Interviewing


Before the Interview

Just as with an exam, interviews require a great deal of preparation. In order to do well, you have to assess your knowledge of the position, study the employer, and anticipate difficult questions. A successful candidate will review the job description, research the employer, review their experiences, and practice, practice, practice!

Step 1 - Interview Preparation

This tool is an excellent way to practice by yourself using a webcam, how to respond to common interview questions. Click this link to find out how to get started!

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Step 2 - Once you are satisfied with your practice interview, make an appointment with a counselor by calling 510-885-3621 at the Hayward campus, or 925-602-6700 at Concord campus.

Step 3 - Review your interview recording with a career counselor for feedback and suggestion for improvement.    


The Interview

O.K. So you've received the ever-anticipated call for an interview. Now what? You've researched and prepared - now it's time to deliver. Beyond Interview Stream, the resources below will provide information to help you feel prepared on the big day.

After the Interview

Whew - you did it! It's time to breathe a sign of relief. End the interview with a handshake and thank the interviewer. Reiterate your interest in the position and your qualifications. Ask the interview what their hiring timeline is, or if you may telephone in a few days to check on the status of your application. If they offer to contact you, politely ask when you should expect the call. Be sure to get the interviewer's business card! Be sure to send a Thank You Letter immediately following.

Follow up with a phone call if you are not contacted by the time indicated by the interviewer.

Example: "Hi, this is Jan Doe, I interviewed for the position in your Marketing department two weeks ago. I'm calling to find out where you are in the hiring process, because I'm very interested in the position."

Offers and Rejections

Inevitably, you will receive either an offer or a rejection from the job you are applying for. The information below will help you navigate your way through the process.

Rejections

It is bound to happen: you researched the position, knew everything about the company from its conception to current-day successes, and brought your "A" game to the interview - and yet, you receive the "Thanks, but no thanks" letter. You can't let it bring you down. Rejections bring you another step closer to offers - there is always something to learn, something to improve on.  If you do find yourself getting discouraged, take a day (or two!) off from the job search and take a break. When you get back to it, spend some time re-evaluating your search and consider some new strategies to use. The key to your success is persistence!

Offers

Offer letters typically provide formal written confirmation of the position offered, and clarification of terms such as:

  • Job/Internship title
  • Salary
  • Start date
  • Supervisor's name
  • Deadline for responding

The employer will also let you know if the offer is contingent upon passing a background check or drug screening. You may also receive information on benefits such as health insurance, employee wellness programs, vacation and sick leave. If you do not receive information on the benefits packages, you can always ask the employer to send it to you before making your decision.

Asking for more time:

It is very tempting to accept a job offer on the spot - especially if this is your first one and you're feeling unsure about other prospects. DON'T! You have the right to ask for time to consider the options and think it through. During the Fall quarter, employers tend to allow more time to consider offers than during the Winter and Spring when organizations feel more pressure to finalize their hiring. When asking for more time, you might say something like "I am very excited to work for X Organization. This is a major decision and I'd like more time to think about it." Organizations are prepared for this and are typically more than willing to allow you time to make the right decision.

First offer not the one you really wanted:

You may receive an offer from one organization before a preferred employer extends an offer. It's o.k. to call the other organization and let them know you have received another offer, but that you prefer their opportunity. If your first choice company is truly interested in you, they may speed up their process. If your first choice company is unable to speed up their process, or if the company who made the offer is unwilling to extend your deadline, you may have a tough decision to make. Be sure you have made all considerations before moving forward.

What to consider:

Before accepting or declining a job offer, consider the following:

  • Job responsibilities. type of work, supervision, co-workers
  • Salary range, benefits, job security
  • Geographical location, required travel
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Size of the company, company culture, reputation

Accepting an offer:

  • Write a letter or e-mail confirming your acceptance, even if you have done so verbally
  • Confirm the starting date and time
  • Confirm the salary and any other negotiated items
  • Keep a copy for your files
  • Follow-up with all outstanding companies that you have interviewed to update your status

Declining an offer:

  • Write a letter or e-mail stating your appreciation, but declining the offer, even if you have done so verbally
  • You may state the reason you are declining, but you are not obligated to do so

See our Guide-to-Go on Accepting/Declining Job Offers

Negotiating a Salary

If you choose to negotiate, approach the employer early in your decision-making process and maintain professionalism throughout all interactions. Be prepared to present an appropriate salary range for the position. Before you contact the employer, plan what you want to say and practice aloud. Evaluate carefully what you have to offer that would be worth the extra salary - excellent grades, career related experience, specialized course work, strong leadership skills, proven performance in a particular area, or competing job offers. You can find salary information online, however, entry level salaries in the Bay Area are higher than salaries in other states. National salary surveys often reflect mid-level rather than entry-level salaries.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has put together a Salary Calculator with salary data for more than 500 occupations in 560 regions in the United States. Salary.com provides salary information by job type and region.

In some instances you may want to negotiate in other areas in addition to salary. In other cases, the organization may have stated in their offer that their salary is not negotiable. You don't need to feel trapped - there are other things to negotiate!

  • Start date
  • Early performance and salary review
  • Bonuses
  • Vacation
  • Professional development
  • Flex time
  • Relocation expenses

See our Guide-to-Go: Negotiating a Job Offer

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