Career & Internship Services

Career Handbook

Types of Interviews

THE ON-CAMPUS INTERVIEW

On-campus interviews offer you the opportunity to interview with a number of organizations for a variety of positions throughout the year. A current list of employers scheduled to interview on campus is available through the Career and Internship Services web site. If you have questions about the on-campus interviewing process, contact the Career and Internship Services employer relations coordinator.

To be eligible for on-campus interviewing you must:

  • Be a UMD student or alum.
  • Register with Career and Internship Services' GoldPASS.
  • Have a current resume uploaded in GoldPASS.

Steps to participate in on-campus interviewing:

  • Check GoldPASS for the on-campus interview schedule.
  • Identify the companies in which you are interested and check interview qualifications.
  • Use GoldPASS to sign-up for interview times.

Some recruiters may pre-select candidates to interview. These recruiters will review the resumes in GoldPASS to decide who they want to interview. If you are pre-selected for an interview by a recruiter, you will be contacted via GoldPASS to schedule an interview.

Prior to your scheduled interview

  • Review the instructions for "Before the Interview."
  • If a company schedules an information session prior to their interview date, you are expected to attend. This is an opportunity for you to meet with company representatives in an informal setting, learn more about the company and ask questions before the interview. For the actual interview, be prepared with questions that were not answered at the group presentation. Attending a group presentation is one of the best ways to prepare for an interview and shows the company representatives that you are genuinely interested.
  • Career and Internship Services supplies interviewers with a copy of your resume from GoldPASS.
  • Arrive in Career and Internship Services at least 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled interview time.
  • A forty-eight hour notice is required to cancel an interview.

After your interview

Write the recruiter a thank-you letter. Use the business card you requested at the end of the interview to get the correct address and spelling.

Discrimination or sexual harassment complaints

Employers using Career and Internship Services for on-campus interviewing are required to adhere to practices consistent with University of Minnesota policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status or sexual orientation as well as policies prohibiting sexual harassment. If you experience practices you believe to be contrary to this policy, please report the incident to a career counselor or the employer relations coordinator.

THE ON-SITE INTERVIEW

  • An on-site interview may be either an initial interview or a second interview.
  • If the on-site interview is a second interview, the questions are likely to be more job-specific and technical than those asked in the initial interview.
  • In an on-site interview, you typically meet with many individuals. Each individual with whom you meet may not have heard your interactions with the others, so you may be asked to answer the same questions more than once.
  • Usually a tour of the facility is conducted and you meet potential supervisors, managers and/or co-workers.
  • Meals may be part of on-site interviews. Your dining etiquette will be observed and could be a factor in whether or not you get an offer.
  • As the interviewee, you have the opportunity to observe the organization's environment, ask questions and evaluate the community.

Format

  • Interview length varies from organization to organization. Some interviews may last an hour while others may be as long as two days.
  • The interview may consist of an individual interview, multiple individual interviews, panel interviews with multiple interviewers and/or group interviews with multiple interviewees.
  • You may be asked to complete testing such as aptitude and/or psychological assessments and/or drug screening.
  • You may be expected to have meals or attend receptions with employees, some of whom may be alum from your school.

Logistics

  • Request an interview agenda or itinerary.
  • Inquire whether you need to bring any materials such as writing samples, course projects, transcripts, company application, examples of research and/or other documentation of your experience and skills.
  • Ask whether you should make travel and hotel arrangements or whether the organization will provide that service.

