An interview is a conversation with a specific purpose:
For the employer, the purpose is to gather enough of the right kind of information about you to make a reliable prediction of how well you can do the job and fit into the organization. For the interviewee, the purpose is to make the most favorable impression possible while gathering enough information to decide whether or not you are interested in that employer.
The interview consists of several stages:
The initial interview - the "screening" interview narrows the field to several promising candidates and lasts about thirty minutes. Subsequent interviews - from a second interview to as many as six or seven contacts, may last as long as a day, may involve many members of the organization's staff in groups or consecutively, may necessitate travel to the home office, staying overnight, eating with interviewers, and taking achievement and personality tests.
Negotiation of terms - the final step if the employer decides to make a job offer. Salary, benefits, starting dates, location, training, is determined at this time.
Preparation for an interview
What employers look for in applicants:
Appearance - cleanliness and appropriate dress are musts. Check out the company, gallery, etc. prior to the interview. Dress better than the current employees. Be clean, fresh breath, tidy hair, clean attire. Cover tattoos if it seems appropriate to do so. Too much jewelry can sometimes be distracting. With some employers, appearance could be the deciding factor.
Personality and Style - be courteous, act with an appropriate mix of self-confidence and respect. Speak confidently and enthusiastically about past experiences and their relevance.
Articulate - you must be able to express yourself in fluent, grammatically correct language, use appropriate professional terminology, avoid slang and profanity, be concise and specific.
Energy/Drive/Ambition - energetic posture and movements, fresh appearance, a tone of physical and emotional health, enthusiasm and sense of purpose.
Positive Attitude - prudent optimism, a hopeful, confident view without going overboard. Don't complain about past employers, your school, or the weather. Don't whine. Don't criticize. Present positive information in a positive way. Don't offer negative information.
Thoughtful - Weigh a question a second or two before responding. Answering without hesitation can suggest that you have memorized answers or have a great deal of interview experience. Being thoughtful is not the same as being uncertain and insecure.
Composure - nail-biting, hair-twirling, foot-tapping, twitching, and avoiding eye contact are almost certain to destroy your image.
Leadership - a self-confident manner, carriage, good eye contact, and a smile. You must be sure of yourself to lead others. Implicit in this is that you inspire trust and are likeable.
Preparing your "short stories":
The premise of the behavioral interview is that the best way to predict future behavior is to determine past behavior. In this type of interview, you will be asked how you have done things in the past, providing details and specific examples.
The interviewer will ask a pre- worded question designed to stimulate recollection of a situation that would lead to a desired behavior. Some behaviors and characteristics employers may attempt to measure include: initiative, organizing, teamwork, flexibility, problem solving, motivation and leadership. To prepare for this type of interview:
Behavior-based Interview Questions:
General Interview Questions:
1. Tell me about yourself.
2. What are your hobbies?
3. Why did you choose to interview with our organization?
4. Describe your ideal job.
5. What can you offer us?
6. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
7. Can you name some weaknesses?
8. Define success. Failure.
9. Have you ever had any failures? What did you learn from them?
10. Of which three accomplishments are you most proud?
11. Who are your role models? Why?
12. How does your college education or work experience relate to this job?
13. What motivates you most in a job?
14. Have you had difficulty getting along with a former professor/supervisor/co-worker and how did you handle it?
15. Have you ever spoken before a group of people? How large?
16. Why should we hire you rather than another candidate?
17. What do you know about our organization (products or services)?
18. Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years?
19. Do you plan to return to school for further education?
20. Why did you choose your major?
21. Why did you choose to attend your college or university?
22. Do you think you received a good education? In what ways?
23. In which campus activities did you participate?
24. Which classes in your major did you like best? Least? Why?
25. If you were to start over, what would you change about your education?
26. Do your grades accurately reflect your ability? Why or why not?
27. Were you financially responsible for any portion of your college education?
28. What job-related skills have you developed?
29. Did you work while going to school? In what positions?
30. What did you learn from these work experiences?
31. What did you enjoy most about your last employment? Least?
32. Have you ever quit a job? Why?
33. Give an example of a time in which you worked under deadline pressure.
34. Give an example of a situation in which you provided a solution to an employer.
35. Have you ever done any volunteer work? What kind?
36. How do you think a former supervisor would describe your work?
37. Do you prefer to work under supervision or on your own?
38. What kind of boss do you prefer?
39. Would you be successful working with a team?
40. Do you prefer large or small organizations? Why?
41. What other types of positions are you considering?
42. How do you feel about working in a structured environment?
43. Are you able to work on several assignments at once?
44. How do you feel about working overtime?
45. How do you feel about travel?
46. How do you feel about the possibility of relocating?
47. Are you willing to work flextime?
48. What other types of positions are you considering?
Questions to ask employers:
The interview is a two-way street - you are also interviewing the employer to determine if you would like to work for them. Research the organization and go in prepared to ask questions. It shows your interest and also lets the employer know that you have done your homework prior to the interview.
