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Interviewing Tips
and Techniques

Zionsville Community High School

1000 Mulberry Street, Zionsville, Indiana 46077
(317) 873-3355 Fax: (317) 873-8002

Diann Vernon, Internship Coordinator

Business & Entrepreneurial Leadership Department

Know your purpose:
Get everything ready:
Plan to arrive ALONE and 5-10 minutes early.
Check your route to make sure you plan for high
traffic volume during busy times.
Take money for any potential toll roads or
parking fees.
Take extra copies of your resume, application
and other portfolio items including a blue or
black pen.
Bring at least 3 letters of recommendation from
teachers, coaches, counselors, administrators
avoid letters from family and friends.
Take your drivers license.
Carry your papers in a nice portfolio, never fold
or bend them to fit in a purse.
Research the company or school and be able to
describe what you know about the job or
program for which you are applying.

Shut your phone off and put it away.

Clean up your social media profile.
Shower, shave, wash hair, and wear deodorant.
Avoid too much cologne or perfume.
Make sure nails are trimmed, neat, clean and
polish is a neutral shade.
Avoid too much makeup and/or jewelry.
Have a conservative hair style, nothing trendy or
faddish (avoid brightly dyed colors).
Remove all facial piercings and cover tattoos.
Wear neat, clean clothinga good rule of thumb
is to dress one step better than the typical em-
ployee in the position for which you are applying.
Avoid jeans with holes, t-shirts, short skirts,
shorts, shirts with large logos or writing and
revealing attire.
Dont carry a huge over-sized purse or bag.
Empty pockets of loose change and/or keys.
Smile naturally.

Which careers compliment your passions and strengths?

* Who are you?
* What are your work values?
* What are your interests and passions?
* What are your aptitudes?
* What are your personal values and expectations?
* What is your lifestyle expectation and how will your
career influence it?
Body Language:
Maintain good posture and poise.
Maintain eye contact.
Avoid looking around, staring at the floor or
constantly looking at your watch or the clock.
Try to look and be relaxed but not to the point
where you are slouchy.
Never put your feet up on the furniture.
Do not use wild gestures or speak eagerly with
your hands, try to keep them in your lap or
relaxed at your side.
Avoid crossing your arms and legs repeatedly.
Dont shake or bounce your leg.
Avoid playing with your hair, necklace or

Manners and Speaking Habits:

Smile and be courteous to everyone you meet.
Let the interviewer make the first move, which is
usually to shake hands.
Give a firm handshake (not soft and mushy nor
too hard and bone crushing).
Dont speak poorly about former bosses.

Manners and Speaking Habits (continued):
Do not sit until invited to do so.
Speak with confidence.
Speak slowly and enunciate clearly, do not mumble
or slur your responses.
Use proper grammar, avoid slang and non-words
such as um, uh or ok.
Listen carefully to what the interviewer says.
Give thought to your answers.
Avoid taking drinks or food into the
Avoid chewing gum or having a mint in
your mouth.
Do not smoke, even if it is offered to you.
Be bubbly and enthusiastic but do not go overboard.
Have a positive, can-do attitude.
Participate in the conversation, and avoid one-word
yes or no responses.
Thank the interviewer as you leave for speaking with
Send a follow-up thank you letter.
Afterwards, write down as much as
you can remember about the interview
(such as the questions you were asked) as soon as
you can in order to help you the next time.

Lets look at some typical questions you
might be asked for a job interview:
Tell us about yourself. Provide a brief background of
your professional and educational experiences.
What one word best describes you and why?
What are your major strengths and weaknesses?
Describe your greatest challenge to date. What lessons
did you learn?
What are you going to do for this company that
someone else could not do?
What do you know about this company?
What skills do you possess that are relevant to this
How do you feel about working overtime?
When will you graduate?
In which activities and organizations are you involved?
What types of leadership roles have you had?
What school courses have prepared you for this job?
Do you have any volunteer or community service
experience you would like to tell us about?
What are your immediate career goals? What are your
long-range career goals? (Interviewers may ask various
questions pertaining to this question.)
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Tell us about a project you have successfully completed
and how you got the work done.
What is the most difficult challenge you have faced in
your life and how did you handle it?

Our company requires mandatory drug testing. How do
you feel about this?
How do you build relationships with others?
What specific or unique contributions do you believe you
can bring to our organization?
What high school, church or community activity has
given you the most satisfaction and why?
What one class, teacher, book or experience has
changed the way you think? How?
What have you learned from someone who is very
different from you?
Why did you select our company?
What motivates you to do a good job?
Did you ever have a disagreement with your boss or
another co-worker? Describe what happened and how
you handled it.
Tell me about your most current or last job.
Did/do you enjoy school? What did/do you like the
most? Least?
What extracurricular activities did/do you participate in
(include sports)?
Last year how many days of work and/or school did you
miss? How many times were you late?
What do you do to relax after work or school?
Have you ever been fired from a
Tell me about your favorite
How are you unique?
How do you handle stress?