Expenses

  • Reimbursement policies for travel expenses for on-site interviews may vary dramatically. It is important for you to be aware of the employer's policy before committing to a visit.
  • In most cases, the employer's letter inviting you for an on-site interview will advise you if and what expenses will be covered. If no reference is made to travel expenses, it is appropriate to inquire about the employer's policy before you accept an invitation for an on-site interview.
  • If the employer pays your expenses, you can expect reimbursement for:
    • Airline tickets and expenses for airport limousine or shuttle, taxi or bus from hotel to place of interview and baggage service tip at the airport and hotel
    • Automobile mileage if you drive (the amount is normally determined by the policy of the employer) and expenses for baggage handling at the hotel and automobile parking
    • Lodging (the night before or after the interview if necessary)
    • Meals and tips, not alcohol (refrain from any alcohol use during the entire time, even if your hosts don't)
  • If you plan to visit more than one employer on your trip, pro-rate the expenses among the employers. If you are visiting two or more employers on the trip and only one employer is willing to pay expenses, the employer should be charged only the share of the cost in proportion to the number of employers visited.
  • Not only do employer policies vary on payment of travel expenses, but the manner in which the expenses are paid also varies. In some cases, when airplane travel is necessary, the ticket may be forwarded to you in advance. In some cases, when overnight lodging is required, you may only have to sign the bill at the hotel, charging your room and meals directly to the employer. In cases where your expenses are to be reimbursed, you will need to pay for your transportation, lodging, meals and any gratuities first and then obtain payment. Employers will expect receipts for reimbursement so obtain receipts whenever possible. You may be reimbursed before leaving the employer or you may need to turn in all receipts at the conclusion of your trip. It is important to set aside some funds for travel expenses because reimbursement could take as long as four weeks.
  • Be prudent in the expenses you submit for reimbursement. Do not put yourself in the position of being rejected as an applicant because your expenses were unreasonable.

Preparation

  • Take enough copies of your up-to-date resume for each individual involved in your interview process, plus a few extras. Some of the people with whom you meet may not have seen your resume and it is helpful to be able to provide them with copies.
  • Review dining etiquette tips.
  • Consider the clothing you will need to take and wear when traveling. Are there dinners, receptions, or presentations involved? Pack light so you can carry your luggage with you; this should help avoid embarrassment in case your luggage is delayed or lost. You'll need interview attire and perhaps business casual attire. If you are unsure of appropriate attire, ask your contact person at the organization.
  • If this is a follow-up to your on-campus interview, you will have already researched the organization. If this is an initial interview, be sure to do your basic pre-interview research.

After the Interview

Send a thank-you letter expressing appreciation for the interview. Be sure to reiterate your interest in the position and the organization. Send a unique thank-you letter to each person with whom you spent time during the interview process. For panel interviews you may send one letter to the entire panel, addressed to the chair, or send individual letters to each panel member, but each letter must be different and point out something significant to each panelist.

THE TELEPHONE INTERVIEW

A telephone interview can happen unexpectedly or be planned. No matter how it occurs, you must answer the questions effectively in order to move to the next stage of the process which is the in-person interview.

To prepare for a telephone interview, follow the general guidelines to prepare for an in-person interview: take notes on your research of the company, study the job description and practice your responses to standard interview questions. During a telephone interview, you may use written notes of your responses to standard interview questions. Your notes should help you remember what you want to say and not be a script. If you read your responses, it will be obvious to the telephone interviewer that you are not being spontaneous. In addition, you also need to be prepared for the unexpected. The unplanned telephone call may come at any time. To avoid being caught off guard, keep your resume and research notes close by at all times.

Although a telephone interview may seem more casual than an in-person interview, you still need to project a professional image. Consider the following points to help you prepare for a successful telephone interview:

