Indiana University

Indiana University Journalism

Job and Internship Interviews

A job or internship interview is a focused, goal-oriented exchange between you and another person or between you and a group of people. You will discuss your education, experience and present your personality to an employer. The key is to be prepared. Start with these guidelines:


Before the interview

Spend time thinking about yourself. Are your interests consistent with the general career area and this position? What are your work-related skills and how do they fit with this job? Is this opportunity compatible with your work values?
Get to know the organization, its products or services, hierarchical structure, location(s) and needs. Be prepared to verbalize your thoughts. Preparation will strengthen your self-confidence and will show a sincere interest in the job.
Practice
Interviewing is a skill. It improves with practice. You must be able to communicate information effectively. Verbal communication is among the most important evaluation criteria.
You do not want your answers to sound rehearsed, but you do want to communicate readily and easily about yourself. Know your general points and supporting examples; allow them to come together as the questions are asked.
To help you practice for interviews, you might find a friend willing to act as an interviewer. Respond to some of the questions listed below. If you have a tape recorder, play back your responses and evaluate yourself.


Appearance

Dress conservatively and professionally, using your appearance to enhance the image of maturity and self-confidence that you want to communicate.
Generally, men should wear a conservative suit with a traditional shirt and tie or a blazer with a traditional shirt and tie and dress shoes. Hair should be clean and neat. For women, a dress suit or pants suit with limited accessories is appropriate.


During the interview

Be punctual. Never be late for an interview!
To avoid an awkward situation, decide before the interview whether to offer your hand if your interviewer does not extend his or hers. No rule exists about the handshake; do what comes naturally. This initial introductory period will usually include a social comment about the weather, etc. to put you at ease.
Always carry extra copies of your resumé. If you have updated your resumé for a specific job for which you are interviewing, bring along the revised version and give it to the employer. Take business cards, if you have them (optional).


Questions and answers

Try to hear what an employer is really asking you. What are the underlying questions?
Put yourself in the employer’s place and ask yourself, "What reservations would I have about hiring me?” Your purpose is to alleviate these reservations in the interview and calm any doubt about your suitability for a position.
It may be helpful to use an interview answer format to guide the content and direction of your responses. The three components of an effective interview answer are:
  • State your skill or ability.
  • Cite an example surrounding that skill area.
  • Relate the skill and experience to the position for which you are interviewing.
The list of sample interview questions that follows will give you an idea of what you may be asked in an interview. You will not be asked all of these questions; in fact, you may not be asked any of them. But these are the types of questions you may get:
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your major strengths?
  • What is a major weakness that you have and what are you doing to correct it?
  • Where do you hope to be in five years? Ten years?
  • Why should I hire you over other candidates?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • How did you get interested in this career field?
  • Why would you be successful in this job?
  • How did you decide where to go to college?
  • Have you been pleased with your choice?
  • Why did you major in___?
  • Did you always plan to major in it?
  • What is your GPA?
  • Tell me about your extracurricular or community activities.
  • What would you like to change about your college experience?
  • What were your favorite and least favorite subjects in school?
  • What kind of professors did you like?
  • Did you do your best in college?
  • Why or why not?
  • Tell me about your work habits.
  • Tell me about some of your work experiences. What have you learned from them?
  • What kind of boss do you like to have? (Avoid criticizing a former boss.)
  • What annoyed you with people you have worked with?
  • What qualities do you admire in others?
  • Why are you interested in this job?
  • To what other organizations are you applying? For what kinds of jobs are you being considered?
  • Tell me about an accomplishment you are proud of.
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • Do you work well under pressure?
  • What are your salary requirements?
  • How do you feel about traveling as part of your job?
  • Do you mind working overtime?
  • What questions do you have about the position and our organization?
  • What are your geographic limitations?


Ending the interview

When you sense that the interviewer is ready to wrap things up, let it end. Another interviewee may be waiting or your interviewer may have other commitments. Listen for end-of-interview signals and respond promptly. If the interviewer does not indicate the next step in the job selection process, ask what to expect.


Follow up

As soon as possible, make notes about what was discussed. Respond promptly to any employer requests, such as to send transcripts or samples of your work. In addition, write a letter thanking the interviewer for the time and consideration given to you and clarifying any questions.