SECC remote services update
The team at the Student Employment & Career Centre are working remotely and continue to be available to serve you. It is our goal to support our students, alumni, faculty, and employers from our remote locations with minimal disruption.
If you have any questions regarding our services please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you within one business day.
Do interviews give you the jitters? InterviewTalks give you a chance to meet with one of our friendly staff and join a group of your peers to:
- Discuss tips for how to ace the interview
- Answer questions you may have
- Practice answering interview questions
- Learn from others’ experiences
Mock Interviews are 30 minutes one-on-one appointments. If you have little experience interviewing, have not interviewed recently or are nervous about the interviewing process, a Mock Interview can help. Book a Mock Interview to:
- Practice answering common interview questions
- Receive immediate feedback on your answers and access helpful resources to prepare for your interview
- Get advice on how to best prepare for interviews
We strongly recommend that you attend an InterviewTalk prior to booking a Mock Interview (see above).
Mock Interviews are available free of charge to all newly admitted and current students, and alumni of USask.
Note: In order to accommodate all students and alumni, please limit your registration to 2 Mock Interviews per academic term. The SECC does not conduct mock MMIs or mock CaRMS interviews.
Preparing for the Interview
The purpose of the interview is to determine whether you are right for the job and whether the job is right for you; think of the interview as a conversation between you and the employer where you are both learning about each other. Most interviews are wither one-on-one or in a panel setting with multiple interviewers.
- Reflect on your personal interests, skills, qualifications and goals; this will enhance your ability to communicate how and why you would be a good fit for the position
- Do your research on the organization and the position so that you can better respond to questions asked of you in the interview and so that you can clarify anything that you do not understand
- Read and re-read your resume and be prepared to use a variety of examples
- Practice and review a variety of questions either on your own or with a friend; register for InterviewTalks or a mock interview at the Student Employment and Career Centre (SECC)
- Reconnect with your references to update them on the position you are interviewing for, and ensure they each have a copy of your resume
- Dress one step above the appropriate attire for the job; pay attention to personal grooming, and ensure you do not wear heavily scented products
Practice and Polish
- Know how to talk about your skill set, particularly as they relate to the specific job you are interviewing for
- Understand the eight Career Readiness Competencies
- Understand the competencies specific to your area of study
- Practice describing these skills and focus on providing evidence
- Knowing how you will answer questions will help you to feel and appear more confident, but if you are stumped on a question don't be afraid to ask the interviewer to clarify or repeat the question, or ask to come back to it
- Develop a strategy to deal with inappropriate questions such as those that pertain to your nationality, age, religious affiliation, political views, gender, etc. Your options are:
- Answer the question by addressing what you believe are the underlying concerns
- Ask for clarification on how the information being asked relates to the position
- Politely indicate that you are not comfortable answering the question and ask if there is an underlying concern that you may be able to address
- Answer the question to the extent you are comfortable with
- Reconnect with your references to update them on the status of the position for which you are interviewing
- Polishing up your communication skills is essential to effectively showcasing your skills and abilities during the interview; knowing specific language can be helpful
10 Essential Interview Questions
You should be prepared to answer these common and challenging questions at every interview:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your short term and long term goals and how does this position fit with them?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What are your three greatest strengths?
- What interests you about the position and the work?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why are you leaving your current position?
- How has your past experience prepared you for this role?
- Why shouldwe hire you?
- What kind of salary are you expecting?
Potential Questions to Ask at the Interview
It is important to come prepared with questions that you will ask at the interview to help you better
understand the position and to show the interviewer(s) that you are interested and knowledgeable
about their organization
- What do you love most about working here?
- How did you come to work here?
- Why is this a good place to work?
- How long have you been at the company and what makes you stay?
- Tell me about your most successful recent hire, and what qualities make them stand out?
- Tell me about the character of your employees.
- Who are the key staff that I will be working with?
- How would you describe the work environment and corporate culture?
- What do you see as the potential challenges or threats that will impact this work?
- How will I measure my own performance so I know I'm having a positive impact on this
- Are there succession documents in place?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- When will a decision be made?
- Are there any skills or attributes that I have not addressed that would improve my candidacy?
What to bring
- extra copies of your resume
- a list of your references
- letters of recommendation (if you have them)
- questions that you have prepared to ask at the interview
- a business folder including paper and a pen
What to wear
- Dress appropriately
- Pay attention to personal grooming.
- Arrive at least 10-15 minutes prior to the interview.
- Be sure to factor in time to find the place if you have not been there before, as well as time for parking and for freshening up.
- Being early reflects your interest.
During the interview
- Be friendly and courteous from the moment you arrive.
- Address the employer by their formal name (i.e. Mr. Job or Ms. Employer).
- Remember to be aware of your non-verbal communication (see above).
- Take a deep breath to focus and provide clear, concise answers; remember the interviewer was in your shoes at one point as well!
- Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat a question or ask if you can come back to a question if you need additional time to prepare your answer.
- If you are asked about your weaknesses, turn them into a potential strength or explain how you have learned to compensate for the weakness; think of a weakness as a challenge to overcome by identifying how you are specifically working on it.
