Career Paths

To qualify for good jobs, consider alternative career paths, focus on high-quality technical education, and pursue summer internships to gain hands-on experience.

The company you are interested in has finally granted you a job interview. Now what? Will you prepare well, and have ready answers for common interview questions, or will you arrive unprepared? Before an interview, analyze the position that you are applying for thoroughly. Review a copy of the job description and highlight the qualifications and main responsibilities. If you are still unclear about the nature of the position, request more information from the company directly. At the same time, learn as much as you can about the company’s mission, services, products, and main competitors. Start your research on the company’s website, then do an article search on Google, and attend information sessions and career fairs on campus if possible. Don't get discouraged if you don't meet all of their specified requirements, just emphasize your capabilities, as they apply to that specific job opening.

Interview Mistakes

Interview Questions and Answers

Cover letters

Resume samples

Write out answers to questions you think the employer will ask and keep a list of your strengths, weaknesses, and key accomplishments. Your main goal in an interview is to show the employer that you are able to do the job they are seeking to fill, by providing the interviewer with detailed past examples that show you successfully used the skills they seeking. Further, you'll need to look good, speak clearly, and act like a confident, professional person that the company would be proud to have on board.

Review your prior work experiences, internships, volunteer experience, course work, interests and hobbies. For each item on your list, identify the skills and knowledge you developed, because many skills are transferable to the job you're applying for. Think of your accomplishments, and select out several things you would like to tell employers about. Practice talking out loud in front of a mirror, so that you will look and sound more polished during your interview. If possible, make a video with a friend or family member, and review your performance afterwards. Ask yourself, did I look and sound confident (completeness, level of detail, how easy to follow), and what does my body language say (pace, voice quality and tone, energy levels, posture, eye contact, hand gestures)?

Writing a Resume
By looking at sample resume layouts, you can avoid many of the mistakes new graduates make in over-preparing their resume. While experience is thin starting out, your resume can emphasize academic and community achievements, and serve to formally introduce yourself as a job candidate.


    • Past and Current Employers
    • Work Experience
    • Military Service
    • Internships
    • Computer Skills
    • Technical Experience


    • College or university, major, and degree
    • Courses and GPA
    • Job Training Courses
    • Standardized Test Scores
    • Licensing and Certification
    • Study abroad
    • Extracurriculars
    • Volunteer Experience
    • Foreign Languages

Have extra copies of your resume and references ready, and lay out your business clothing the night before. You don't want to feel rushed in the morning of your interview, when you need to be getting ready psychologically. Get directions to the interview site, and confirmation of the day and time of the interview. Allow an extra buffer of driving or commute time to get to the site, and plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early.

Interview Tips

Build rapport in the first 10 seconds. First impressions can set the tone for the rest of the interview. When your interviewer comes into the waiting room and calls your name, walk toward that person with confidence, make eye contact, extend your hand, and introduce yourself. Depending on the industry that you want to enter, you may be asked technical questions that relate to concepts that you studied in your major. Organize your thoughts and show an understanding of the issues. During the day you will likely meet with several people, including your potential supervisor, coworkers and a human resources representative.

  • Check your teeth and face in the bathroom, immediately before your interview, styling your hair neatly, and off your face.

  • Do not put your belongings on the interviewer's desk, and turn off your cell phone before entering the room. Bring a notebook and pen, but keep them in your bag, which you should place on the floor, touching your leg, so you don't forget it when you leave (forcing an awkward return to retrieve it later).

  • Be specific and give examples. This adds credibility to statements you make about your qualifications; therefore, it's better to make a few strong points than many brief, unrelated points.

  • Be honest, and consistent in your answers, and remember that you are being evaluated at all times. In group activities and during meals, your ability to work with people is being observed. Be respectful to everyone, as offers have been denied based on how applicants treat administrative staff.

  • Remember that the interview is a two-way street. Be observant. What is the atmosphere like? Are employees friendly? This will give you a sense if this employer is one that you would like to work for, and if this position fits in with your goals.

Interview Questions

Here are a few tough interview questions to prepare set answers for. You may not face all these interview questions, but many are common in job interview situations. It isn't enough to read through the questions; take your time, and actually write down reasonable responses to each question. Practice role-playing with a family member or partner, as other people can catch slips you might miss practicing alone. Interviews are hard to get, given that there are many job applicants for each position. Knowing what to expect when going for your interview can be the difference between getting the job and not. This guide will help you understand what recruiters are looking for and help you practice the proper responses to difficult interview questions, increasing your chances of success.

Why do you want this job?
What salary are you expecting?
Why do you want to work for us?
Do you know the location of our head office?
What can you do for us that other candidates can't?
Do you have any questions for me?
How has our company's performance been over the past year?
How would you improve our product and services?
What do you know about our industry?
Which is more important to you, the money or the job?
If you were interviewing someone for this job, what would you be looking for?
What problems do you feel you will have fitting into the job?
What do you know about our competitors?
What kinds of office and technical equipment do you know how to use?
Are you willing to relocate?
How do your skills relate to our needs?

