Research Yourself

  • Clarify the skills and abilities you have to offer an employer, preparing a concrete, tangible example for each
  • Develop a list of your five to seven strongest skills for a particular position
  • Review the CDC’s work-related values inventory, selecting the ten top values as factors to help you find the right organizational fit
  • Work with a counselor to explore your skills, interests, personality style, and values as they relate to your career choice

Research the Position/Field

  • Research the career field/position you are pursuing to convince yourself this is an occupation you would enjoy (it’s much easier to convince a potential employer once you’ve convinced yourself)
  • Research career fields using resources in the CDC's Career Resource Library and the Research Career Fields page
  • Talk with personal contacts and alumni, available through CareerConnect, about the nature of their work and the organization they represent
  • When a job description is available, list the key skills being sought so that you can match your skills/strengths with the needs being listed

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Research the Organization

  • Conduct thorough research on the organization, developing a checklist of information to share with the interviewer during the interview
  • View CDC publications and resources listed in the Researching Employers section
  • Visit the organization’s website
  • Prepare questions to ask about the organization during the interview

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Prepare for Questions

  • Review the commonly asked interviewing questions and prepare answers in advance
  • Answer questions using specific examples to support your response. Think of the acronym STAR (situation/task, action, and result), to focus on specific experiences to support your responses:
    • Situation/Task - describe a task or project for which you had responsibility
    • Action - talk about the approach you took to deal with the situation
    • Result - discuss the outcome of your action, making sure to mention accomplishments or improvements resulting from your efforts
  • Emphasize the most relevant and impressive aspects of your background and qualifications (including paid and volunteer work) and don’t be afraid to talk about accomplishments and skills
  • Highlight the skills that you have developed that are transferable to the potential employer
  • Speak in positive terms about previous experiences and employers
  • Assume that what you don’t tell an interviewer, she/he won’t know
  • Don't assume that the interviewer has read your resume in depth

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Practice Interviewing

  • Access InterviewStream at, to conduct and record practice interviews via your webcam.  You can select from a menu of questions representing various career fields including Business, Consulting, Education, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Environmental, Information Technology, Law, Medicine, Public Policy, and Sciences.  Once you've completed the interview, you can review your performance, evaluate areas that need work, and email the video to friends and family for feedback.
  • Talk with a CDC Counselor about how to best present yourself and schedule a mock or practice interview. Mock interviews, conducted in 45 minute appointments, enable you to practice answering typical interview questions and receive feedback on your responses
  • Have a friend play the part of the interviewer to enable you to practice your responses; ask for constructive criticism
  • Attend one of the Interviewing Workshops conducted at the CDC

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Lack of Preparation = Rejection

  • Lack of Self-Knowledge
    An interviewer cannot determine where you fit into the organization until you explain your career interests and applicable skills
  • Lack of Company Knowledge
    Most employers make information about themselves readily available, especially if they recruit on campus. Failure to review company information demonstrates a lack of interest and initiative
  • Lack of Questions
    When employers ask if you have any questions for them, a negative response indicates a lack of interest on your part
  • Lack of Enthusiasm
    Employers want to hire someone who is excited about the prospect of working with their organization
  • Lack of Confidence
    If you doubt your ability to do the job, an employer will also experience doubt
  • Poor Communication Skills
    The employer must be able to hear you, understand your words, and follow your train of thought. The inability to communicate necessary information indicates a lack of practice
  • Unprofessional Application or Appearance
    It is true that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. If your resume is sloppy or has typos, you are at an immediate disadvantage and may not get an opportunity to interview. Additionally, if you present yourself at an interview inappropriately dressed, an employer may decide you wouldn’t fit into their organization

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Helpful Hints

  • Arrive Early
    Ten to fifteen minutes can provide you with a cushion should some unforeseen problem occur
  • Bring Along Extra Copies of Your Resume
    If the interviewer has misplaced your information this will assist them and add to your image as a prepared person
  • Maintain Eye Contact  
    Unwillingness to look someone in the eye is often taken as evasiveness
  • Ask for Clarification
    If you’re confused by a question, ask the interviewer to restate it. This shows poise on your part and allows you to answer questions appropriately
  • Be Yourself
    Interviewers respond well to those candidates they feel are being sincere and genuine

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