(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College is known for its relevant, hands-on training for students in a wide variety of technical programs. With a mission of placing more Texans in good-paying jobs, TSTC’s Career Services department offers additional and powerful resources for students beyond the lab.
The Career Services department regularly hosts virtual workshops for students on topics ranging from resume writing and soft skills development to interviewing and professionalism.
A recent session included tips on answering the top questions often covered during an interview.
“One of the first questions you’ll be asked in pretty much any interview is, ‘tell me about yourself’ — some sort of icebreaker to get things moving and kick off that interview,” said Hunter Henry, a TSTC Career Services associate. “You want to give them your personal synopsis. Focus on a razor sharp one- to two-sentence pitch about your greatest hits.”
Henry advises against sharing personal information like hobbies. Instead, stay on topic and ensure that the information you share relates to the position you are interviewing for. For example, talk about a relevant experience that will benefit the company, like an early interest in tractors that developed into an aptitude for mechanical work.
Many interviewees excel when asked to name their strengths.
“You get to brag,” Henry said.
When interviewees are tasked to talk about their weaknesses, however, it can be a “potential minefield,” he warned.
Henry recommends asking an instructor, mentor or former supervisor for insights to help identify weaknesses. It might take some brutal honesty, but pinpointing those qualities will help you prepare — and frame your answer.
“It’s a simple equation to walk through a question like this,” Henry said, explaining that it is essential to turn a negative into a positive. How was the weakness addressed, for instance? How have you grown from the lesson?
Questions about handling stress and pressure — and conflicts in the workplace — are moments when an employer is trying to gauge how you will react in similar situations in a career.
“Never speculate about other people,” Henry advised. “Focus on yourself and stay positive.”
Be as concise and specific as possible in your responses, and give a real-world example when you can.
Try not to be taken aback by blunt questions like “why do you want this career,” or “why should we hire you?” They are both chances for you to reiterate your strengths — and illustrate how they will make the company stronger.
One common missed opportunity during an interview is the invitation for the interviewee to turn the table and ask questions.
“You don’t have to have 20 questions lined up, but think of a couple,” Henry said.
Asking a well-prepared question represents a valuable chance to learn more about the company while displaying your engagement. Avoid questions about salary and benefits — as well as questions that can be easily answered by a quick scroll on the company’s website.
Overall, preparation is key to a successful interview.
“Research a company,” Henry said. “Take 10 minutes. You can be surprised what kind of info you can pick up and arm yourself with.”
Anticipating potential questions and practicing your answers can also help you stand out from other applicants seeking to enter this career.
“Confidence is in short supply for most people in interviews, so if you can carry and maintain that confidence, employers will think highly of you,” Henry said.
Learn more about TSTC by visiting tstc.edu.