Interviews are used for both full-time job and internship opportunities, as well as service, graduate/professional school and fellowship opportunities. They are perhaps the most significant part of the evaluation process.
Showcase your skills and qualifications
Demonstrate that you are a match for the position through specific examples of past experiences and/or your values and mission
Determine if the position/organization are a good fit for you
The Interviewer’s Goals:
If you have the skills to do the job
If you are motivated to do the job
If you are a fit with the organization’s culture
Steps on how to prepare (more on this later)
Know yourself and your qualifications
Analyze the position and know the responsibilities
Research the organization and industry
Practice your responses to common questions
Types of Interviews:
Resume/Traditional: This form of interviewing goes through your resume. Questions are about your education, prior work experience, and activities. It is very straightforward. Be ready with examples.
Behavioral Interviewing (Most Common): Based on the principle that the best way to predict future behavior is from past behavior, behavioral questions typically begin with “tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of when…” You should utilize the STAR technique (below) to describe how your specific experiences relate to the job.
Analytical: Analytical interviews evaluate a candidate’s ability ot analyze problem, ask questions and propose potential solutions, They are focused on determining how a candidate thinks.
Situational: Some companies, especially those in consulting, finance, or tech, are concerned not only with your experience but also with your ability to address complex problems and reach logical conclusions. The emphasis here is on your thought process; there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer.
Technical: Companies in financial services, accountancy, technology, engineering or science may ask questions related to academic coursework or concepts (e.g. programming skills) and/or industry knowledge.
Letter to shareholders
Company history and mission
Products/line of business
Stock price/trends; PE ratio
News Articles/Recent Announcements
Relative size in industry market
Industry trends and facts
Resources: ReferenceUSA, IBISWorld, Business Insights Essentials, Business Source Complete, Mergent Online
Mission and services
How the organization refers to its constituents
Executive Director, CEO or President on all levels
Income and assets; sources of funding and percentage or each to overall funds
Local, regional, national and world aspects of the organization
Size of local and/or national organization
Volunteer structure and size
Board of Directors
Partnerships with community, other agencies and organizations, corporations
Initiatives, achievements, and impact measures from the Annual report.
Current size, numbers served, number or employees within the nonprofit sector
Sector trends and current economic state
Resources: Idealist, National Council of Nonprofits, GuideStarr, National Center for Charitable Statistics, Nonprofit Career Core Competencies.
Public service mission
Top positions titles and names in agency
Level of government at which the agency functions (city, state, federal)
Branch of government
Size and jurisdiction of office and parent agency
Political appointments, elected and hired positions within the agency
Partnerships with nonprofit organizations
Contracts and business relationships with for-profit organizations
Relationships of government agencies to other government departments or agencies.
Resources: Index of US Government Departments and Agencies, The Guardian Public Sector Careers, Government Executive News, GoGovernment, Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.
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The STAR technique provides a concise and thorough framework for organizing responses to behavioral interview questions. Describing specific experiences adds credibility to your responses regarding your qualifications for the opposition. Begin analyzing and identifying themes within the job description. Then reflect on your experiences to identify examples of when you demonstrated the skills, qualities and knowledge required for the position. You should draw from classroom, extracurricular, volunteering, and job/internships experiences. Think about what skills you can highlight with each example as well as the questions for which you can use each example.
SITUATION Describe the context of the situation - class project, student org, volunteer, job
TASK Describe the task of your specific role: goal, problem to be solved, improvement etc.
ACTION Describe the actions you took - planning, implementation
RESULT Describe the outcomes of your action - impact, influence, change
Situation: During my senior year, I was president of a student club, I was working on my thesis, and I was working part-time. I had so much on my plate that I became overwhelmed. Task: I realized that I would need to be really organized and ask for help or I would get burned out. Action: I started keeping a detailed calendar and task list that let me see everything that was due so I would be prepared. And I started delegating some of the club tasks to other officers. I realized that would help me and give them practice for next year after I’ve graduated. Results: Those things helped me stay on top of my commitments and maintain my grades, and I made the Dean’s List. Bonus: I learned that you have to address stressful issues before they get out of hand. And I learned it's OK to ask for help.
In what ways has this organization been most successful in terms of products/services over the past several years compared to your competitors?
What challenges and opportunities do you see over the next two years regarding growth?
