Research and Reflection

What you do to get ready for an interview is just as important, if not more, than what you do in the interview.

Know Yourself 

  • How do your skills, interests, and values relate to this opportunity? 
  • How does it relate to your career goals?
  • Keeping in mind the organization's mission and vision, ask yourself, "What can I contribute to this organization?"

Know the Organization

Research the organization. You should be familiar with their:

  • Mission
  • Products/services
  • Customers/clients
  • Competitors
  • Strategies
  • Market landscape
  • Related current events
  • Media presence

Know the Kind of Interview

  • Is the interview in person? Is it over the phone? Or perhaps it is an online video interview through Skype?
  • If your interview is not in person, it is important to find a quiet space where you will not be interrupted by distractions, loud noises, or a loss of internet or cell phone service.

Reflect on Past Experiences

  • Many organizations use behavioral-based interviewing, which means they want to understand how you react in different situations. For example, “Can you please tell me about a time there was a conflict within a team you were a part of?”
  • To prepare for these questions, review your prior experiences and think about the results of your actions.

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Considerations for Health Professional School Interviews

Most health professional programs require an interview as part of the application process. The interview provides an opportunity for applicants to tour the school, meet current students, learn about the curriculum and financial aid options, and participate in a structured interview with one or more members of the admissions committee. 

Most medical schools (and many dental, optometry, pharmacy and other health professional schools) begin interviewing as early as late August (nearly one year prior to matriculation).

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Practice Responding to Questions

Take the time to practice interviewing. Think about your responses to common questions. Anticipate questions that may be asked based upon the position description.

  • Use the STAR Method
    • The STAR interview technique offers a straightforward format to answer behavioral interview questions
    • STAR stands for:
      • Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
      • Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
      • Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
      • Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.
  • Be prepared to respond to difficult questions and explain the situation honestly and in a positive manner. Negative results are okay if they are explained as a learning experience.
    • How will you explain or address a low grade point average?
    • Why did you change your major three times?

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Be Prepared to Ask Questions

The end of the interview is typically reserved for your questions. You should always prepare questions in advance.

Tips to prepare questions:

  • Ask questions that help you decide if this opportunity is right for you.
  • Ask specific questions about the organization rather than ones that could easily be found on the web. 
  • Ask specific questions about the job role to clarify the work you will be doing
  • Ask questions about the companies goals and vision

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What to Wear

Select clothes appropriate for the type of interview, industry, and organization. Make sure to convey professionalism at all times. First impressions make lasting impressions.

What to Wear? Suits - pants, skirt, or dress - that are nicely fitted and usually a darker color are always safe, unless you know that the industry has different expectations.  As for accessories, a tie, jacket, or vest are all appropriate as well. Shirts or blouses can be a pop of color, but consider more conservative style choices; don't let your attire be a distraction from the interview.

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Pre-recorded Video Interview

What is a pre-recorded one-way video interview?

In a one-way video interview, the job seeker answers preset questions which are recorded for the employer to review later. Pre-recorded one-way videos may be a part of the first stage of the interview process, often replacing a phone interview.

How do these interviews work?

  • The recruiter/hiring manager prepares pre-written questions and sets a time limit for the response, i.e. one minute, two minutes, etc.
  • Some formats allow candidates to re-record their answer; others only allow one attempt
  • Candidates are sent a unique web link to record their answers to the questions on their own time (with a deadline)
  • The recruiter/hiring manager will review the submitted recording at their convenience

Why are employers choosing this method?

  • Time: Decreases the amount of time to interview many job candidates. Traditional interviews can take days, or even weeks, to get through.
  • Financial: Reduces company travel budgets. Increases productivity
  • Consistency: Ensures all candidates for each position are asked the same question, in the same order, and are given the same amount of time to prepare and respond.

Tips to ace your one-way, pre-recorded interview

  • Read the instructions carefully
    • Make sure you understand how much time you will be given to respond to each question, if you will get any opportunities to re-record your answers, and the deadline by which you need to submit the questions.
  • Choose and test your equipment
    • Make sure your camera, microphone, and internet are working properly in advance, so you do not have any technical difficulties when you are interviewing.
  • Dress for success
    • Wear professional clothing; avoid bright colors.
  • Set the environment professionally and choose your location carefully.
    • Have a quiet space and use a plain wall for a background.
    • Make sure pets or other distractions will not be in the way.
    • Have good lighting.
    • Close out any tabs on your computer and put your phone on silent.
  • Try to be as natural as possible
    • Talk at a natural pace.
    • Make good eye contact and be engaging.
    • Look directly at the camera rather than at your computer screen.
  • Send a thank you note
    • Thank you notes are always a good practice; they give you the opportunity to add a personal touch to the interviewing process.

Practicing with Big Interview

How can you practice your interviewing skills? Use Big interview!

  • Big Interview gives you hands-on practice with pre-recorded video mock interviews tailored to your specific industry, job, and experience level.
  • Get guidance on the best way to respond to the questions.
  • Log into Illinois.BigInterview.com to start practicing!

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Tips for Non-Native Speakers

Multi-lingual skills are an advantage. Many employers operate internationally.

  • Invest time and energy in practicing with native speakers to be more confident in your ability to speak slowly and clearly.
  • Speak slower and louder than usual to make it easier for interviewers to understand you.
  • Prepare direct and succinct answers rather than long ones.
  • Ask for clarification.
    • Seeking a clarification on a question is much better than providing an answer that does not match the question.
    • Useful ways to ask for clarification are "Could you please clarify your question?" or "Could you please be more specific?", or "Could you please re-phrase the question?"
  • If you have experience at a top company in another country, say so. "It is a Korean Google" would be an example. Many interviewers do not know about the size, scope, and impact of companies based outside of the U.S., so comparing them to a similar U.S.-based company is helpful.

After the Interview

  • It is important to follow-up by email with each individual involved in your interview within 48 hours to reinforce that you are interested in the position. Keep the message brief and bring up a specific topic or conversation you enjoyed in each note.
  • Inquire about next steps in the process. For example, “when should I expect to hear back regarding the final decision on the position?”
  • If you have not heard from the employer within the timeframe the employer indicated, be sure to follow up. Let the employer know you are still interested in the position and ask if there have been adjustments to the timeline.
  • Be sure to communicate if you have a pending offer with a looming deadline with another employer. Transparency is important.

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