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Students - Career Services

Interview Preparation & Practice


Career Services
Student Success Center
Upper Jewell Bldg #3344


KCKCC Career Services offers one-on-one guidance and assistance to help students prepare for and practice interviewing skills. 

The interview is where you and the employer figure out if you are a good fit for the position and the organization. It is common to feel nervous about interviewing, but there is a lot you can do to prepare, and we are happy to help!

Make an appointment or contact us with questions. Workshops are also available throughout the semester, and our interviewing guide is available in Handshake - in the app, go to Account → Career Center → Resources.

Before the Interview - Preparation

Know Yourself

  • What are your skills, abilities, values and strengths?
  • Why are you qualified for this position?
  • Review behavioral/situational interview questions - you can have a few situations/examples ready ahead of time that you are comfortable talking about
Know Your Potential Employer
  • Research the organization – know their mission and culture, think about how you will fit in
  • Read up on any new, upcoming or exciting products/services/initiatives going on
  • Know what role the interviewer is in at the organization and what type of interview it will be
  • Review the job description, HR benefits and any other materials that are sent to you ahead of time
Practice, Practice, Practice!!
  • Mock interview with Career Services
  • Ask Career Services to help you come up with answers to questions that you're unsure about
  • Video record yourself practicing, practice in Zoom with your camera on or practice in front of a mirror
  • Practice with a friend, spouse, parent, mentor or other trusted professional
  • Becoming familiar answering different types of questions will help you feel more comfortable during the interview

Things to Remember

  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early and do not bring anyone with you
  • Treat everyone you meet as if they are making the hiring decision - receptionists, custodians, etc.
  • For virtual interviews, set up lighting and background beforehand, make sure all technology is working
  • Maintain good eye contact – with all interviewers
  • Bring paper and pen with you to write down names of interviewers for following up after the interview, along with any other important information about the position they share with you
  • Do not use slang or abbreviations that aren't’t specific to their industry/company
  • Be concise: do not ramble, make sure to use complete sentences and know when to stop
  • Be honest, but always in a positive light - even when describing any shortcomings
  • Be friendly and engaged – don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm!
  • Turn your phone off

Common Questions & Topics

  • Tell me about yourself (or some form of this)
    • Create your answer for this ahead of time, and practice! Give an overview of the things that make you a great fit for the position (a combination of your education, skills, experience, and strengths) and how/why you are excited about this opportunity. Do not include personal information. 
  • Greatest strengths and/or achievements
    • Be ready with examples of your strengths and of work or projects that you are proud of.
  • Questions asking how your skills, education, and experience will make you great in this position
    • Know why you would be great in the job, practice talking about each of these areas
  • The negatives: weakness, conflicts, challenges
    • Always flip to a positive! Use a professional example, not one about your personal life, and start by saying that you used to struggle with/dislike/get nervous about ______, but over the last couple of years (or during your time at KCKCC), you were able to learn and work on it, and now it's not really a problem anymore.  
    • See STAR method below for explaining situations
  • Behavioral/Situational Questions - "Tell us about a time when..." or "What would you do if..."
    • Keep answers relevant to the job/industry – practice talking about challenges or other situations ahead of time, use STAR method
  • Why should we hire you?
    • This is going to be really similar to your "Tell me about yourself" answer - a combination of your education, skills, experience, dedication/passion for the field and personality.
  • Why are you leaving/have you left your current/previous position?
    • Be positive. Focus on why you want to move into the new role instead of why you left/are leaving. Do not badmouth your previous company or supervisor. 

The STAR Method

  • First, describe the SITUATION and context for what happened.
  • Next, describe the TASK, or what challenge/issue needed to be addressed.
  • Then explain the ACTION you took - what did you do? What resources or tools did you use? Did you collaborate with anyone? 
  • Finally, make sure to describe the RESULT or outcome. How did it all turn out? Give specific numbers or other facts about the results if possible.

Questions for the Interviewer

Always prepare 3-5 questions to ask at the conclusion of the interview to gather information and see if you think this employer will be a good fit.

It is not a good idea to ask about salaries or benefits during the interview - wait until an offer is made to ask for specifics, that's when you have the most negotiating power.

Good questions to ask might include:

  • What characteristics are most important to excel in this role?
  • What are some future goals or projects for this organization/department?
  • What are your expectations/plans for the first 30 days, 90 days, and year for this position?
  • What do you think is the best (or most challenging) thing about working here?
  • How would you describe the work environment/culture at your company and in this office?
  • Specific questions related to their mission, company principles, etc.
  • What is the timeline for hiring this position, or what are the next steps in the hiring process?

After the Interview

  • Record your observations - Doing this will help if you need to ask the employer additional questions
  • Self-Evaluation - How did you feel during the interview? What questions did you answer well? Are there any questions you stumbled over? Did you learn new information about the organization? Do you think the interviewers now have adequate knowledge of your background and skills? (In case there is a second interview or if this doesn't’t end up being the job for you, this is a really good way to help you prepare for your next interview)
  • Record any information they gave you concerning salary, benefits, other job information, etc.
  • Always write a “thank you" email after an interview Do not turn in a pre-written note at the end of your interview - it needs to be specific to the interview you just completed.
  • Sample/template to use:

    Dear *name of interviewer, *

    Thank you so much for interviewing me today for the *NAME OF POSITION* position. I really enjoyed talking with you, and would be honored to be selected for this opportunity. *ADD STATEMENT ABOUT SOMETHING YOU LEARNED DURING INTERVIEW OR SOMETHING LIGHT AND FUNNY THAT IS PERSONAL TO YOUR CONVERSATION DURING THE INTERVIEW.*

    I really appreciated the time you took to learn more about me and the ways I believe I can contribute to your organization. I look forward to hearing from you again.


    *Your name*

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