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Professional Development Guidebook

Interviewing & Negotiation

If your resume has done its job, you will be contacted about an interview. Many companies will conduct one or two shorter (~30 min) phone interviews before asking you to come in person or to join a longer video call.

shaking hands in elevatorTo ensure a successful interview, here are some steps you can take:

  • Visit the place ahead of time - for an in-person interview, do visit the location beforehand so that you are clear on the best route to take, which building to enter, etc. Even taking this small step will introduce a sense of familiarity, and help diminish anxiety the day of the interview.
  • Test out tech and virtual background - for a virtual interview, e.g. via Zoom, make sure you test your audio and video settings before the interview. Minimize any sources that could be using your internet bandwidth to prevent technical issues. Check for distractions in your background that you wouldn’t want the employer to see.
  • Practice! Companies and hiring managers are moving towards asking more behavioral questions, (e.g. “Tell us about a time when you had to...,” rather than hypothetical questions, e.g. “What would you do if....”) It can help to practice answers to such questions on your own or with a friend. Here is a list to get you started.
  • Prepare some questions - the company is not just interviewing you, but you are interviewing them as well! Have some questions ready about the job posting and work culture at the organization, and ask each interviewer about their role.
  • Dress mindfully - ‘professional’ can have different meanings for different people. You should think about how you want to present yourself, while being authentic to who you are. A general default for companies is business attire (e.g. a suit jacket). Of course, you may choose something more comfortable if you prefer.

The key concept behind a successful interview is to help employers visualize you in the role. You accomplish this by asking well-informed questions, clearly pointing out how your skills and abilities make you a good fit for the position, and drawing on insider information and terminology you learned during your informational interviews.

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Review the job description and the organization webpage to come up with some questions that you might want to ask during the interview. Also research some common interview questions and write down your answers.

Workbook ActivityWorkbook Activity

For the job description you worked on in previous sections, research what salaries and benefits are typical for that type of job (tools like GlassDoor can be helpful). What benefits are listed in the job description? Which benefits might you ask about in the job interview that are important to you (e.g. flexible telework policy, health insurance coverage, type of sick leave)?

Interviewing Tips

Not sure how to come up with answers to behavioral questions? Use the STAR strategy, explained by Peter Fiske in this webinar clip.

Advice from the Other Side of the Table

More tips on interviewing.

Negotiating Your Offer

Congratulations! You got the offer! Now what? Believe it or not, in most cases you have the ability to have some influence over the terms of your contract. This is another instance where all of that advanced planning back in the Self-Assessment stage, in which you identified which aspects of a job are very important to you (e.g. making lots of money, comprehensive benefits, teleworking) and which are not as important to you (e.g. working regular hours, location), will come into play.

The amount of negotiating leverage you have depends on a number of factors, such as how many other candidates applied for the job, whether or not the search has been going on for a long time, whether the organization is flexible, and others. 

Negotiating an Offer

A summary of how to use these factors to your advantage.

Leveraging Factors in Successful Negotiation

A summary of how to use these factors to your advantage.

Negotiation & Salary

Many of the terms which you may include in your negotiation may be guided by your own personal needs or preferences. However, the most commonly pursued type of negotiation involves salary. Many candidates find themselves at a loss regarding the typical salaries for their potential position. Fortunately, there are a multitude of resources available to help students navigate that process.

Understanding Typical Salaries

Tips on navigating the process.

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