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Tips for a Successful Interview.
To make a good impression at an interview: Do your research, rehearse, then relax.
Practice ahead of time with sample questions and different interview styles.
During the interview, be tactful, courteous, sincere, polite and knowledgeable about the organization and what
you have to offer it.
Always send a follow-up thank you letter to the interviewer.
You've just applied for college admission, a major award or a new job. You have been invited to come in for an interview next
week. Your resume, cover letter and good use of networking contacts have brought you this far. Now do your research, rehearse
and relax. If you've had interview experience through 4-H youth development or school, you're ahead of the game. Here are some
tips to help you make a good impression.
Interview Preparation
Do Your Homework
Learn as much as you can about the opportunity and the interviewing organization. Evaluate your own knowledge, skills and
abilities and think about how you qualify for the opportunity. Find out information about the organization ahead of time.
General Questions
What is the name of the interviewer(s)?
Where will your interview be conducted? When and for how long?
College or University
Is it public or private? State or municipal? Land grant? What majors are the most popular? How many students
attend? Can you study online?
Do you know any students who attend? If so, ask them how they like going there.
What is the rate of admission? Of graduation? What scores do students usually need for acceptance? What is
the rate of employment upon graduation in your field or area of interest?
What are the expectations? Do you need to have a laptop when you arrive? Will you be traveling during breaks?
Is this award given every year? How is it funded? How many winners will be selected?
Do you know any previous winners? If so, talk to them about their experience as an award winner.
What are the criteria and qualifications for selection? Do they offer other awards similar to this one for which
you might apply?
What are the expectations? Will you be writing a report or making a presentation about your experience as the
How long have they been in business? What goods or services do they provide? How many employees do they
Do you know any people who currently work there? If so, ask them how they like working there.
What will the responsibilities be? What skills and knowledge will you need to do this job? Are there
opportunities for increased responsibility or advancement?
What are the expectations? Is this a full-time or a part-time job? Is the schedule flexible and will it fit your
other responsibilities?
Interview styles
Be prepared for a variety of interview styles. Some interviewers simply ask questions from a list, some use a conversational style,
and others may just say something like, "Tell me about yourself and why you want this opportunity." You may be asked to give a
graphic representation of yourself in words or symbols on a chalkboard or flip chart. You could use one or more of the following
types of visual aids: bar graph, freehand drawing, pyramid steps or resume outline.
Plan how you will look. Don't try a new haircut or style, but do get a haircut about a week before your interview. Makeup and
jewelry, if worn, should be moderate. Dress conservatively and comfortably, about one level above what you would wear to work.
Being clean and neat is most important. Plan ahead so that you don't have to scramble at the last minute about what to wear.
Have a backup outfit ready just in case. No denim and no backpack.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice answering questions. List your skills, talents and experiences that directly apply to this opportunity, as well as any
hobbies that relate to it, so you can tell the interviewer(s) about what you can do.
Plan and practice some answers to typical questions. Practice in front of a mirror, or record your practice interviews on an audio-
or videotape. Watch for nervous gestures and eliminate any slang or other inappropriate language. You will be expected to speak
in the language of work and school. Enlist the help of others to ask you questions and evaluate your answers and presentation.
Look on the Internet for sites with practice interview sessions.
Typical Questions
Tell us something about yourself.
Sample answers:
I am a team player with experience in solving problems.
I try to make healthy lifestyle choices and to be a responsible citizen.
I am an excellent communicator and enjoy working with others.
What skills have you gained in your 4-H youth development experience that you would like me to know about?
Sample answers:
My projects required keeping records. I learned the importance of setting goals and using resources wisely.
People depended on me to be prepared. I know the value of responsibility.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Sample answers:
Managing my time is a strength because it helps me do many things I like to do. It can be a weakness because
I tend to be overorganized and I might appear less friendly or fun-loving than I really answer. Where would you like to be in five years?
, about 10 to 15 minutes before your scheduled time. Make sure you know how to get to the interview. If you are
unsure of the location, make a trial run. Know where to park and if you need change for a meter.
Calm your nerves by taking deep breaths. Maintain a positive attitude no matter how you think the interview is going. Smile.
Bring an extra copy of your resume, a fresh notepad and a pen.
Greet the interviewer. Offer a firm handshake. Listen carefully for the interviewer's name and title, if you don't already know them.
Make and maintain eye contact. Be friendly but not too casual. Speak in complete sentences, and use a formal vocabulary. Don't
fidget, chew gum, smoke or use slang during your interview.
Answer questions. Above all, be honest. You do not have to offer negative information, but be sure you don't lie if asked directly.
Answer clearly and completely with enough information. Take a moment to think before you respond to difficult questions.
Organize your thoughts so you don't ramble. Remain calm no matter what question is asked. Be tactful, courteous, sincere, polite
and knowledgeable about the organization and what you have to offer.
Conclude the interview. Thank the interviewer for the time spent with you. Ask when a decision will be made, if that hasn't
already been indicated.
Interview Follow-Up
Make notes as soon as you leave. Jot down the name of the interviewer, questions you answered well, questions you might have
answered more effectively, and questions you would like to have asked. Keep a file of notes from your interviews that you can use
to prepare next time.
Send a follow-up or thank you letter. Type it on good quality paper, or write it by hand. Don't think you can skip it — interviewers
expect it. Express your thanks for the interview and restate your interest in the opportunity. You can even answer a question you
may have missed during the interview.