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Job interviews 101: Before the interview

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Great news! They got your resumé, you got the call. Now what?

A job interview can be the most exciting and nerve-wracking part of advancing your career. Let’s get practical with some advice from the experts in Career Advancement Services. Check out part one of a three-part series featuring tips for before, during and after the interview.

Before the interview

The more you know

Almost always you’ll be asked what you know about the company, why you want to work there and what makes you a good fit. You should be able to answer without hesitation.

Know the basics — what they do, products, services — plus, find out if they’re doing something new and interesting and how you can relate that to what you’re studying. Also, ask who will be on your interview panel and look them up. 

Show you’re a pro – no matter where you are

If you’re meeting with an employer for a virtual interview or attending a webinar, makes sure you practice good virtual etiquette to prove you’re a pro when it comes to working remotely.

  • Test your technology ahead of time – make sure your webcam and microphone are working properly.
  • Make sure you have a strong internet connection to avoid interruptions.
  • Mute your microphone if you’re in a large meeting until you need to speak.
  • Use a quiet space, free from distractions.
  • Dress appropriately, just as you would in an in-person setting.
  • Have lighting come from the front, not behind you.
  • Make sure your background is professional and non-distracting.
  • Stay seated during the interview.
  • Close any unnecessary tabs from the browser in case of screen sharing.

Practice makes better

Interviewing is a skill and takes practice. Do a practice interview for every actual interview — a week before is great. The day before is great too. 

Axe the anxiety

Being prepared can definitely help with anxiety. About a day before the interview, write down a bunch of stories related to questions you think will come up. Use the STARS strategy as an outline:

  • Situation: Set the scene. What happened, when and where? Who was involved? Choose an example from work, school or a volunteer experience.
  • Task: How were you involved in the situation? What was your responsibility?
  • Action: What action did you take? Focus on what you did, even if it was a team effort.
  • Result: What was the end result? Did you learn anything from that experience? If you made a mistake, what measures have you taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again?
  • Skills: What skills did you use to accomplish the task and achieve the result?

These stories will stay in your short-term memory for about a day.

Career advice from a classmate

“It’s good to start preparing for a job early. My first semester, I thought you just applied and got it. I started working on my co-op application in July and didn’t get the position until December.

I also thought my resumé was good until I went to a resumé lab and realized it wasn’t. Now I update it based on the description of every role I apply for.”

Mariam Adeleke
Third-year Bachelor of Applied Technology Petroleum Engineering student

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