By Kiernan King, Toppel Peer Advisor
Interviews are a necessary component of the job application process and Toppel offers a service to help make that process run a tad smoother; The Mini Mock Interview. To obtain one, simply come to the office for walk-in advising and meet with a fantastic peer advisor or graduate assistant. Getting ready for Medical School? Preparing for Graduate School? Hoping to land your dream job? We offer mock interviews in all of these areas Monday through Friday 10am – 4:30pm.
Interviews will always begin with the dreaded, “Tell Me About Yourself” question. To answer such, one must stay relevant and keep the answer professional. Consider these five easy steps:
- Be Gracious. (Thank them for taking the time out of their day to meet with you)
- “My name is ____.” It’s never a bad idea to remind the employers who they’re potentially hiring.
- “I’m originally from…” Geographic relevance goes a long way and is one of the easiest ways to connect with someone.
- Use connecting words. “I’m currently a _____ at _____.” Here you can list your title and where your most recent and relevant experience comes from.
- “And this is what I do…” The final step is the trickiest yet most important. Here you need to explain step 4 with a brief example of why they should consider hiring you over someone else.
Remember, the elevator pitch should be less than three minutes. Be careful not to overdo it. Be articulate, use general phrases. Your rhetoric and ability to summarize will be graded here.
- “What do you know about our company?” The easiest way to answer this question: research, research, research! Gather all of the information you can because it will show the employer you’re truly interested in working there which will also impress them. If the least you do is read their Wikipedia page, you’ll know that much more about that company. Also see if you can find a story about the company in your local newspaper. Information on current events can give you a leg up on the competition.
- You will be challenged on your previous experiences. Not only do you need to research the company, but be sure to go back through your own résumé and remind yourself of the many experiences you’ve had, your responsibilities there, and what you accomplished. Be sure to “flip” any negative aspects about these positions into positive ones.
- Be sure to highlight your interpersonal skills. These can always be backed up by hard skills listed on your résumé, but in order for your personality to really shine you need to refer to examples of how you positively impacted a colleague, peer or client.
- Midway through the interview we may pause and asses the number of “ums” and “likes” said. This critique is only to help you avoid saying these words and to get you feeling comfortable with a little bit of natural silence. A note about your body language may be mentioned as well.
- When employees ask you about your strengths, a good formula to go with is to start with a word. Turn that word into a sentence and then make that sentence become a story. Avoid cliché answers and be sure to say a skill for a weakness and not personality traits because skills can be taught and adjusted more easily than habits.
IMPORTANT: have a minimum of 3 questions to ask an employer at the end of an interview! One can be an overarching question, one can be related to what they find rewarding/challenging and one may be about opportunities for growth within the company, for example. Be sure to never ask anything personal.
Final tips: invest in resume paper and bring about 5 copies to an interview, go easy on the cologne, perfume, practice a firm handshake, be sure to iron your shirt and know how to tie a tie! While dressing professional is not required here, if you choose to do so we can offer a note or two on your outfit.
Don’t approach this mock interview, or any interview, like a test that you studied for the night before. You don’t want to sound rehearsed and the best thing to do is be yourself. The peer advisors and graduate assistants will listen to your answers and will provide honest feedback. Come see us, we don’t bite!