Job Search: Interviewing

CONGRATULATIONS - you've been selected for an interview! Preparation builds confidence, and the more prepared you are for an interview, the more successful the outcome is likely to be. Understanding the position, the department's mission, and anticipating and preparing for difficult questions are the keys to maximizing your chances for interview success.

Preparing for Interviews

Understand the Position

  • Understand the job duties and responsibilities for a particular role.

For example, if you are interviewing to be an Assistant III, SAO II, or an Administrative Analyst, be aware of the typical job duties and qualifications for that specific position.

  • At a minimum, review a copy of the job posting and highlight specific qualifications.

If you are still unclear about the nature of the position, review other open positions with the same job title/classification and network to gain a better understanding of the type of work you are pursuing.

  • Do not be discouraged if you do not meet all of the specified requirements. Instead, think about your transferable skills and how you can demonstrate your ability to perform the essential functions of the position.

Check Out the Department

  • Learn as much as you can about the department's mission and/or services. Information can be obtained from:
  • Article searches (use UC Berkeley Library Catalog or Google)
  • Attending departmental presentations/events
    (Upcoming events are often listed on the departmental website)
  • Networking
  • Understand how this department fits into UC Berkeley as a whole
    The best place to start your research is on the department's website (go to the UCB A-Z list of websites and search the alphabetical listing for the department name - most departments have their own website)

Why is this step so important?

  • Research will help you formulate thoughtful questions.
  • Through networking you can learn about opportunities in your field of interest and pick up inside information that will set you apart from other candidates.
  • With this information, you will be better able to explain why you are particularly interested in working for the department. In some cases, understanding the department might lead you to discover why it would not be the best fit for you.

Review Your Qualifications

Now that you know all about the position and the department, it's time to assess how your past experiences have prepared you. When reviewing your qualifications, consider all experiences valuable even if they do not directly relate to the position. Review the following:

  • Work experience
  • Internships
  • Volunteer experience
  • Interests and hobbies

For each experience, identify the skills and areas of knowledge you developed. Also, be able to say how the experience has prepared you for the job for which you are applying.

Expect Behavioral Based Interview Questions

Behavioral interviewing is popular with many search committees and you should prepare for this type of interview. It is based on the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

For example:
If you have shown initiative in a past project, the belief is that you are likely to show initiative when you are working for the department that is interviewing you.

Questions are designed to:

  • Determine if in your past behavior you have demonstrated the required knowledge, skills, and abilities identified for the job
  • Focus on skill areas that are most important to the hiring manager

You can prepare in advance by thinking in detail about how your experiences match the skills, knowledge, and abilities required for the position.

  • Behavioral interview tips and examples: Word or PDF
  • Tips for answering difficult interview questions: Word or PDF

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practicing your responses to specific questions will make you feel more at ease with your responses and, in turn, will make you more confident.

  • Interview practice tips: Word or PDF

Prepare for a Phone Interview

Increasingly, after reviewing your resume and cover letter, hiring managers conduct phone interviews as a second screen before inviting you to a panel interview. Don’t underestimate the importance of making a positive impression during the telephone interview. Here are the guidelines:

  • Schedule the interview at a time when you can give it 100% of your attention
  • Take the phone call in a quiet place
  • Jot down key points you want to make and questions you want to ask ahead of time
  • Keep a copy of your resume and the job description near the phone
  • Ask for clarification of questions being asked, if necessary, and think out your responses clearly before you answer
  • Always present the best of your background and show your enthusiasm for the position

Expect a Panel interview

At UC Berkeley we often conduct panel interviews. This means two or more people interview you at the same time. The panel is comprised of the Search Committee, and the hiring manager may or may not be on the panel.

  • Expect the Search Committee members to introduce themselves prior to opening with their first scripted question.
  • Search Committee members are often either from the department where the position is open, or they are some other kind of stakeholder (such as a customer or client).

When your interview is scheduled, ask for a list of the Search Committee members and use Calnet Directory Services to research who they are and their relationship to the open position. You will be able to gain insight into the position by seeing the titles and departments of the stakeholders. Be sure to remember to try to make eye contact with all Search Committee members during your interview.

Prepare Questions to Ask Your Interviewers

By asking thoughtful questions, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your interest in working for their department. Also, if given an offer, you will be able to make an intelligent decision about whether or not to accept.

  • Tips on questions to ask during your interview: Word or PDF

Closing the Interview

After you have finished your questions, you will probably hear a comment similar to, "Well, if you don't have anything else, that should be all for today. Thanks for coming." This is an opportune time to make a strong closing statement by summarizing your qualifications and expressing your interest in the position.

Closing Interview Sample Script:

Here's a sample script to get you started on your own personalized closing:

"This sounds like an exciting opportunity — just the kind I am looking for. I believe my (insert your most relevant strengths and experience here) make me a good candidate for this position. I look forward to the next step in the selection process."