Where Should I Put My Snow Boots? and Other Questions to Ask Before an Interview

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When I was searching for my first job after college, I was psyched to be called for an

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interview for one of the jobs I was most interested in. Come the day of the interview, it was December in Massachusetts and there was tons of snow on the ground already. I had to wear snow boots to the office and change into my shoes when I got there, but it also meant that I had to carry the boots with me. Can you say “awkward”? Turns out, that wasn’t the most awkward moment of the day.

Based on my limited interview experience, I assumed the interview would last about an hour. Wrong. It was scheduled for FOUR hours, meeting multiple people in sequential meetings. First, I was meeting one of the research investigators. Then, I met with one of the senior research investigators. Next up were two of the research assistants, to tell me more about the day-to-day aspects of my (hopefully) job. The last interview was with one of the programmers that worked with the group.

I panicked. Not only did I have somewhere else to be and have to let people know I wouldn’t be there (back in the day before everyone had cell phones, meaning I had to borrow a company phone to call), but mentally I was thrown off. I was rattled by having to rearrange my schedule and even more intimidated by the idea of meeting so many people and for such a lengthy period of time.

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I tried to pull myself together but was feeling “off” the entire time I was there. I must have held it together pretty well though, because I did actually get the job. In addition, I learned a very useful lesson for scheduling future interviews: Ask questions! Know what you are getting yourself into. Some things you should know before you show up (and yes, it is totally ok that you ask these things):

  • Where will the interview be held?
  • Who/how many people will you be meeting with?
  • How long should you plan on being there? (After all, you may have a class later.)
  • What is the format of the interview? Some possible formats include panel or group interviews, candidate presentations, case studies or behavioral interviews.

Knowing these kinds of things in advance will help you better prepare for the interview and make sure you’re at the top of your game when you get there.

For more heplful information on interviewing, take a look at the interviewing section on our website http://www.northeastern.edu/careers/jobs-internships/interviewing/.

Tina Mello is Associate Director of University Career Services, and has worked at Northeastern for 11 years. Nicknamed the “information guru” by other members of the staff, she loves to research and read about various job/career/education topics. For more career advice, follow her on twitter @CareerCoachTina.

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