Know Yourself

Know Yourself

Employers seek candidates with direction and purpose.  Be prepared to discuss your skills and experience as they relate to the employer's needs. 

Identify Your Direction and Purpose

  • Why did you choose to pursue this career/job? What interests you about this field?  This is a very common question from employers.  They want to know why you are interested in working for them.  They are also looking to see that you are interested and enthusiastic about your chosen career field.
  • What kinds of things have you done to explore this career area and learn more about it?  Employers are looking for demonstrated commitment, interest, and enthusiasm.  The best way to show this is by sharing your past experiences related to your chosen career area.  Be prepared to describe your internship, volunteer, or work experience that may have helped you to learn more about the industry.  You can also share what you learned from your own research or informational interviews with current professionals or alumni in the industry/profession.
  • What are you immediate and long-term career goals?  No one expects you to know for certain where you will be or what you will be doing five years from now, but it is a good idea to have a plan for how you intend to reach your career goals.  Employers may inquire about your career goals for a variety of reasons.  If you consider this ahead of time, you won't be "stumped" during the interview.
  • Why do you believe you will be a good fit for this position and company? Consider what interested you about the position in the first place.  Does it include using skills you enjoy? Does the company philosophy match with your values?  Will you be able to work with a certain population of interest to you - or does it provide you the autonomy you crave?  Make your case to the employer.  Explain why you are the best candidate for this job.

Identify Your Skills and Experience

  • Evaluate current and previous work, volunteer, or project experience.  What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Did you work with particular groups of people, departments, equipment, staff, outside vendors, etc? What challenges did you experience and how did you handle them? What would you do differently? What experiences brought you the most satisfaction or enjoyment?  What did you enjoy the least?  Answering these questions before the interview will make it easier for you to discuss your experience with an employer during the interview.
  • Identify your strengths, as well as areas in which you need improvement.  Have honest discussions with friends, family, or your professors or advisors.  What do they think your strengths are, and what could you improve upon?  What will you do to work on these areas?  Knowing your weaknesses is just as important as knowing your strengths when it comes to the interviewing process.
  • Skills most often sought by employers:  Problem Solving/Reasoning, Communication/Listening, Interpersonal Communication/Relationship Building, Teamwork/Collaboration, Technical Proficiency (basic computer skills and/or additional technical skills which may be required for the profession)
  • Personal qualities desired by employers:  Positive Attitude, Honesty/Integrity, Energy/Enthusiasm, Strong Work Ethic/Dedication to Company, Flexibility/Adaptability to Change, Punctuality/Reliability, Willingness to Learn/Stay Current on Skills (embrace new processes, policies, and technology)