; however, he or she has done a wonderful
job of providing information and at this time your questions
have been answered.
At the conclusion of the interview, thank the interviewer
and, if you still wish to be considered, sincerely reaffirm
your interest in the position.
|COMMON INTERVIEW FORMATS
FOR GRADUATING SENIORS AND INTERNS
On-campus interviews provide candidates the opportunity
to interview with employers on campus in facilities provided
by Career Services. On-campus interviews usually take place
during fall and spring semesters. The on-campus interview
schedule is posted in Career Services and on the Career
Services homepage. The schedule can change frequently during
the semester and is usually updated each week. Information
on employers interviewing on campus is available in Career
Services. Web Registration is recommended for participation
in On-Campus Interviews.
Employers use on-campus interviews, which typically last
one-half hour, as a way to narrow the field of candidates
for a position. Employers may also hold mandatory information
sessions before the interview (often the night before in
a location on campus). After on-campus interviews, employers
then may choose to invite some candidates for on-site interviews.
Sometimes your initial contact will be a telephone interview.
Often the employer uses a phone interview to narrow the
selection of candidates. The employer usually schedules
these phone interviews in advance. When receiving a phone
call, if you are busy or need time to collect your thoughts,
it is acceptable to tell the potential employer that you
will return the call at a more convenient time. Then set
up a time when you will return the call or they can call
you. This gives you time to reread your letter of application,
formulate questions to ask, and review material on the organization.
A telephone interview is difficult because you cannot
see the interviewer's nonverbal responses. Remember that
it is equally difficult for the interviewer. Use your voice
to indicate enthusiasm. If you are still interested in the
position, reaffirm this point with the interviewer and indicate
you would welcome the opportunity for an on-site interview.
You may be invited to visit the organization for your initial
interview or as a follow-up after a phone or on-campus interview
if they are considering your candidacy. This visit is the
pivotal point in the hiring process. One reason for inviting
you is to introduce you to the supervisors and other employees
in the department. A number of individuals, most of who
will be working in your field of specialization, will probably
be involved in the interview. (See Panel Interviews). They
will evaluate your abilities, professional competence, and
personality. Keep in mind that this type of interview will
vary from organization to organization.
Prior to going to an on-site interview, ask for a copy
of your itinerary. Double-check correspondence, travel and
lodging arrangements and directions before leaving for your
interview. Write down the name of the person(s) with whom
you spoke. If the employer does not mention reimbursement
for travel expenses, inquire beforehand to eliminate any
misunderstanding. Most school districts and nonprofit organizations
do not pay for travel expenses.
Many of the questions asked in the initial interview
will be repeated during the second interview. Several different
interviewers may ask you to review your background and explain
your interest in their organization. You will probably meet
with your liaison at the end of your interview schedule.
Give your impressions of the day and expect some feedback
on your progress. Quite often you will tour the facilities.
If a tour is not included and you would like one, ask. Sometimes
you will be given a tour of the community and housing possibilities.
Some employers will administer tests- psychological, aptitude,
etc., during your visit. If you are still interested in
the job at the end of the interview, let the interviewer
know. Explain what impressed you and why, and state that
you are hoping for a favorable reply.
Panel or Committee Interview
Panel interviews are used in many organizations in order
to make more effective hiring decisions and save supervisors'
time. Panels may consist of three or more interviewers from
throughout the organization with which you are interviewing.
Panel interviews are an opportunity to get to know and impress
several people at one time, avoiding the stress of several
separate interviews. Not all members of these panels are
evaluating your qualifications to perform the job; some
are evaluating your interest in the organization. In a panel
interview, it is important that you involve all of the interviewers
in each answer. Try to avoid addressing your answer only
to the individual that asked the question.