  • Review "Mobile Phone Use Tips for the Job and Internship Search."
  • Take a surprise telephone call in-stride. Be calm, sound positive and take a moment to gather your thoughts and your notes. You may say something like, "Thank you for calling; let me take a second to close the door for more privacy." Set the telephone down and collect yourself.
  • Have your resume, cover letter and notes neatly organized in front of you so you may easily and quietly refer to them.
  • If you have been asked to call at a specific time, call at exactly that time. Calling earlier or later than scheduled may be interpreted negatively by the employer. If you can't get through, leave a message to show that you called at the appointed time.
  • Your voice is one of the most important aspects of a telephone interview. Always smile when answering questions. This advice may sound silly, especially because the interviewer can't see you, but smiling improves the sound and tone of your voice and helps you project a positive image.
  • If the telephone interview is planned, shower and dress professionally before the appointed time. Focusing on your appearance puts you in the right frame of mind and helps you project a professional image.
  • Stand up or sit up straight at a table or desk. You will project a more knowledgeable and confident image.
  • As with in-person interviews, don't become overly familiar with the interviewer. Establish the correct pronunciation of the interviewer's name. Refer to the interviewer as Mr. or Ms. until you are invited to use a first name. Use the interviewer's name regularly throughout the interview and mention the name of the organization a number of times.
  • Keep up your end of the conversation without dominating the call. Ask the questions you prepared earlier by referring to your notes and listen carefully to the answers.
  • Speak clearly and directly into the telephone. Keep the mouthpiece about one inch from your mouth. Don't have anything in your mouth during the interview. Eating, drinking, chewing gum or smoking will be obvious and will have a negative effect on your interview.
  • Eliminate, or at least limit, background noise. Telephones pick up and amplify background music, voices and other noises and these will be distractions to you and the interviewer.
  • During the interview, write down information you want to remember or ask about later.
  • At the end of the interview, clarify the next steps in the process. If the interviewer tells you that he or she will get back to you, ask when.
  • Ask if you may contact the interviewer later if you have additional questions.
  • You may want to ask, if you haven't been invited yet, to meet the interviewer in person.
  • Get the correct spelling of the interviewer's name and the correct address. Send a follow-up/thank-you letter within two days of the telephone interview.

THE VIDEO CONFERENCING INTERVIEW

With the use of enhanced video conferencing programs, interviews can now be conducted from a candidate's own computer. The convenience and ease of conducting long distance interviews eliminates the expense of travel. Do your standard preparation work ahead of time. Even with video you still need to make a great first impression.

Some important considerations when participating in a video interview:

  • Be prepared for a slight time delay. Hesitate slightly before speaking to ensure that the transmission has fully completed.
  • Make sure there is no bright light (like a window) behind you which will darken your face.
  • When the interviewer is talking it is fine to look at the image on the screen; however, when you answer a question, look at the camera to make "eye contact."
  • Avoid wearing patterns and the color white. We notice white spots on a screen first and you want the interviewer drawn to your teeth and eyes, not your shirt.
  • What is behind you is also visible so make sure it leaves a professional impression.
  • Think about framing. Sitting flush with a plain white wall will make you look like you are in a police lineup. Angle your knees to the corner of the computer screen and then turn your head slightly to look at the camera.
  • Sit tall in your chair and not too close to the camera. A rule of thumb is that the first three buttons of your shirt should be visible so you don't look like a floating head.
  • Do a dry run with a friend to check color, sound and facial expressions.
  • Dress as though you are meeting face-to-face.
  • Have your resume ready as an email attachment.
  • Get the correct spelling of the interviewer's name and the correct address. Send a follow-up/thank-you letter within two days of the interview.

THE FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEW

An invitation for an office, agency, school or plant visit may follow your initial screening interview. This visit will allow more in-depth conversation with the employer to determine how your qualifications and interests match the needs of the organization. An invitation for a follow-up interview indicates that the employer is very interested in you. Review the section on "The On-site Interview" for additional information.

The follow-up interview will be conducted in much the same manner as your initial screening interview.

  • You will probably meet more people and the length of time spent with each will be longer.
  • Plan to spend most of one day with the employer.
  • You will be expected to be more conversant about the employer, your personal background, your academic and work experiences, your career and life goals, your activities and how all of these accomplishments qualify you as a valuable member of the employer's team.
  • Because of the extended time spent with each individual, you will have more time to ask questions. Be prepared to do so.
  • In many cases, this will be a stressful day. Always get a good night's rest beforehand.
  • If all goes well during the follow-up interview, you may receive an offer of employment prior to leaving or within a few days.
  • Send a thank-you letter expressing appreciation for the interview. Be sure to reiterate your interest in the position and the organization. Send a unique thank-you letter to each person with whom you spent time during the interview process.