The Art of Interviewing: Starting with the Basics

As I conduct interviews with candidates for my organization’s summer internship program, this week, I am reminded of some essential interview “rules”.

The best possible interview scenario would include getting the questions ahead of time in order to prepare, however that almost never happens. Although some typical questions are asked during every interview.  The wording may not be exactly the same, but no matter what you are interviewing for, you should prepare to address:

1. Why do you want the position/internship/fellowship (insert what you are vying for here)?

2. What do you bring to the table?

Both questions require you to articulate your goals as well as who you are. Seems simple enough,  however people at all stages of career and life are stumped by these basic types of questions.

I bear witness to it each and every day.

Answering these questions is not simple, but is completely doable as long as you do the work. Start with the basics, think of what drew you to the position or opportunity in the first place – and it needs to be more than “I need the money”.

Review the position description with an eye for what excites you.  Incorporate this information into your interview answer.

Both questions also give you an opportunity to discuss your unique skills and experience.

Perhaps you want the role, in part to become proficient with the Adobe Creative Suite. You have some experience because you design wedding invitations for your friends, but you want to broaden your experience.  Letting the interviewer know that the position provides both big and small opportunities for you is important.  As an interviewer, I want to know that people are engaged in the role beyond simply the obvious opportunity provided by the position.

Finally, the second question is the ultimate “Know Thyself” question that allows for responses, which include information about skillset and personality.  While answers to this question are highly personal I can give you a few tips about what will make an interviewer’s eyes glaze over.

1. Every interviewee is passionate so don’t think that including that tidbit is unique. It’s cliché and is an easy way to sidestep the question.

2. Practice your responses out loud.  It is easy to think you have a great response, but hearing it out loud will help you know if your response makes sense and actually addresses the question.

3. Be honest. I am expecting to see whatever it is you promised me. If you say you will bring energy, I don’t want to deal with Eeyore every day.

Interviewing is an art and it takes time to figure out your style.

What strategies have you or do you plan to use in order to address the general questions above?

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