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

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

Image from www4​.images​.coolspot​ters​.com

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​.north​eastern​.edu/​c​a​r​e​e​r​s​/​j​o​b​s​-​i​n​t​e​r​n​s​h​i​p​s​/​i​n​t​e​r​v​i​e​w​i​ng/.

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.