Can you tell me about a goal you set for yourself?
Tell me about a time when you broke the rules.
Please tell me a time when you showed initiative at work (or
Describe a time when you had to work with a difficult person.
Describe your ability to deal with conflict.
If you were doing the hiring for this position, what qualities
would you be looking for?
How would your former boss or teacher describe you?
If there was one area that you would want to improve upon
what would that be?
Give me a specific time when you were confronted with a
policy that you did not agree with and how did you handle it?
How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time?
Give some examples.
What is the biggest mistake you ever made?
Why did you decide to become___________?
Tell me what you think this job will entail.
Why should I hire you instead of someone more qualified or
with more experience?
What salary or wage are you looking for?
What will your manager say when you give notice that you
are leaving?
In school what courses did you enjoy the most? Which ones
were most difficult?
Tell me what you would do if one supervisor told you to do
one thing and another supervisor told you not to do it or to
do something else.
Who did you ask to serve as your references and why did you
select them?

Would you rather be in charge of a project or work as part
of the team? Why?
What are 3 things you look for when considering a new
Please tell me about a time when you had to motivate a
coworker or peer.
What skills or requirements do you think are needed for
this job?
Why is customer service so important in businesses today?
Tell me about the toughest boss you have ever worked for.
Why do you want to leave your current job or why did you
leave your last job?
Do you plan to continue your education?
What salary were you paid on your last job?
Are you at your best when you are working alone or in a
Tell me how you keep a positive attitude when the job gets
Tell me about a time when you were disappointed and how
you resolved it.
Can you tell me about a time when a supervisor (or
teacher) was not pleased with your work, how did you
resolve the situation?
Describe a problem you faced and how you solved that
Describe a difficult decision you had to make.

Tell me about a time when you were swamped with work
and how you handled it.
What quality or attribute do you think will contribute the
most to career success?
Which is more importantcreativity or efficiency? Why?
What kinds of things in school or work have you done that
went beyond your expectations?
Give me an example of a time when you had to go beyond
the call of duty to get a job done.
Describe a time when you had to deal with someone who
did not like you. How did you handle it?
What is the most competitive work or school situation you
have experienced? How did you handle it? What was the
Tell me about a time when you failed.
Tell me about a project you worked on.
Okay, you have one minute to convince me that you are the
best person for this job. Begin.
Provide an example of how you can be a team player?
How would you describe your leadership skills?
What 2 or 3 things are most important for you in a job?
By providing examples, convince me you can adapt to a
wide variety of people, situations, and environment.
Sometimes it is easy to get in over your head. Describe a
time when you had to ask for assistance on a project or
Give an example of when you had to work with someone
who was difficult to get along with. Why was this person
difficult? How did you handle that person?
Give 2 examples of things youve done in previous work or
school that demonstrate your willingness to work hard.
Have questions ready to ask the employer
at the end of the interview:

Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?

What is the top priority of the person who accepts this job?
What are the day-to-day expectations and responsibilities of
this job?
How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be
measured? And by whom? How often?
Can you describe the companys (or divisions or departments)
management style?
Can you discuss your take on the companys corporate culture?
How would you describe the companys values?
How would you characterize the management philosophy of
this organization? Of your department?
Does the organization support ongoing training and education
for employees to stay current in their fields?
What do you think is the greatest opportunity facing the
organization in the near future? The biggest threat?
Why did you come to work here? What keeps you here?
How is this department perceived within the organization?
Is there a formal process for advancement within the
What are the traits and skills of people who are the most
successful within the organization?
What is the organizations policy on transfers to other divisions
or other offices?
What is the selection timeline and how will candidates be
notified about this position?

**Never ask about salary, vacation days,

employee discounts or other fringe benefits
during a first interview.
Take a look at an example of how you may
be evaluated during your interview:

Competency Meets Quality Standards Points

First Impressions Appearance is professional 5

neat, well-groomed, and ap-
propriate attire. Friendly and
courteous to all involved in
the interview. Used proper
Interview Skills/ Professional behavior and 5
Techniques language (proper grammar,
good pronunciation, enuncia-
tion, tone and volume). Good
posture (sitting up straight),
did not fidget.
Personal Attributes Confident and poised during 5
interview; was positive, sin-
cere, courteous, good eye
contact and gestures, nice
sense of humor.