After the interview
Analyze the interview
Reflect on how you felt the interview went and identify areas where you feel you could improve. What questions did you find difficult? Consider writing down the questions that the interviewer asked so that you can practice your answers to them in the future
Follow up with the employer
Send a thank you note or email within 48 hours indicating your interest in the position; if after reflecting on your interview, you wanted to clarify any responses, you may do so briefly in this note or email.
Check the status
Once the timeframe they provided you with has lapsed.
The purpose of the interview is to determine whether you are right for the job and whether the job is right for you; think of the interview as a conversation between you and the employer where you are both learning about each other. Most interviews are either held on-on-one or in a panel setting with multiple interviewers.
- Basic/Traditional – typically include open-ended questions designed to get to know you better
- Behavioural Based – builds upon the premise that future performance is best predicted by past behaviour; questions focus on real-life experiences and actions One technique for formulating strong answers to behavioural questions is the STAR technique.
- SITUATION | Provide a brief overview of the situation
- TASK | Outline the specific task or responsibility that you were asked to accomplish
- ACTION | Explain the action or activities you took and why
- RESULT | Describe the positive result or outcome of your actions; if you are asked about a negative situation, indicate what you learned and/or how you would act differently
- Case Style – allows interviewers to see how you respond to situations that may arise, especially those that require problem solving; can be done individually or in a group setting; critical thinking, creativity and presentation are the most important skills to showcase
- Assessment/Testing – this can be administered prior, during or following an interview; they can be used as an assessment tool or to complement your interview
- Second and Subsequent Interviews – once you get to the second interview you are one step closer to receiving the job offer; the second interview can be more intense as you may meet with more people involved in the hiring decision; they may be longer and you may need to travel
- Telephone/Teleconference – one job seeker and one or more interviewers over the phone; these can be used as screening tools to narrow down a pool of applicants; the challenge is to gain rapport with the interviewer when you cannot see their non-verbal reactions and cues nor can they see your enthusiasm or appearance; speaking confidently and clearly is of utmost importance
- Presentation – job seeker is asked to prepare a presentation (usually in advance) which is then presented
- Reception/Dining – one or more job seekers and one or more interviewers; conducted over a meal or beverages
- Group – groups of candidates are placed together during the interview process and are observed with regards to their ability to network, role play and stand out from other applicants
- Role Play – the job seeker participates in a fictional situation which replicates a scenario that might occur in the position sought
- Video Conference (Skype) – one job seeker and one or more interviewers with interview via camera and monitor; be sure to check your webcam and microphone prior to your interview and ensure that the space you are in is free of distractions
- You’ll want to establish a positive rapport with the interviewers within the first few minutes; be friendly, smile, make eye contact and make sure you have a firm handshake
- Interviews often begin with a few minutes of small talk to help break the ice
- Remember the PAWS acronym when answering the “Tell me about yourself” question
P - Personal
A - Academics
W - Work experience
S - Skills
- The length of the questions section of the interview can vary quite a bit and may include a variety of different types of questions to assess your knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviour
- During the final phase, the closing, interviewers will typically explain next steps in the hiring process and ask you if you have any questions for them
- Interviewers will typically explain next steps in the hiring process and ask you if you have any questions for them; have some prepared.
Preparing for the Interview
- Can you comfortably articulate your values, skills, abilities and interests as they relate to the position and company you are interviewing with?
- Did you perform an adequate amount of research on the prospective employer?
- Have you prepared knowledgeable and insightful questions to ask at the interview?
- Did you familiarize yourself with the various interview types?
- In order to prepare yourself for a behavioural based interview, did you familiarize yourself with the STAR technique?
- Have you reviewed possible questions interviewers might ask and prepare responses to them?
- Do you know what strategy you will use to approach inappropriate questions?
- Is the outfit you’ve chosen to wear clean and well pressed? Did you shine your shoes?
During the Interview
- Did you arrive at least 10-15 minutes early for your interview?
- Were you friendly and courteous, even from the moment you arrived?
- Did you address the employer by their formal name (i.e. Mr. Job or Ms. Employer)?
- Did you answer the employer’s questions using the STAR format when appropriate?
- Did you reference the job posting or the organization as it relates to your background, skills, values or abilities?
- Did you sit up straight and speak clearly?
- Did you shake the employer’s hand with a firm grip while making eye contact?
Following the Interview
- Did you follow up with the employer to send a thank you note or email within 48 hours?
- Did you contact the interviewer directly to check on the status of the position within seven days?
The Student Employment and Career Centre (SECC) is here to assist you with all aspects of your career and job search.
The SECC offers:
- Job postings
- ResumeTalks - develop and discuss your job search documents
- Career Coaching - talk about your career choices and goals and identify the direction you need to take
- InterviewTalks and Mock Interviews - develop, practice and polish your interview skills
- Career Assessments - understand yourself so you can establish clear career goals and make informed career decisions
- CareerMeetUps - opportunities to find out more about specific industries directly from employers
- Employer Sessions - detailed information about key employers before major application deadline