Thursday, March 29, 2018

Interview Tips for the Best of the Best!

Business situation, job interview concept. Job seeker present resume to managers. Free Photo

By Marissa McCrae, Career Assistant (Work Study student)

It’s about that time of year again, where graduate schools and summer jobs start calling candidates for interviews. I have compiled my best tips and tricks for you to help you out.

Before I begin, some of you may be asking, what exactly is an interview? 

  • An interview is a way for one person to get to know another by asking questions about intent, qualifications, and areas interest.1 Interviews are used all the time for many different purposes, and around this time of year, graduate/professional schools, in addition to summer jobs, are on the hunt for students like yourself.

In addition, there are many types of interviews. Some of which include:

  • One-on-one interview: Just the interviewer and the candidate are in the same room, in person. 
  • Panel interview: One candidate with a group of interviewers, each asking their own questions. 
  • Group interview: One interviewer with a group of candidates all being interviewed at the same time. 
  • Skype interview: One or more interviewer with one candidate being interviewed over a Skype video call. This usually is the case when a candidate is being interviewed by people in different areas around the world. 
  • Phone call interview: One interviewer and one candidate in an interview over the phone. Sometimes, this form is used to screen for the best candidates to bring in for an in-person interview. 
  • Multi-step interview: This style of interview includes many different types of interviews in a step-by-step style. Each step is a screening process, and successful candidates at each step will be given the chance to interview in a more in-depth style of interview. 
  • Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI): An interview style most often used by graduate schools in the medical field (including Pharmacy) to assess a variety of skills. This style usually has a number of rotations, each rotation assessing a different skill. Some of the skills include communication, collaboration, ethical thinking, critical thinking, etc.1  These rotations are about 6-8 minutes long each with about a 2-minute break in between each rotation, depending on the graduate school and program. 
  • Multiple Personal Interviews (MPI): a new type of interview, used mainly by the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, that is similar to MMIs, but more focused on who you are as a person.2

For more information, please visit:

Now that you know more about interviews, here are some of my top 10 tips and tricks to help you get through the toughest of interviews:

Dress to Impress!

I know it has been said many, many times before, but I truly believe this tip is one of the most important to follow. It goes a long way when you look like you prepared yourself for the job. Even for retail or part-time jobs, I still like to showcase my professionalism. Dressing professionally can help you not only for interviews, but also if you choose to hand out resumes, speak with someone in an Admissions office, or even at a Graduate/Professional School fair. It can separate you from the rest of the crowd and make you stand out as an ideal candidate for the job or program. 

Have all Documents Prepared for Recall! 

For any type of interview, I like to have a copy of my resume, cover letter, and any supplementary documents submitted within the application, such as references, answers to additional questions, etc. For in-person interviews, I also like to have a copy for the interviewer(s), just in case they ask for it. It will make you look well prepared and organized. In addition, sometimes the interviewer will ask you to have extra items prepared for the interview. Ensure you have everything in a binder that is easily accessible to you in the interview. 

10 minutes early is 5 minutes late!

Arrive at least 15 minutes early. Showing up early is a great way to show the interviewer that you care and that you respect their time. Avoid being late by taking precautionary measures, such as preparing everything the night before: including your outfit, documents, directions for travel, etc. If you anticipate being late due to unexpected events, make sure you communicate this to the interviewer. Unfortunately, unanticipated circumstances do come up, and usually people are understanding if you keep an open line of communication. 

Communicate Clearly!

Make sure you are able to convey your ideas and answers clearly and concisely. Rambling is not valued in an interview! Practice answering questions in a concise manner, and take time to think before speaking. It is easy to answer a question about a certain situation and get carried away on something that isn’t relevant to the question asked. If you need clarification from the interviewer, don’t be afraid to ask! Create your own set of questions, or use the interview guide found here: Role play with your friends, book an appointment with a Career Counselor, and continue to practice!

Ask Your Own Questions. 
At the end of an interview, there is always one question that seems the most difficult to answer: “Do you have any questions for me?” An interview often seems like a one-way line of communication; however, I believe it should be able to go two ways. This is your chance to ask the interviewer any questions you have about the job, program, qualifications, expectations, or any other question about the field of work or program you are applying to. For example, you can ask questions about the company's website, initiatives they take part in, statistics about the company or school, etc. Asking questions provides the opportunity to promote your keen interest in the position/program. 

Interviews That are not in Person:
Skype interviews are essentially face-to-face, but not in the same room. It is important that you still dress to impress! The interviewer will be able to see you, so treat it just like an in-person interview. It is also very important that you do Skype and phone interviews in a quiet and neutral place, like an office or a room that doesn’t have any clutter. In addition, is essential that you are well hydrated and in a quiet environment so that you and the interviewer are able to hear each other well. Sitting up straight and in a chair is the best way to ensure your conversation is clear so the interview can carry on with no interruptions.

Use AA&CC resources! 
Last, but not least, Academic Advising & Career Centre has many workshops and services that can help you land the job. We offer Mock MMIs, Mock Interview Sessions, Career Advising drop-ins and appointments, Rapid Resume Reviews, and many more services available to current University of Toronto students, as well as recent graduates up to two years after convocation. To find out more about all our workshops and events, visit the Career Learning Network by clicking here:

The following resources may be of assistance to you in preparing for your interview:
I hope these tips and resources help you land the job of your dreams.

Good luck!

Marissa McCrae
Career Assistant, AA&CC



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