Typical questions include:
1. What are the opportunities for personal and professional growth?
2. How is an employee evaluated and promoted?
3. Describe a typical day on the job.
4. What kind of qualities are you looking for in your new hires?
5. What makes your company or organization different from its competitors?
6. What characteristics does a successful person have at your organization?
Employers must ask questions that are related to the job. Various federal, state, and local laws regulate the questions a prospective employer can ask a job candidate.
Are you authorized to work in the U.S.?
Are you over the age of 18?
Are you able to perform the essential job functions?
Have you ever been convicted of______?
Would you be willing to travel, relocate, or work overtime if
If asked an illegal question you may:
Answer the question - remember that you are volunteering personal information that isn't related to job performance.
Refuse to answer - you run the risk of appearing uncooperative or confrontation. Examine the question for its INTENT - respond positively without revealing personal information. For example, "Do you have children?" Response: "My family is very supportive of my career and my family life will not interfere with my work performance."
Before an interview:
When a job is offered:
Informational Interviewing Tutorial
Background Information About Informational Interviews
Here’s a startling statistic: One out of every 200 resumes (some studies put the number as high as 1,500 resumes) results in a job offer. One out of every 12 informational interviews, however, results in a job offer. That’s why informational interviewing is the ultimate networking technique, especially considering that the purpose of informational interviewing is not to get job offers. Job offers just happen to be a delightful side benefit to this valuable practice.
Informational interviewing is just what it sounds like -- interviewing designed to produce information. What kind of information? The information you need to choose or refine a career path, learn how to break in and find out if you have what it takes to succeed. Informational interviewing is an expanded form of chatting with your network contacts. It’s the process of spending time with one of your network contacts in a highly focused conversation that provides you with key information you need to launch or boost your career.
The term "informational interviewing" was invented by Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the best-selling career guide of all time, What Color Is Your Parachute? Bolles refers to the process as "trying on jobs to see if they fit you." He notes that most people screen jobs and companies after they’ve already taken a job, while informational interviewing gives you the opportunity to conduct the screening process before accepting a position.
An informational interview is not the same as a job interview by any means, but it is probably the most effective form of networking there is. Terry Carles, a student recruitment counselor at Valencia Community College reports, "I teach Career Development, and my students are required to do an informational interview. Every semester, someone returns with a job, internship, etc., from their experience. One student completed an informational interview with a network administrator, and returned the next week with a $23,000 a year job offer."
When you are considering entering or changing to a certain career path, it just makes all kinds of sense to talk to people in that field. Yet most people never do. They trust their professors, textbooks, or romantic notions about professions gleaned from TV or movies. When you really think about it, you miss out on an incredible opportunity if you fail to research your career field by talking to people in it.
The best way to learn what you really want in a career is to talk with the people in that career field. Because of the exploratory nature of informational interviews, they are particularly effective for those, such as college students, who are just embarking on their careers. They are also an excellent tool for career-changers who want to find out what’s involved in the career they are considering entering. Even for those who don’t wish to change careers but do want to change jobs, informational interviews can be a helpful way of discovering what working for other companies would be like.
Potential Results of Informational Interviews:
You accomplish several things when you go out on informational interviews:
What if you are not sure about your career goals, or you feel that you lack relevant experience and knowledge to get the career position you want. One of the best ways to find out what an industry, company or position is really like is to talk with people in careers you are considering. Informational interviews can be a useful tool throughout your career, not just when you’re thinking about a new job or a new line of work. You can do informational interviews when you want to learn more about a certain career move or even what it would feel like to get involved in a new project like writing a book, starting a blog, or running your own company.
WHO TO INTERVIEW:
Finding people to interview can happen in a variety of ways. You can ask friends, colleagues, professors, and former employers to make introductions. You can also find people through the alumni network or a social networking site like LinkedIn.
Once you have found people to approach, you’ll need to contact them to see if they are interested in having a brief meeting or phone call. If someone rebuffs you at this stage, give up and try some other contacts. If a person is receptive, set up a meeting, keeping these few thoughts in mind:
1. The other person is doing you a favor, so it should be about what’s convenient for the interviewer, not you. Follow his or her lead as to whether meetings will be in person or by phone.
2. These meetings are not about asking for job leads; the point is to learn something. Think about informational interviews as a way to build a relationship and expand your network, not as a way to get a job.
3. Wait for the right time. So often we get a number and feel as if we should call immediately. But if you’re not ready, you may bungle a meeting. Why wouldn’t you be ready? When you’re overextended and it’s hard to find time on your calendar or if you haven’t done enough research about the industry or the company where the person works.
4. Don’t overstay your welcome. It’s always better to signal the meeting is ending and let the other person say he or she is open to continuing the discussion.
5. Finally, how do you make the most of these meetings? People who are successful at something (the reason you’re approaching them) are often pressed for time. So be respectful. Ask how much time the person has. But it’s safe to assume that a 20-minute phone call or a 30-minute meeting is a reasonable request.
BEFORE THE MEETING:
Preparation is the key to success. In advance of the meeting, you should prepare as you would for a traditional interview:
1. Read about the career area and organization in which the person you are interviewing is affiliated.
2. Check the company/organization’s Internet site.
3. Know your own interests, skills, and values and how they relate to the career field represented by the person you are interviewing.
