Interviewing Preparation

As you begin to prepare, remember that an interview is essentially a conversation between two people to determine mutual fit. At the end of the conversation the interviewer should be able to determine whether or not you are able to perform the responsibilities required for the job, internship, fellowship or program and you will be able to determine whether or not the organization and role are the right next steps for your talents, taking into consideration your interests, academics and career aspirations.

 

Do Your Research

Research the company. Learn as much as you can about the field, the company/organization, and each person you will be meeting with. Do a google search on the company, read about the industry in news articles and blogs, and look up the individuals that you will be meeting on LinkedIn. You are able to access additional industry and career guides, such as Wellesley’s GoinGlobal and Vault.com on Handshake as well as information on your specific career community. Lastly, explore joining student or professional organizations either on or off campus to learn about your field from fellow members and networking events.

Attend Wellesley Recruiting Events & Career Fairs
Check the “Events” section in Handshake frequently to see which organizations and programs are coming to campus to host information sessions, coffee chats, employer panels, prep sessions and workshops or recruit on campus at a boutique career fair. Meeting a recruiter in person to learn about an organization or available positions is a great way to ask questions, build connections, and stay in touch.

Research the Company, Industry & Attend On-Campus Events:

☐ Read online and hard copy newspapers, magazines, blogs in your target industry.

☐ Join professional organizations to learn about your field from fellow members and events.

☐ Read company and organization websites and LinkedIn profiles.

☐ Use professional directories, the Vault guides, etc – available in the Handshake Resources library.

☐ Attend company informational meetings, meet with representatives, ask questions, and stay in touch.

☐ Read recent news articles regarding mergers/acquisitions, awards,accomplishments, new products, leadership changes, competitors.

Research the role. Become familiar with the position description, specific responsibilities and skill set required. This information will give you clues as to what the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate and what they will want to focus talking about during the interview. You can also use this information to start connecting your own background, skill sets, as well as experiences and distinct qualifications that are relevant to the employer’s specific company needs.

Carefully review job description for:

☐ Skills, education, qualifications

☐ Travel requirements

☐ Compensation/benefits

☐ Daily responsibilities, long term goals

Research yourself — your interests, strengths, and goals. Conduct a self-assessment by reviewing your resume, take stock of skills developed both inside and outside the classroom, as well personal accomplishments, honors or awards. Know your resume and be prepared to address any questions you know will arise regarding your background. If something is on your resume, it is fair game to be asked about in an interview.

Ask yourself some key questions:

  • What are your skills, interests, and values?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Of what accomplishments are you most proud?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your goals?
  • Describe your personality.

 

Practice

Practice describing your background and accomplishments concisely and positively. You should think of this process as communicating your personal pitch. In creating your pitch, try putting yourself in the employer’s shoes and incorporate experiences that the employer would want to know about you. Additionally, it will help to prepare 3 – 5 accomplishment stories using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) framework to use in answering behavioral questions (covered later in this guide) and explaining key skills you will bring to the role.

In thinking about approaching your interview practice, it may be helpful to keep the following questions in mind and start developing your responses. Remember, an interview is a conversation so you will also need to ask relevant questions to the employer that demonstrate your understanding of the role, company, or industry trends. Take a look at both sets of questions below before you begin your practice. A more thorough explanation of the types of questions that may be asked are covered in the Proficiency section.

 

Sample Questions: Employer to Candidate

  • How would your friends/colleagues describe you?
  • What do you think is the most critical public issue of our time?
  • What challenges does this position present?
  • How do you react to pressure?
  • Why this organization? Why this role?
  • Are you comfortable working with all levels in this organization?
  • How do you like to be managed?
  • What is not on your resume that you would like us to know about you?
  • What do you like to do outside of work?
  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What could we do better or differently here?
  • What motivates you?
  • How would your friends/colleagues describe you?
  • With competing priorities, how do you determine which you do first? Which one gets most of your attention?

 

Sample questions: Candidate to Employer

  • What would you identify as the most important skills for the person in this role to have?
  • With whom would I be interacting in the company/community in this role? Can you share the team structure?
  • How would you describe your company/organization culture?
  • Which industry trends do think will most affect this firm’s strategy?
  • What are the most exciting opportunities for this company?  What are the most frustrating challenges?
  • What do you love about working here?

Make an appointment with your College Career Mentor or Career Community Advisor for assistance in self assessments, reviewing your resume or creating your personal pitch.

 

Mock Interviews

Do a mock interview (with a Career Community Advisor, College Career Mentor, friend, or family member). At the very least, practice the answers to some commonly asked questions out loud. You can even record yourself on your smartphone which will give you immediate feedback.

Assess your use of filler words: “like,” “you know,” “um,” “sort of,” “kind of.” Work on reducing your frequency because they detract from what you are trying to communicate.

Informational Conversations, Leverage the Wellesley Hive
The Wellesley Hive is a connecting and networking platform designed specifically for Wellesley students and alumnae. The Hive is a place where students can ask questions, seek career guidance, and connect with peers and Wellesley alumnae. You are able to reach out to alumnae to conduct informational conversations about your field or company of interest. Although asking alumnae for an informational interview should be part of your research plan, please do not reach out to alumnae until you have done some initial research on your own interests and skills and have a good idea about what you would like to ask and why. Once you have given these areas some thought, below are steps you can take in setting up this conversation.

 

Practice, Practice, Practice

  • Review lists of interview questions (covered in this section and in the Proficiencies section)
  • Consider doing mock interviews with friends, family or a career education counselor
  • Connect with alumnae on The Hive for an Informational Conversation
  • Prepare key points for basic questions
  • Practice OUT LOUD, record yourself

The work you do in preparing will enable you to make a strong first impression in your presentation. The more you know, the better you will be able to relate your experience to the role and the more insightful your questions will be.