Don’t be stumped by interview

Your mind goes blank, and you break out in a cold sweat as you grapple for the answer while your potential employers look on. It is not uncommon for students to be stumped by a question in a job interview, but it’s important to try to be prepared for those difficult and unexpected questions, said Chuck Dunning, associate director of University Career Services.

“If you’re caught completely off guard, it’s OK to ask for a few moments to think about your answer,” Dunning said.

Dunning advised students to never think out loud in an interview and to know what they’re going to say before you open your mouth.

In order to be well prepared for an interview, Dunning said, prior to the interview, students should write down at least six “peak moments” or experiences in which they excelled. Dunning said to make note of the skills and knowledge used in those moments. After doing this, Dunning said the student will be prepared for almost any question that may come up in an interview.

“Do your homework,” Dunning said. “And be prepared to answer technical questions.”

Dunning said making up an answer to a technical question related to the job, is a “job killer.”

“If you’re honest and show what you don’t know, employers will respect that,” Dunning said.

Sophomore criminal justice major Derek Townsend said a question that he’s been asked before is, “What do you have to offer?”

He said he answered the question but wasn’t sure what kind of answer the interviewers were looking for.

Career counseling intern Robert Phillip a question like that is an opportunity to talk about general skills in the field the interview is for. He said to highlight conflict resolution and interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a team and solve problems.

He also said he doesn’t like being asked if he can efficiently do the job he’s interviewing for.

“I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t,” Townsend said.

Sophomore e-business major James McCombs said an interview question that frustrated him was when the interviewer asked if he’d ever made a mistake.

“I focused on the positive and how I learned from that mistake,” McCombs said.

Phillip said it’s OK to talk about a time when a mistake, though not your worst one, was made and how it was used as a springboard to become more confident.