Whether you’re a senior searching for post-grad opportunities, or a freshman looking for an on-campus job, it never hurts to brush up on your interviewing skills.

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Meghan Sarver graduated from James Madison University in 2004 with a degree in economics. She remembers her time at JMU fondly, and was a Marching Royal Duke all four years.

Today, Meghan is a Senior Analyst, Talent Acquisition Operations at S&P Global in the Roanoke, Virginia area. As such, she has lots of experience interviewing candidates for jobs, making her the perfect source for information on how to prepare for, and consequently rock, any interview. Here are Meghan’s tips to make a lasting first impression at your next job interview:

Tip 1: Be yourself.

Of course managers are evaluating skills and competencies during the hiring and selection process, but by the time you get through to the final interviews, the focus will be about helping the manager see how you will fit into their team. Show them what it will be like to work with you.

Tip 2: Know the role.

Be sure to research the company and the position before your interview. There are so many useful tools out there now: the company’s website, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc. You should be able to find out what the role is and how it contributes to the company’s overall business strategy, and also have an idea if this is something you truly want to do. If you have questionsask the recruiter!

Tip 3: Know your goal.

The goal is not to help the interviewer know all about the details of your last role. The goal is to help the interviewers understand how you operate and how you’ll fit into their team. I recommend learning about the STAR-based interview technique. This will help you answer questions that explain the Situation you were in, the Task you were working on, the Action you took, and the Results you achieved.

Tip 4: Stay connected.

Connect with your recruiter or interviewers via LinkedIn. Sometimes the role doesn’t work out for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be a great fit for another role in the future.

Is there anything I shouldn’t do?

You shouldn’t leave without asking questions!  Prepare a very long list and take it with you. Even if the interviewer shares a lot of information with you, you should always be able to ask something.

What is an automatic ‘I can’t hire this person’ for you?

[If] they were not curious or excited about the job. Ask questions and demonstrate that you are trying to envision how you’ll fit in the role.

Do you have any advice for nervous interviewers?

Interviews can sometimes feel like all attention is on you, and that your background is being put under the microscopethat’s enough to make anyone nervous! Just remember that you aren’t alone in the spotlight: you are evaluating this company as a prospective employer and you are seeking a mutual fit. Do you want to work with these people every day? Does the manager seem like someone who can coach you and help develop your skills? Knowing that they are answering to you for these things will help you gain some control and confidence in your interview.

I hope Meghan’s advice helps put you at ease as you prepare for future interviews. Dukes, what tips and tricks do you have for your peers?

One thought on “Job Interview Tips and Tricks from a JMU Alum

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