College of Agriculture & Natural Resources

Interviewing Tips

Interviewing Tips

Tell me about yourself.

This is a seemingly simple request that every person going into an interview should be able to answer. However, this can trip up many people. Remember the key elements to an interview. Know yourself, both strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to give what is essentially a commercial about you that highlights your qualifications and what you can do for the company. The interview is essentially an audition, so rehearse these lines. But also remember that the interview is a conversation, so do not rattle off facts and what would appear to be prepackaged lines. The key is remaining calm and confident throughout the interview so that you may convince the employer that you are the best candidate.

Your resume and job qualifications have already gotten you to the interview stage. Most employers want to get an idea of what kind of person you are and if you are the right choice for their company. This means that every gesture and word you make will be greatly scrutinized. Therefore there are certain things you should keep in mind before, during, and after the interview.

  • Before:
    • Always make sure you arrive at least 5 to 15 minutes ahead of time.
    • Always dress professionally to your interview, regardless of what you think the dress code of the workplace might be.
    • Once again know who you are and be prepared for what is essentially an audition. Be calm, collected, and confident. Maintain eye contact with the employer and be sure to shake their hand.
    • A common mistake is forgetting to research a company. Remember, the employers are taking the time and effort to get to know you, so it is only fair that you take the time to learn the basics of the company you are applying to. Research basic facts such as: What does the company do? How many employees does the company have and how is it expanding? What competitors does the company have? What is the company's history? Most companies have a website where this information will be readily available. Think about what you expect to do in this company and where you would fit in.
  • During:
    • Remember, the employer wants to get a feel for who you are. Be aware of your actions. This means being mindful of keeping eye contact, your tone of voice, the way you are seated, and so forth.
    • Communication skills are key to the interview. Be attentive and when its time to speak do so clearly and concisely. Be careful with your words - your goal is to convince the employer that you are well versed in the skills required to perform the job you are applying for.
    • Be sure to not only answer the employer's questions, but to ask plenty of questions as well. This shows that you are both interested in the position and have researched the company, if you ask the right questions. A list of potential questions can be found on the University's Career Center website. However, be careful what kinds of questions you ask, as particular questions are considered inappropriate to the interview.
  • After:
    • Send a thank you letter or email to the employer/s. This shows your continued interest in the position and presents another positive aspect of your personality to the employer. In some cases, this could be a deciding factor in who the employer will actually hire.
    • Consider the interview a learning experience. Be able to identify what went wrong and what went right. If you don't get the job, you'll know what to fix the next time around.

There is no telling what the employer will ask; however, you can count on certain themes to pop up, such as the standard "Tell Me About Yourself". Employers will want to know about both your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your best qualities, but don't embellish or lie. There is a variety of formats in which interviews are conducted. Among the most common are Traditional Interviews, Behavioral-Based interviews, and Case Interviews. Be prepared for anything. Know yourself and know the company you're applying to. This cant be stressed enough. The University of Maryland Career Center holds a list of various expectationsthat United States employers expect from their employees. These points are critical when coming into a job interview. They can be found at the Career Center Website.

For more information regarding job search preparation such as Researching Employers, Resumes and Letters, Interviewing, Job Search Strategies, Networking and more, visit the University of Maryland Career Center.

Portions of information from this tips page were based on information from the University of Maryland Career Center web site.

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