Job History:
Are you a good employee?
Have you ever been fired?
What did you like least about your last job?
Why are you leaving your present job?
Describe a time when you won over someone who was confrontational? How did you achieve this?
How have you resolved conflicts in the groups or teams that you have been a member of?
What do you expect to be earning in 5 years?
Tell me about a difficult customer that you have dealt with.
Describe a time when you failed at a task.
Tell me about an unpopular decision you've made?
Explain a situation where you successfully overcame a setback in order to meet a deadline?
What are the two most significant accomplishments in your career so far?

Personal Development:
Are you a good candidate?
List three major accomplishments that you're proud of?
Tell me something personal about yourself.
What would a friend say is your greatest weakness?
What team sports have you played?
What person do you admire most and why?
Have you ever been the leader of a team? What did you dislike about the role?
What do you do for enjoyment in your leisure time?
How do you think a close friend who knows you well would describe you?
Describe something creative that you’ve done.
What's the most important thing you learned in school?

Are you the right fit for our team?
What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
Give me an example of something you did wrong. How did you handle it?
What's the most difficult decision you've made in the last two years?
What negative thing would your last boss say about you?
Have you ever had to work under a high degree of pressure?
When was the last time you had a serious disagreement with someone. How did you resolve it?
Tell us about a time when you had conflicting priorities.
Why have you decided to change jobs?
What kind of people frustrate you?
What makes you laugh?
Tell us about a time when you bent the rules.
How would you describe yourself?

Questions To Ask

Bring at least five questions to ask employers to all of your interviews. Asking thoughtful questions is an excellent way to show your interest in the position and demonstrate that you have done research on the company. Avoid questions that you can find the answers to on the company’s website and focus on questions that show you studied the employer through news articles, company reports, and talking to company representatives. It's OK to ask a few questions during the interview, although typically the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions at the end of the interview. A few standard questions that will advance your agenda are as follows:
  • How often, and with what criteria, are employees evaluated?

  • What are the best/worst aspects of working in this group/organization?

  • What’s the biggest challenge facing this group/organization right now?

  • What are some typical first year assignments?

  • What kind of training is given to new employees?

Salary Negotiation

As a general rule, questions about salary and benefits are best left until a job offer has been extended, but you need to know what to say if you receive an offer on the spot. In most cases, it’s better to think about the offer before either accepting or declining. If you are lucky enough to receive a verbal offer but are not ready to accept, simply thank them for their decision, and request a few days to think over this important decision. Since they have indicated that they value you highly as a candidate, you may be in a position to negotiate a better offer by waiting. Ask for written confirmation of the job offer, and tell the firm when you will make a decision.

Once you have been offered a job, you have a golden opportunity to discuss the terms of your employment. Gather as much factual information as you can from other employees, before deciding on what salary request you want to make. Always begin by expressing genuine interest in the position and the organization, and offering to compromise on other areas, such as longer hours and travel. Be prepared to defend your reasons for wanting to improve their offer with meaningful, work-related benefits to the employer. Requesting a salary increase just because you are a fast learner, or have a high GPA, aren't justifiable reasons alone. You need to have past work experience or internships that have demonstrated professional skills.

It is sometimes more comfortable for employees to make an initial salary request in writing, and plan a face-to-face meeting later to iron out differences. You'll need to be assertive at this point even though you may feel vulnerable. Sometimes the employer will be surprised at your salary suggestion, but stand firm, but encourage them to think about it for a day or two. Don't rush the process simply because you feel uncomfortable making demands. The employer may be counting on your discomfort and use it to stall the negotiation.

There are other things you can ask for besides a higher salary. For example, benefits can add thousands of dollars to your compensation package. Traditional benefit packages include health insurance, paid vacation and sick days, but companies may offer further benefits such as child care, elder car, or use of company vehicles for family emergencies. Other benefits include disability and life insurance, retirement plans, and discounts on the company's products and services. Finally, some organizations may offer investment and stock options, relocation reimbursement, and tuition credits for continued education.

After The Interview

Before you forget, take the time the following day to send a thank-you letter to each company that you had a personal interview with. An email won't suffice, it has to be an actual mailing, printed on high-quality paper, like writing a cover letter. Send it to the primary interviewer, and send copies to other people you met throughout the day. A week after sending a thank-you letter, you may contact the employer once again, to show your continued interest, and to ask if there is any additional information you can provide. Not only will the interviewer note your effort, but in fact, the company is more likely to hire those candidates that show the most persistence and enthusiasm for the job.

Finally, every interview is an opportunity to learn and perfect your presentation, so after the interview, ask yourself the following questions: What points did I make that seemed to interest the interviewer? Did I talk too much, or perhaps too little, and did I ask questions which clarified the requirements of the position? Finally, was I able to demonstrate that I would be able to fulfill their needs?

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