You've got them talking. Now, it's time to ace the interview. The Walter Center team is here to help you make a good impression and secure an offer, offering fully-equipped, private interview rooms for your virtual interview, opportunities for interview prep with our career coaches, and our four-part formula for interviewing success:
Step 3: interview + negotiation
Learn as much as possible about the organization
- What is the mission, goal, or purpose of the organization?
- What kind of content do you see on its official website?
- Has the company been in the news recently?
- What projects or initiatives are they currently working on?
- How much do you know about the culture of the organization? How big is the organization? How many employees does it have?
Talk to anyone you know who works at the organization/company or check the Walter Center Success Network or LinkedIn to see if you can connect with any alums who are working or have worked for the company.
+ Use the SPAR Method
With the skills and important aspects of the job description in mind, use the SPAR method to help prepare yourself for possible interview responses.
Situation + Problem + Action + Result
When you use SPAR, you can develop a few examples that can be used to answer multiple possible questions. For example:
Skill to Highlight
I was participating in a research project in the Cognition and Action Neuroimaging lab where we manage toddlers' interactions and behaviors.
One of the children got really sick during one of our sessions.
I took initiative and went to our emergency contact information database to contact the child's parent.
I was able to calm the child down without upsetting the other children and her father was really thankful for the way I handled the situation. He ensured us his daughter would be back to participate as soon as she was feeling better.
+ Prepare to ask questions
At the end of the interview, you will have the opportunity to ask the employer questions. Try to ask questions that genuinely interest you and display your knowledge of the organization. This could include questions like:
- What is the culture of the organization?
- How do you see new staff contributing to the initiative/project?
- What are your goals for this position in the first year?
Formula for brainstorming questions:
What I know + why I care + tell me more about…
What I know
I read that your company is increasing its philanthropic contributions by 20 percent
Why I care
I have always been passionate about fundraising for nonprofits
Tell me more about
Can you tell me more about this new initiative?
+ Prepare to answer questions
It's best to prepare for an interview by compiling your list of SPARs so you're ready for whatever might come your way. However, here are a few typical interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why are you interested in working with our organization?
- What is one of your greatest strengths?
- What is one of your greatest weaknesses?
- You can always use the career guides online or Google to find industry specific interview questions as well.
+ Before going to the interview
- Bring a portfolio or notepad, extra copies of your resume, and a list of questions to ask the employer
- Give yourself time to travel and arrive a few minutes early. Look up the parking situation, building address, and directions before you're in the car
- Have the office phone number handy in case you need to contact them
Your best outfit + your confidence = a great first impression. These tips outline commonly accepted attire for interviewing. However, you may want to tailor your outfit depending on what industry you hope to be work in and your personal style.
collared button down, blouse, sweater
Appropriate length and neutral colors
Matching neutral colors
match belt, walk well in them
clean and neutral
Avoid these items: bold makeup, strong cologne or perfume, shorts and casual shoes
By sending a thank you note, you show your interviewer common courtesy and respect for their time. Since so few applicants send a thank you note, you'll automatically stand out if you do.
Thank you note tips
- Before you leave the interview, get business cards or write down names to ensure accuracy.
- Send thank you notes to each person who interviewed you within 24 to 48 hours of the interview. These can be handwritten or emailed.
- Be sure to thank your interviewers for their time, restate your interest and enthusiasm for the position, and mention something you discussed with the interviewer.
- Finally, check for spelling mistakes and typos before sending.
Negotiating a job offer
Negotiation is a process during which you and an employer come to a mutual agreement about the terms of your employment or your compensation package. Every job seeker can negotiate, but not every job seeker should negotiate. When deciding what is right for you, it is important to first have a clear understanding of your "market value." Consider what skills, knowledge, and experience you offer an employer, then consider how your profile satisfies the needs of the organization.
First, you want to determine what your offer is worth, and any additional expenses you might have. Knowledge of the position, its requirements, and the organization will help you place value on the offer. The following resources can assist you with researching aspects of an offer:
Many organizations do not negotiate entry salaries. However, negotiations can focus on many aspects of an offer. Health and retirement plans are usually standard for all employees, but (generally speaking) the following aspects of an offer are potentially negotiable:
- Relocation expenses
- Start date
How you negotiate, rather than simply what you say when you negotiate, may make the difference when an employer decides on a final job offer. If you conduct yourself with confidence, realism, and grace as you present your research, you will be far more persuasive than if you lacked an understanding on industry standards and organization resources. Simple and direct inquiries tend to yield the best results.
The employer should be the first to introduce the topic of compensation. Once this topic is broached, however, you should feel free to inquire about various aspects of the compensation package. These tips can help you prepare your negotiation delivery:
- Strike while the iron is hot—when an employer has decided you are essential to the organization and has offered you a position. Discuss a desirable decision date with your employer, so you have time to investigate the offer.
- If possible, negotiations should be conducted in person or over the phone, and then summarized in writing. A written record is more binding and allows you to examine both the salary and benefits.
Below are two examples of negotiation deliveries:
You have been offered a full-time position across the country, and will need to end your lease early, and pay to move all your furniture and belongings to your new city. After careful research, you have determined this will cost more money than you have, and will be making in the first few months on the job.
Assess relocation expenses by considering gas prices, moving company fees or similar fees, travel time to the new city, lease termination fees, and security deposits for a new living arrangement. Outline this budget concisely to present to an employer.
"After researching moving costs, and creating a budget for relocating to your city, I've realized that I will be struggling to cover expenses the first few months of my employment. Would it be possible for me to receive reimbursement in addition to my starting salary?"
You have been offered two full-time positions. After careful consideration, you conclude that Firm A matches your career objectives and values closer than Firm B; however, Firm B offers a significantly more competitive salary.
Research entry-level salaries for your career field; factor in the location of each job and cost of living. Compare both offers to the average salary. Outline this research concisely to present to Firm A.
"Thank you so much for offering me a position at Firm A. I have received another offer, which seems to match average compensation in this career field, while Firm A's offer is lower. Would we be able to negotiate my starting salary or an incentive/retention bonus?"