What kind of changes do you expect to see over the next two to three years
Could you talk about the key data that drives goal setting and strategic planning?
How would you describe the culture or the organization?
Does your organization encourage its employees to pursue additional education?
How do you feel my style will complement the team culture?
How is employee performance evaluated during the training period?
As an [position] what kind of projects will I receive?
What characteristics describe individuals who are successful in this positions?
What are key deliverables and outcomes that this position must achieve?
What you wear to an interview should make you feel comfortable and confident while projecting an image that matches the requirements of the position and organization. For business professional clothing black, grey and navy two piece suits, dresses, slacks are expected with nice shirts/blouses and professional shoes (like heels). For business casual attire nice slacks or pants are acceptable with a nice button down shirt or blouse. Flats, heels, and loafers are advisable.
A thank you note restating your interest in the position and the organization should be sent within 24 hours of each interview, to each person with whom you spoke. Some companies and hiring managers do not expect this, however, it rarely hurts to show your interest in the position in this way. Reference something you discussed during the interview. Take no further action until at least one week beyond the date when they said they would contact you. At that time a phone call to see if a decision has been made is appropriate.
Thank you note example:
Analytical interviews evaluate a candidate’s ability ot analyze problem, ask questions and propose potential solutions, They are focused on determining how a candidate thinks.
Most companies are looking for three things: (1) an analytical mindset, (2) communication skills, and (3) potential for growth.
How to succeed in an analytical interview
Think out loud. Analytical interviews are focused on your thoughts process, so interviewers want to hear what your thinking, what information is standing out to you,, and any considerations and assumptions you’re making.
Consider all the information provided. Analyze and understand every component of the question and provided information before fully answering the question.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. You may not always have every piece of needed information. Always ask, interviewers want to know what you would do, and if that’s gathering more information that is perfectly acceptable.
Support your answer. Supporting your answer with evidence and your thought process can be more important and telling than you’re actual answer.
Don’t let the question distract you. Sometimes analytical interviews have complex and unfamiliar questions, this is meant to evaluate how you would tackle a new problem. Focus on what you do know and ask build from there–this can include asking questions!
Technical interviews are common during the recruitment process for roles that require specific skills, like computer science, data analysis, and software engineering. Broadly speaking, most technical interviews will include: (1) a behavioral descriptive interview (BDI), (2) analytical algorithms/coding section, and (3) a predictive modeling case study.
Companies are typically looking for an analytical mindset, communication skills, and the potential for growth.
How to succeed in the technical interview
Focus on the details. Be prepared to talk in detail about the technical skills and knowledge listed on your resume.
Stick to what you know best. Code in the language you’re the most comfortable in, if that’s R, Python or SQL.
Tell–not just show–your work. Demonstrate that you are able to explain your techniques and thought process while working through a coding situation.
Invite collaboration while you work. The interview should be interactive, so talk through what you are thinking. Your interview team does not expect you to get to a perfect solution right away and is prepared to help you work through the problem together.
Ask clarifying questions. You may need more information and that’s okay!
Don't rush. Take time and even take notes if you feel it’s necessary.
Behavior interviews are the typical interview set up, which we described above. Situational interview are similar but instead of concrete past examples asked about in the behavioral interview, situational interviews mainly focus on theoretical scenarios. For example:
“How would you handle a project with a tight deadline?”
“What would you do if you were on the phone with an upset customer?”
These questions allow you to showcase quick thinking and problem solving skills.
How to succeed in the situational interview
Remember that there are no right or wrong answers. Be honest about how you would handle a situation because it will help the employer (and you!) determine if the job is a good fit for you.
Know what to expect. Practicing beforehand is paramount to ensure you’re successful in these interviews. Contact OPCD and ask for a mock interview. We’ll help curate questions to ensure you’re prepared.
Tell a story. Just like with behavioral interviews, narrative formats are the best way to convey your answers. You can tie in your experience around handling a similar situation when answering the hypothetical scenario presented to you.
How to use the STAR Method in an situational interview
Recall that STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result.
SITUATION Describe how you view the hypothetical situation.
TASK Describe what you see as the task for this situation
ACTION Describe the actions you would take - planning, implementation
RESULT Describe the outcomes of your action you’d like to achieve - impact, influence, change