Preparing for Interviews
Preparing for Interviews
Make the connection
To ace behavioral interview questions, you should think ahead about the stories from your past experiences that best illustrate skills, knowledge, and abilities relevant to the job. However, you should spend even more time researching the employer. The more you know about what they do, how they do it, and what they value, the easier you will be able to select the right stories to tell. Most importantly, you will be able to connect your background directly with their needs.
Where to research
Doing your homework takes time, but taking notes from the following resources will pay off when you get to the interview:
- The employer website. Look in the “about” section to learn about their history, values, and strategic priorities (hint: look for links to strategic plans or annual reports). Also check out their news feeds to find out what big successes they’ve had and what they want the public to know about them.
- Google. A simple internet search will return a broader set of information about the organization’s performance, competitors, and challenges they are facing.
- Industry-related journals or websites. Every industry has a publication that’s a main source of news (e.g., the Wall Street Journal for the financial world, Science for scientific research). Identifying these media and scanning recent issues will give you a bigger picture of trends and issues impacting all employers in their field.
- People. Talking to current employees will quickly tell you about company culture, what abilities are most valued, or what questions you should anticipate in an interview. You can also consult with professionals who don’t work for the employer but are in the same field. Both provide insights you can’t get from other sources. Use Terrapins Connect or the alumni tool in LinkedIn to identify people in the University of Maryland network.
Similar to how you would study for an exam, it is important to study yourself before an interview. What are the top experiences you have that employers will be most interested in hearing about? Make sure those stories come through in your interview. Consider reflecting on the following:
- What are the top 3 experiences I want to make sure an employer knows about me before I leave the interview?
- What are my most relevant experiences to the employer and the job/internship? This can include class projects, part-time jobs, and other experiences.
- Why am I most interested in this employer? How can I get that interest across throughout the interview?
Practice talking about your stories out loud
You’re the one who experienced it; how do you explain it in a way an outsider will understand and appreciate? Look in the mirror and practicing sharing some of your stories out loud and have the outsider’s perspective in mind. How can you incorporate vivid descriptions to help the employer fully understand this experience and its impact? Utilize the STAR method when practicing these stories out loud to give the full picture:
- Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
- Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
- Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
- Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.