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Interview Skills



The purpose of an interview is to answer two main questions:

  • Am I a good fit for the organization?

  • Is the organization a good fit for me?

GOAL: Put your best foot forward and present an honest, authentic version of your best self.


What interviewers are looking for

  1. Come prepared: Do your due diligence to understand the organization and its values and reflect on your personal experience.

  2. Listen and answer thoughtfully: Listen attentively to the question and think carefully before providing an answer.

  3. Passion and ambition: Be able to show your motivation and ambition for pursuing this opportunity, and how the organization fits into your goals.

  4. Understand your strengths and weaknesses: Show the interviewers that you are mature enough to know your areas of improvement and can commend yourself for your skills.

  5. Soft skills: These are personal attributes that are difficult to convey in a resume but are important aspects of your personality. Interpersonal skills, problem solving, creativity, leadership, flexibility, organization, communication are some examples.

  6. Show your personality: Present your best self and be personable, likable and polite. This allows you to build rapport. Use your sense of humor to your advantage, but avoid sarcasm.

  7. Display confidence: Be confident in yourself and your abilities. However, do not be arrogant, and show humility.

Pre-Interview

Before your interview, here are some things to prepare for:

  1. Conduct research about the organization and its goals.

  2. Write down a response to "Tell me about yourself"

  3. Make sure you are professionally dressed

  4. Take care of your self physically and mentally

  5. Have questions to ask the interviewer

Virtual Interviews

  • Look presentable and professional

  • Make sure you test your microphone and webcam

  • Ensure that your background is not distracting

During Interview

It's important to also create a "during interview plan". A few things to keep in mind is waking up early, making sure you have enough time to get ready and commute to the location and be there early (at least 15 minutes). Also, make sure you bring any necessary documents for your interview (i.e resume, cover letter, forms etc.).

When answering questions, make sure to answer them fully but avoid rambling. It's typical to speak fast when nervous so remember to take pauses, slow down and relax. Other minor (yet important) things to keep in mind, mind your manners, ask insightful questions, mind your body language, say thank you, maintain eye contact, think before you speak, smile and give a firm handshake before and after the interview (if in-person).


Some situation questions to keep in mind are:

  • Tell me about a time when you experienced conflict with a supervisor/group member.

  • What do you do when you have too many competing responsibilities?

  • Give me an example of when you were a leader.


To make sure you answer situational questions appropriately, consider utilizing the STAR approach.

  • Situation: describe the situation you were in or task you needed to accomplish.

  • Task: Describe the challenges and expectations. What needed to be done? Why?

  • Action: Elaborate on your specific action. What exactly did you do and how did you do it?

  • Result: Explain the result including your accomplishments, recognition and the outcome.

To stand out, I also recommend mentioning the lesson you took from the situation and how you have or will apply it in the future. Click here for more about STAR.


Post- Interview

Developing a strong post-interview plan will help you remain focused on your objective and strengthen your skillset.


Firstly, never forget to thank the interviewer for their time and interest in you as a candidate. Tell them how much you enjoyed the interview process and that you look forward to hearing from them. This is not only the polite thing to do, but also allows you to leave a lasting positive impression with the interviewer.

Secondly, email the interviewer the next day to thank them again and keep in contact with them. This could mean that even if you don't get this particular position they may keep you in mind for another.

Most importantly reflect, but don't obsess over interview responses. It is very important to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your responses, but comparing them to other people's responses or agonizing over them will not help you hone your skills. Rather analyze your responses broadly, make a few simple and productive notes and move forward.

Following these three simple steps will help you remain calm and learn from the interview process.

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