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How to Win the Interview

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” claimed an advertising campaign for Head & Shoulders shampoo in the 1980s. This still rings true today. In this article, you will find a few tips on how to make a positive impression on recruiters and land your dream job.

1. Before the interview: get ready to answer the questions Heading link

UIC students in class

Making discussion points for common interview questions can help you feel confident during the interview. Regardless of the job or industry, there are some common questions you can anticipate and prepare for.

  • Tell me about yourself.

It is important for the employer to know whether you have the skills and experience needed for the role. In order to put your best foot forward, you need to do your research on the position and company, then match your skills, interests, and professional background to the position.

Example: “I graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago, received a master’s degree in _ (program), was hired by _ (name) agency, where I worked with companies _ and clients _ (list your achievements). Then I realized that I want to continue developing in this direction.”

  • What are your weaknesses and mistakes? 

A person who is capable of recognizing his or her own mistakes and weaknesses shows a level of self-confidence and identifies where you need some improvement. Using an example from real experience is the best way to answer this question. Effective Stories use the S.T.A.R. Method:

S-situation (background information);
T-task (outline of action);
A-action (explain what you did);
R-result (share a positive outcome and lesson learned).

Example: Sometimes, I find it difficult to delegate a task to someone else when I am confident I can complete it on my own. Taking on the role of team leader in my former job, however, required me to learn how to delegate tasks. I developed a project management system called ASANA to keep track of a project’s progress, so I could feel in control when assigning tasks. As a result of this solution, I was able to increase the efficiency of my delegation. 

  • Why did you leave (are you leaving) your company?

Try to talk respectfully about the skills, responsibilities, and experience you gained from the previous employer. Avoid criticizing your former employer or colleagues. It is important to remove all emotions and focus only on the work’s essence.

Example: “I’ve already achieved results in the company (list), discussed growth prospects with the manager, and understand there will be no opportunities to gain vertical experience or gain experience in related projects. That’s why I started looking for another job with a bigger area of ​​responsibility.”

OR: “The company changed the position functionality: A project manager was hired and as a result, I had to perform the duties of an assistant manager. This is not exactly what I am interested in.”

  • Why do you want to work here?

The reason why you applied to this company will definitely come up during the interview. This question allows the recruiter to understand what you expect from the position and whether your values align with the company’s values. Give an explanation of why you believe you will be a good fit for the employer.

Example: “I have extensive experience in _ and _, so I can help the company achieve results in _. Also, I believe that my values are aligned with the company’s values because _”. 

2. Day of the interview Heading link

It is better to show up for the interview 10 minutes early and dress professionally. A smile and small talk will help you start a conversation with the interviewer.

During the interview, listen carefully, answer the question and be thorough. Show your interest in the company and be sure to ask at least a few questions: about the type of tasks, evaluations of your results, as well as the team and organizational aspects of the work.

3. After the interview Heading link

You should email each interviewer within 24 hours to thank them for their time. In your letter, reiterate your interest in the job. If you send a connection request on LinkedIn, the potential employer will also be able to evaluate your other achievements and professional connections.

Additional small tip: Heading link

Career Coaches in the Business Career Center are available for walk-in resume reviews and mock interviews Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Preparation will help you feel confident and convey your interest in the position. Good luck!