Responding to Questions Able to effectively communi- 5

cate their thoughts. Leader-
ship skills and community ser-
vice are evident. Demonstrat-
ed initiative, enthusiasm and
problem-solving abilities.
Showed evidence of good
work habits and required job
skills. Showed knowledge of
position and company.

Meets Minimal Standards Points Does Not Meet Stand- Points
Overall appearance is fair- 3-4 Overall appearance is 1-2
ly neat. Greeting is appro- not professional. No
priate, but casual (uses handshake or greeting.
hi). Weak handshake.

Language and grammar 3-4 Unfriendly and not cour- 1-2

are adequate. Says um teous to those involved.
or and a few times, but Speaks a little too fast or
not enough to disrupt the too slow.
interview. Speaks too
loudly or softly at times.
Somewhat nervous, some 3-4 Overbearing, overag- 1-2
lapses in eye contact; fair gressive, egotistical; or
posture, a bit dry and a shy, reserved, and/or
little unengaged. overly nervous. Poor
posture. Distracted.
Little to no eye contact.
Able to communicate 3-4 Not able to communi- 1-2
well. Leadership skills, cate well. Leadership
community service, prob- skills, community ser-
lem-solving skills and fair vice, problem-solving
work habits are some- skills and work habits
what evident. Showed are not evident. Did not
some knowledge of posi- demonstrate knowledge
tion and company. of position or company.

Lets look at some typical questions you
might be asked during a college or
scholarship interview:
Personal Characteristics / Skills / Strengths:
Tell me about yourself.
What is your strongest personal asset?
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a student?
Name 3 strengths that you have and why you consider
these strengths.
What would one of your friends/teachers/supervisors
say about you?
What would a supervisor or professor tell me are your

Academic Experiences/Performance:
Why did you major in _________?
Why did you choose to attend ___________ College/
When did you choose to enter this occupational field and
How did you make the decision to apply to our program?
What other programs did you consider?
How has your high school background prepared you for
our program?
What courses have you enjoyed the most?
What courses have been most difficult for you?
What satisfaction have you gained from your studies?
Tell me about a research project you have completed.
Do you feel your academic record accurately reflects
your abilities and potential?
Do you feel you have worked to your full potential?

How would you rate yourself in the following areas?
1. Reading and Comprehension
2. Analytical Skills
3. Communication oral and written, listening
What didnt you like about your high school?
Tell me about a teacher or supervisor that you didnt like
and why.
Why would you be an asset to our department? How
would you be able to contribute to our program?
What skills and experiences do you feel have prepared
you for admission to this program?
Why should we consider you for our program instead of
several other equally qualified candidates?
How many programs have you applied to besides our
What will you do if you are not accepted into our
What skills or abilities do you hope to strengthen
through our program?

Extracurricular Activities:
What extracurricular activity has been most satisfying to
What is the most significant contribution you have made
to your school?
What activities do you enjoy most outside of the
Do you have any hobbies or outside interests?
Tell me about any volunteer or community service
experiences in which you have participated.

What challenges do you think you might face in college?
What would you say is an area in which you need
What would you change about yourself and why?

What has motivated you to pursue this academic field?
What are your short-term and long-term goals?
Why do you want a graduate degree in ___________?
How do you see this program fitting into your career
Tell me about a goal you have set for yourself and how
you have achieved it or intend to achieve it.

Leadership/Teamwork/Problem Solving Skills:

Tell me about a major accomplishment and how you
achieved it.
Tell me about a situation in which you showed initiative.
Tell me about a group in which you were involved. How
did you contribute to make this group achieve a goal?
Tell me about a time you assumed a leadership role.
Tell me about a recent significant problem you faced and
how you handled it.
Tell me how you handle stress.
Tell me about a time you had a number of assignments
due. How did you make sure you completed all of them
on time and did a good job?
Tell me about a time when you were confronted by a
fellow student, co-worker or a customer. How did you
handle it to resolve the conflict?
Tell me about a time you were faced with a difficult
situation and how you handled it.

Tell me about a mistake you made and how you handled
Define teamwork (or success quality fairness).
What was the last book you read or movie you saw?
How will you make the world a better place?
If you could have dinner with someone (living or dead),
who would that person be?

Field Specific Questions & Current Events:

You will undoubtedly encounter questions that relate
specifically to your chosen field of study. Be certain that you
are aware of current trends, issues and controversy in your
field so that you will be able to answer questions intelligibly.
Below are a few examples:

What do you believe to be the major trends in your

intended career field at this time?
What do you think about _____________ (current
What problem in the world troubles you most? What
would you do about it?
What is the most important development in this field
over the past 25 years, and why?

