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Job Search Strategies: How to Prepare for the Interview

Guest blogger and IST alumnus Katie Farrell provides more tips for job seekers as she conducts her own job search....

Until my last semester of graduate school I didn’t know that research needed to be done before an interview. I knew you needed to go over possible interview questions and come up with some answers but I had no idea how to really prepare myself. Luckily, a UAlbany professor outlined some simple ways to have the best interview possible. Here are some tips that I’ve learned in class and from my own post-graduation interviews.

1.) Research the location: I was initially skeptical when I first heard this suggestion but my first interview question after graduate school asked me what I knew about the town where the organization was located. It always looks good if you know some specifics and I was relieved I had done some research beforehand.

2.) Research the organization: You should definitely have an understanding of the organization where you’re interviewing. This knowledge will not only help you answer specific questions, it will give you an idea of what it’s like to work there.

3.) Dress the part: If you have a suit, wear it. If not, men should wear a shirt and tie and women should wear something conservative and professional. Avoid low cut shirts.

4.) Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses: Don’t hand this to the people interviewing you but writing this down will help you remember what adjectives to use when they ask why you’re a good candidate for the job. With the weaknesses, be honest but make sure you don’t reveal anything that sends up red flags. Also, don’t say something cliché such as “I work too hard.��? Tailor your answers to whatever job you’re applying for.

5.) Ask questions: My dad once told me, “Remember you’re not the only one being interviewed; you’re also interviewing them.��? You as much as the people interviewing you, have a lot to learn during the interview. Prepare some specific questions you have about the organization beforehand. If you think you’ll forget them, bring them to the interview. Make sure the questions actually help your understanding of the organization and work environment so if you’re lucky enough to get a job offer, you’ll be more informed when making your decision (yes, you have a choice whether or not to accept the offer).

6.) Be yourself: I know it sounds cliché but it’s your greatest strength. The people who interview you definitely want to know your qualifications but a huge part is just getting to know you as a person. Interviewers want to know if you will gel with the organizational culture. Let your best qualities shine through; these unique talents will be what set you apart.

These tips have all helped me feel confident and prepared on every interview I’ve gone on. I hope they do the same for you and good luck!