4. Prepare an opening statement that gives a brief profile of who you are and your interest in the field.
5. Develop a number of well thought out, open-ended questions to stimulate a meaningful discussion.
6. If you meet face-to-face, dress appropriately in interview attire. You want to give a good first impression and look like someone who could be an asset to the profession.
7. Know what you want. Don’t expect the other person to set the agenda.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
1. Can you tell me how you got to this position?
2. What do you like most about what you do, and what would you change if you could?
3. How do people break into this field?
4. What are the types of jobs that exist where you work and in the industry in general?
5. Where would you suggest a person investigate if the person were particularly skilled at (fill in the blank — quantitative thinking, communications, writing, advocacy)?
6. What does a typical career path look like in your industry?
7. What are some of the biggest challenges facing your company and your industry today?
8. Are there any professional or trade associations I should connect with?
9. What do you read — in print and online — to keep up with developments in your field? 10. How do you see your industry changing in the next 10 years?
11. If you were just getting involved now, where would you put yourself?
12. What’s a typical day like for you?
13. What’s unique or differentiating about your company?
14. How has writing a book (starting a blog, running a company, etc.) differed from your expectations? What have been the greatest moments and biggest challenges?
AFTER THE MEETING
Make sure to properly give thanks, either by an e-mail or handwritten note. Also, be sure to follow up on what you said you would do. If you said you’d send an article, contact someone or do something, make sure to do what you said you would. If you want to continue the relationship, figure out how to stay in touch. If there was no chemistry, move on.
Know who you're interviewing with, what's coming up for the organization and what the job duties are. If you have questions, ask them. Employers will appreciate that you did your homework.
WHAT TO WEAR
It is better to err on the side of formality than informality. Dress appropriately for the industry and only slightly better than the people on the field do. Galleries are creative, professional environments. Most city, for-profit galleries are also extremely status-driven, so expect to impress with what you wear.
WHAT TO BRING
It should go without saying, but always bring a copy of your resume, list of references, a notebook and pen, pre-prepared questions, and your daily planner. Only include those pieces that you feel are your best work and are appropriate to the kind of job for which you are applying. This means that you might have to change your portfolio for different kinds of interviews and prospective employers. You will have to make some decisions about the focus of your portfolio. You may want to show the breadth of your talent and your ability to do many different things or you may want to focus your portfolio in a specialized area. Your chosen field and the specific kind of work for which you are applying will determine these decisions. And always be prepared to talk about your work and to have comments for all your pieces. Leaving your portfolio with someone can be potentially risky or rewarding. Despite the horror stories of lost or stolen work, “drop offs” may be the only way you can show your work. Use your instinct to determine if you can trust the person and if leaving your work will be of additional benefit. Remember, one of the purposes of an appointment is so that you and your portfolio can be seen together.
Employers are used to lackluster interviews; they’re used to sitting through a lineup of mediocre talent, and they’re waiting for someone interesting to come along. So be interesting! Express your opinions, project your voice, make jokes, make it an interesting conversation. The fact that you’re in the room at all means they liked your portfolio, you just need to show you’re smart and capable. So be yourself, pretend you’re talking to your friends. Handle yourself the way you would if you were working there on a day-to-day basis, because that’s what they need to see. If you have fun with it, and your work is good, you may have just landed yourself a job.
Your personality is an important part of the equation for an employer, especially if it's a small organization. You're going to be working in one another's back pockets. Often employers look for senses of humor, kindness and friendliness in applicants.
Beware of how your feelings and attitudes can be expressed visually. Use your skills to interpret the interviewer’s body language. Good eye contact and a firm handshake are only part of successful body communication. Posture, tone of voice, facial expression and hand movement also play an integral role.
ANSWERING THEIR QUESTIONS
Typical Interview Questions
• Tell me a little about yourself.
• Why did you choose to attend KCAI?
• What led you to choose your major field of study?
• What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
• How do you feel about your work being changed or modified?
• Can you work under pressure?
• Who was the worst person you ever worked for; why?
• Why are you interested in this position?
• Why are you interested in this firm?
• What is the greatest challenge you have had to face? How did you handle this situation? • What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
• What kind of decisions are most difficult for you?
• What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
• Is graduate education a future goal? When?
• What are you most proud of about yourself?
• Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?
• How do you feel about working in a team setting?
• What else should I know about you?
• I see many students with credentials similar to yours, why should I hire you?
Remember that you are being evaluated throughout the interview process and especially during “casual” conversations, lunches, etc. Federal laws, and some state laws restrict interviewers and require them to ask only questions that pertain to the job requirements. Inquiries about race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, and other matters not directly connected to job performance are not valid, or legal topics.
ASKING YOUR QUESTIONS:
Asking questions serves two purposes: first, to clarify issues or concerns you may have related to your potential employment, and second, to convey your interest in the position. Questions should never be gratuitous, but if you are really interested in a position, you can always think of something more that you would like to know about it. Prepare Your Questions Beforehand
• As I gain more experience, what opportunities might become available to me?
• Can you give me a little more detail regarding the specific job responsibilities? What do you think is the most challenging aspect of the job?