Questions Applicants Might Ask an Interviewer:
Asking questions not only helps you as a candidate
determine the fit of the program with your desired
academic and career objectives, but it also communicates to
the selection committee the extent of your interest in their

What characteristics distinguish this program from

others in the same academic field?
How long does typically it take to complete the
Where are recent alumni employed? What do most
graduates do after graduation?
What types of financial aid are offered? What criteria are
used for choosing recipients?
What opportunities are available through the program to
gain practical work experience? Are there
opportunities such as assistantships,
fellowships or internships available?
What are the deadlines to apply for
these opportunities?
Are there any scholarships or fellowships available? How
do I apply?
Do most students publish an article/conduct research
prior to graduation?
I've read articles written by ________ and ________. To
what extent are students involved in assisting these
faculty members with related research projects?
What types of research projects are current students
How are high school test scores, grades, letters of
recommendations, and personal statements evaluated
for the admissions process?

Interview Mistakes to Avoid
Taking a cell phone call or text during
the interview.
Bringing an uninvited friend or
family member with you.
Not showing up for the interview.
Showing up late and unprepared.
Having a negative attitude.
Not knowing what the company does or why you
want to work for the company.
Not knowing what the job entails.
Being overly concerned with wages, paid vaca-
tions, sick days and benefits.
Complaining about your former job, former boss,
or former co-workers.
Not asking questions.
Bringing food or beverages into an interview.
Using crude language.
Assuming that because you got an interview you
also got the job.
Dressing too casually for an interview.
Not listening, giving evasive answers.
Interrupting, arguing with the
Exaggerating about your abili-
ties, skills or accomplishments.
Showing a lack of interest in the
Getting your parents involved.
Poor verbal/written skills.
What documents will you need?
Cover Letter (or Letter of Application)

Use an attractive personal letterhead.

Avoid email addresses that are inappropriate
such as napsarelife@yahoo.com . Using a
professional address demonstrates maturity and
an eagerness to enter the world of work.
Use the hiring managers name.
Dont forget to sign your cover letter!

Opening paragraph:
Explain the reason for the letter and/or identify
the position youre seeking.
Mention how you learned of the position
(newspaper, career placement center, name of
Middle paragraph:
Demonstrate knowledge and interest in the
Address your ability to contribute to the
employer's needs.
Give examples of your relevant qualifications,
accomplishments, and skills. Refer the reader to
the rsum for details (can be included in any
paragraph if placement is logical).
Closing paragraph
End with an action statement - a request for a
personal interview.
If youre inquiring about possible employment
(not advertised), take the initiative.
Mention that youll call to arrange an interview at
the employer's convenience.
Express your thanks.


For more information on helpful cover letter and resume tips, visit



Special thanks for contributions from Mr. Johnathan Grismore and the
Business Professionals of America student organization.


Use a neat, attractive style.

Use current contact information.
Describe your goal.
List your education and work experience.
Include dates and accomplishments and the type of
diploma earned (if you have not graduated yet, you may
put Graduation pending and the date).
Include skills, extra-curricular activities (and any offices
you have held) honors and awards.
Keep it limited to 1 page.

Follow-up Thank You Letter
Send a short thank you note to the interviewer.

Thank them for taking the time to meet with you.

Express your desire for the position.
Give 1 or 2 additional reasons why you would be a good
fit for the job.
Mail it within 24 hours of your interview.
Use the same letterhead design that you used with your
cover letter.

Select 3 people who can give you a recommendation.

Do not use family members.

Teachers, coaches, administrators, pastors, or other
responsible adults who can attest to your work ethic,
values, characteristics, etc
Avoid using previous supervisorsif they wish to contact
them they can be found with your previous employment.
You will need their full name, address, (include number
and street, city, state and zip code), email address and
phone number .

Application Tips
You may be filling out an application online or may have to
complete it by hand.

If completing by hand, be sure to use either blue or black

Print legibly.
Avoid leaving any blanks.
Write N/A (not applicable) on any questions that do not
pertain to you.
If asked about desired salary, write the word open and
avoid putting in an amount.
Zionsville Community High School
1000 Mulberry Street, Zionsville, Indiana 46077
(317) 873-3355 Fax: (317) 873-8002


For more information, please see College & Career Transition Coordinator
Mrs. Dana Nelson, Extended Experiences Coordinator Mrs. Adelpha Twyman,
or any of the Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership Program staff:
Mr. Gil Speer (department chair), BPA Advisor Mr. Johnathan Grismore, Mrs. Kerri Lines,
Mr. Jason Donkersloot, Internship Coordinator Mrs. Diann Vernon