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Essential Interviewing Techniques – Alumni

Essential Interviewing Techniques

How to “Wow” the Hiring Manager and Human Resources Recruiter



  • Company mission, challenges
  • Position skills needed
  • Salary Range,
  • Attire professional, match industry standards
  • Location do a “test run” so there are no surprises


  • Conduct a self-assessment of your skills
    Personal, transferable and technical
  • Resume
    Know what you wrote
  • Match

    Employer Needs
      My Background*

    • Presentation skills


    • Chosen to design and deliver a PowerPoint presentation at the Trustee’s meeting due to strong communication skills
    • Proficiency in Excel


    • Utilized Excel to prepare purchasing spreadsheets that became a model for the organization

    *You may include volunteer experience, internships and part-time jobs in addition to full-time employment.


    Five Essential Questions: Prepare and practice to be able to answer each question in one minute
    Tell Me About Yourself, Strengths, Weaknesses, 5 Year Goals and Salary Requirements

    RULE#1: Be Honest! 

    1. “Tell Me about Yourself”

      Personal History – if it relates to the job you are applying to, for example, Early Childhood:
      “I grew up as the oldest in a family of nine and have always enjoyed children.”

      “I chose Pine Manor because…”

      Include related experience including, part-time jobs, projects, internships, volunteer activities if it relates to the job to which you are applying.

      Personal Characteristics
      Match characteristics to the job; for example,
      Psychology good listener, excellent problem solving skills
      Biology detail oriented, analytical
      “My coworkers describe me as…”

      “When I am not working I enjoy…”
      “I am Committee Chair in the ______ professional organization.”

    2. What Are Your Strengths?

      Match specific strengths to the job you are interviewing for (see the Preparation section). Give examples

      Note: Employers want flexible, adaptable employees

    3. What are your weaknesses?

      Reminder: Rule #1

      Consider an answer that will not take you out of the running for the job

      If you are applying to be a writer, don’t say, “I am bad in English.”
      Instead, say, “I have not had a lot of experience presenting, so I recently volunteered to present for my Alumni Association Board and I received a lot of positive feedback.”

    4. Where do you want to be in three to five years?

      Reminder: Rule#1

      “I want to continue to learn, attend graduate school for , contribute to the organization and hopefully be rewarded for my efforts.”

    5. How much salary do you want?

      Reminder: Rule#1


      The person who says money first loses!

      “What is the salary range for the position?”

      Then Listen! Respond to what they say accordingly. Do NOT object!
      Remember your salary research. Even if it is a lower amount than you were expecting, now is not the time to negotiate.
      You could say, “Although it is a bit lower than I anticipated, I am very interested in working for you and would like to continue our discussions.”



    DO NOT’s

    – Remember Rule#1   – Be late – Get to the appointment 10 minutes early   – Chew gum – Review your resume   – Fidget – Take 3 deep breathes before your interview   – Touch your cell phone (it’s a deal breaker) – Be yourself   – Wear perfume
    – Smile
      – Give out your reference list unless asked – Wear clean, business appropriate clothes
       -Take notes
    – Ask questions   – Give close ended answers (yes/no) – Bring your reference list
      – Ask about salary
    – Bring extra copies of your resume
    – Bring a pen and binder
    – Give specific examples
    – Show enthusiasm!    



    • “May I have a moment to think about that?”
    • “That is a good question…”
    • “Although I have not had that experience exactly, I have done…”
    • “Did I answer your question?”
    • “Let me make sure I am clear, are you asking __________?”


    1. Introduction

    • Smile from the moment you enter the building
    • Eye contact
    • Positive attitude in your tone of voice and body language
    • Put the interviewer at ease
      “Thank you for the directions, it was very easy to find.”

    2. Information Exchange


    Question Answer Question
    You are asked a question You answer the question Then you ask a question
    “Please give an example of your communication skills.”

    “I recently received an award from my employer for an article I wrote for Psychology Magazine that created positive publicity for the organization. What types of writing would I be doing in this position?”

    Ask Questions

    -When the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions?” The answer is YES! This is your chance to shine; you can show the prospective employer the research you conducted. “I understand that your company is launching a new product aimed at the youth market. How might this affect the job?”

    3. Close

    • Show enthusiasm with your tone and body language
    • Recap how your background meets their needs
    • Overcome any obstacles “I understand that you do not have much experience using a MAC. This may be a problem since we have only MACs in our office.”
    • Your response: “I have some experience using my sister’s MAC and I have recently ordered one for myself and am excited to learn all the tools.”
    • Ask, “Is there anything else you need to know about me before you make a decision?”
    • Next steps, “Where do we go from here?”
    • Follow up – Write individual Thank You letters (may be an email) to each person on the interview team. Below please see a Sample Letter.

    Sample Thank You After Interview Letter:

    400 Heath Street
    Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

    January 1, 2014

    Demetria Jones
    Massachusetts Department of Social Services
    100 Cambridge Street, Suite 333
    Boston, MA 02114

    Dear Ms. Jones:

    Thank you so much for speaking with me yesterday regarding the Communications Department Coordinator position. I walked away so excited and ready to roll up my sleeves and start work.

    Your description of the need for a person with a passion for social justice and desire to help others fits my values and aspirations. In addition to graduating from Pine Manor College with High Honors from the Social and Political Systems major, I realized I had forgotten to mention my college volunteer experience helping orphans in Haiti. I welcome the chance to use my customer service and strong administrative background as a part of your team.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions and I look forward to talking with you by the end of next week to follow up regarding the next steps.


    Patricia Manor