Preparing for an Interview

Purpose of an Interview

  • Allows you to learn more about the position/organization.
  • Gives you and the manager an opportunity to determine whether the job is a good fit for each of you.

Behavior-Based Interviews at Mayo Clinic

A behavior-based interview is a structured interview process that is commonly used for interviewing at Mayo. Candidates are asked to describe specific situations that they have experienced relative to the skill in question (e.g. teamwork). All candidates are asked the same set of questions. The interviewer(s) may read the questions to you and take notes during the interview.

Interviews with a panel are common at Mayo Clinic and may include three to five interviewers. Try to find out in advance if you will be interviewed by one person or a panel.

Planning for the Interview

Assess your skills and abilities:

  • What is important to me in a job?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my achievements? Accomplishments?
  • How does my education and work history relate to this position?
  • Do I work well in a team setting or do I prefer to work alone?
  • What problem solving skills do I have? • Do I perform better in a structured or unstructured environment?

Research the organization, department and/or the position.

  • Review the website, if applicable. What are the goals and the values?
  • Talk to others who work for the organization or are in a similar position.

Determine whether your interests, experience, abilities and goals match the job and fit with the department and Mayo Clinic.

  • Review the job posting to ensure that your education and experience meet the minimum requirements specified in the job posting.
  • Review the job posting to identify specific technical skills (job-specific skills needed to do the job, e.g., typing, operating certain equipment, etc.) and behavior-based skills (performance/behaviors in providing customer service or how you would respond to a given circumstance)

Preparing for Questions

Technical skills questions

  • Think about your past coursework and/or work experiences. How do they relate to this job?
  • List your work experiences and examples to support each.

Behavior-based skills questions (using past experiences and behaviors to demonstrate how you respond to a given circumstance)

  • Think of a specific time when you demonstrated each skill or ability.
  • Develop behavior-based questions you think might be asked during the interview.
  • Practice answering behavior-based questions.
Examples of Behavior-Based Questions:
  • Give me an example of a time when you handled a customer complaint. (customer service behavior)
  • Please describe a situation in which you experienced a lot of pressure in meeting deadlines. How did you handle the situation? (prioritization and planning skills, time management)
  • Tell us about a time when you had to communicate under difficult circumstances with a customer or a colleague. (communication skills)

Your own questions

  • What responsibilities would I have in this position?
  • What is a day like at Mayo Clinic and in the department?
  • What growth opportunities are available?
  • What is the orientation and training process?
  • What are the goals of the work unit and/or the department?

Answering Behavior-Based Questions Using the SHARE Model®

When answering behavior-based questions, it is important to give specific examples rather than a general answer. Use the SHARE model® to frame your responses.
S Describe a specific Situation.
H Identify Hindrances or challenges.
A Explain the Action that you took.
R Discuss the Results or outcome.
E Evaluate or summarize what you learned.

  • Practice answering behavior-based questions before the interview.
  • Take time to think of a good example rather than giving the first response that comes to mind. Short silences are expected.

Interviewing Tips

Prior to the Interview

  • When scheduling the interview, obtain the following information:
    • Time, date and location of interview.
    • The name(s) and title(s) of the interviewer(s).
    • Whether the interview will be a panel interview.
    • Whether you are to bring examples of your work or other supporting documents, etc.
  • Arrive at the interview at least 5 minutes early.
  • Dress in business attire.
  • Bring a copy of your resume for your own reference.

During an Interview

  • Be positive.
  • Provide specific examples.
  • Ask for clarification if you don't understand a question.
  • Refer to notes you've prepared, if necessary.
  • Expect the interviewer(s) to take notes as you respond.
  • Ask when you can expect to hear the decision. The process may take several weeks due to the large number of applications, scheduling considerations, conducting the interviews and selecting the candidate.
  • Thank the interviewer(s).

After an Interview

  • Send follow-up thank you note to interview team (optional).
  • Remain positive and learn from the experience.