Improving Your Interviewing Skills

Sharon Apollo (courtesy of LinkedIn)

Sharon Apollo (courtesy of LinkedIn)

As many students transition from writing papers and taking exams to prepping resumes and searching for jobs, one lacking skill may prevent students from getting the job of their dreams.

That skill is interviewing.  

At our last PRSSA event, EMU lecturer and interviewing expert Sharon Apollo came by to give students an idea of what they’ll face and what they need to learn as they enter the real world.

Apollo’s first key to a successful interview was preparation.

  • KNOW YOURSELF – What can you offer the employer and how can you show you fit the position?
  • KNOW THE ORGANIZATION – Do research on the organization.  Dig deep into their website and also Google the organization for news articles.
  • KNOW THE DETAILS OF THE JOB – What exactly is the organization looking for?
  • MATCH YOUR SKILLS WITH THE JOB DETAILS Once you understand what the organization is looking for, think about the ways that your skills and experiences would translate into that spot.  Thinks of ways to quantify your experiences.

Apollo also gave tips on how to make yourself appear as attractive as possible to prospective employers.

She introduced the S.M.I.L.E method.

  • SMILE – Employers want to hire friendly people.
  • Motivation – Show and discuss how motivated you are.
  • Information – Research the company and be ready to discuss what you find.
  • Look at the interviewer – Maintain eye contact throughout the interview.
  • Energy and Enthusiasm – This is all about body language.  Don’t slouch, cross your arms or seem disinterested.  Posture is important and interviewers want to know that you’re truly excited about the prospect of working for their organization.

Apollo also talked with students about what types of questions they may be asked in job interviews.

Questions students should be prepared for include behavioral-based questions such as:  Tell me a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.

Another type of question you may be asked in an interview may be more traditional:  What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Apollo also said that it’s important for you to ask questions as well.  Here are some examples.

  1. Describe your ideal employee.
  2. What is a typical workday for this position?
  3. What do you like most about working for this organization?

Apollo also said that as the interview nears completion, it’s always important to remember a few other key points.

  1. You shouldn’t ask about salary in the first interview–salary will be negotiated later.
  2. Make sure you know what happens next.
  3. Get business cards from the interviewer(s).
  4. Make sure to express your interest in the position.

If you are lucky enough to garner interest from the employer, don’t take the job immediately.

Give yourself a couple of days to think about everything that comes along with taking the position. Salaries are often negotiable. If an employer is unwilling to budge on a salary offer, there are often other things that can be negotiated.  These include bonuses, vacation time, profit sharing and others.

Apollo said that people who want more information on interview preparation should consult these two books: Interviewing Magic and Interviewing Answers In A Flash.

With the help of these interviewing tips along with all the hard work you’ve accomplished during school and your internships, you should be on your way to capture the job of your dreams!

Sam Plymale


5 responses to “Improving Your Interviewing Skills

  1. Thank you for the post! Many people are unsure of how to navigate or even what to expect when going into an interview, but I found this article helpful in the sense that it offered structure and preparation for job interviews. Doing research about the position and then matching your own skills accordingly is great advice that I will definitely follow the next time I am being interviewed. Thanks again!

  2. I followed a lot of these steps today before and during the Diversity Career Fair held at EMU. With the proper amount of preparation, I definitely felt more confident when speaking with employers at booths and even got an interview set up for next week.

    Job fairs are another great way for students to gain experience and develop stronger interviewing skills. There is a job fair in March I plan on attending as well, and even if no opportunities come of it at least it’s an opportunity to learn.

  3. I think this is a great topic to write about because I imagine interviewing for jobs is something a lot of people go into the work force not properly prepared for. I still have a few years until I graduate, but I know interviewing for a job is definitely something I am nervous about. I thought it was really interesting that Sharon Apollo noted it is important to ask the interviewer questions, as well as answers there’s. I have always pictured interviews as me just sitting there answering question after question, so it was kind of nice to hear it is okay to ask them questions as well.

  4. I think it is great that this blog mentions looking up information about the history of the organization before going on the interview. The interview will be much more successful if you can talk about how your interests fit with the interests of the company, such as giving back to the community.

    However, I think that it would have been great if this blog included steps that an individual should take after the interview, such as sending an email to thank the person for the interview. It is important to remember this step because it gives you a chance to display enthusiasm that may not have been apparent at the time of the interview, and it is a great way to remind the employer about your interest in the position.

    What steps do you feel have been most helpful to you?
    What do you feel is the best response to a question that asks about your weaknesses?

  5. Reblogged this on Sam Plymale and commented:
    Here is a blog I wrote for

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