Six Tips for Preparing a Successful Interview

Jill Stephenson, Student Services Counselor

The job interview can be stressful. Your palms may sweat and your heart may race. Questions will certainly fly at you. By following these six tips for preparing your interview, you’ll leave the hot seat feeling you’ve put your best foot forward.

Tip 1: Tell Me About Yourself
This question may be the most dreaded by interviewees and the most frequently asked by interviewers. But dread not! If you have an elevator pitch about yourself that is concise, meaningful to the position for which you are applying, and well-practiced then this question is setting you up to shine.

When crafting your “tell me about yourself” response, it is crucial to understand what is really being asked. It’s great that you like yoga, have a Shiba Inu named Ralph, and just planned your parents’ retirement party. However, the interviewer is not inquiring about your personal life. Interview time is limited, so optimize it by showcasing what interviewers need to know: how your skills and professional narrative align with their goal of making the right hire.

Remember that “tell me about yourself” is most likely the first question you’ll be asked and your response sets the tone for the remainder of the interview, making it is exceedingly important to be prepared. It’s also paramount that you remain positive in your “tell me about yourself” pitch — and, for that matter, in all your answers and comments during the interview. True, you may be unhappy in your current position, but bad mouthing your organization and colleagues is a sure-fire way to land on the “do not hire” list.

Tip 2: Use “CAR” (Challenge, Action, Result) to Structure Answers
Having a road map for answering questions ensures that you don’t get lost in your stories. Try following the “CAR” (Challenge, Action, Result) structure:

Challenge – What was the challenge you faced?
Action – What was the action you took to face the challenge?
Result – What was the (positive!) result of your action?

Consider the traditional interviewing question, “What are your weaknesses?” Using CAR, you can deliver a cohesive answer while simultaneously spinning this negatively-premised question into a positive response. For example:

[CHALLENGE:] My greatest weakness is that I was always shy when speaking up in front of groups and therefore had trouble speaking up in class and at student government meetings. [ACTION:] I was aware of this shyness when embarking upon my semester abroad and made a conscious decision to work on it, figuring if I can speak up in front of my peers in a foreign language then surely I can do it at home in my own language. [RESULT:] Once I had made the decision to try, I really went for it. I raised my hand a lot and, though I stumbled, speaking often in class boosted my confidence. I learned the importance of making and learning from mistakes and, when I returned to my home country, my class participation excelled and my student government leadership skills grew.

Tip 3: Have Talking Points
Your role in the interview is not that of a passive respondent. Rather, be proactive by knowing the job description and arriving to the interview with talking points that highlight your skills and applicable experiences. Draw on these talking points when answering even the most unpredictable of questions.

When premeditating your talking points, remember to include examples; never wait to be directly asked for an example, because you may not be! Additionally, think about including relevant and memorable stories, because stories have a way of sticking in people’s minds and you want the hiring committee to easily recall your interview when decision time rolls around.

Tip 4: Research the Company
Just as important as knowing the job description is knowing the company as well as the function and activities of the department in which the position resides. Since much of this information can be easily gleaned on any organization’s website, candidates who fail to convey this knowledge send a strong, damaging message: I don’t really want this job.

Additionally, when provided names of your interviewers in advance, research the roles of these individuals. Doing so allows you to ask informed questions about how your roles and work would interface.
Tip 5: Have Questions
Having questions is another way to convey a strong interest in the position and in the company itself. Most interviewers dedicate time to an interviewee’s inquiries, which they expect to be thoughtful and informed. Write a list of questions down ahead of time and feel free to consult it in the moment.

Tip 6: NYU Wasserman Career Center – Use Your Resources to Practice!
Most importantly, once you’ve crafted your “tell me about yourself” response, CAR statements, and talking points, you need to practice, practice, practice! The NYU Wasserman Career Center is an invaluable resource for NYU students to hone interview skills. Sign up for a mock interview to obtain feedback for improvement. Connect with a professional in the Mentor Network who can shed light on what interviewers in your field seek in an interviewee. Make an appointment with a Career Counselor to learn best practices in the job search. The more you practice, the more natural, confident, and comfortable you will be in the interview.


The Importance of Professional Development

By Victoria Jane Huish, Dance Education Graduate Student

The fifth and last bullet on my resume is titled, “Professional Development”. Under that title one can find a list of workshops, training seminars, and events I have attended in the last three years. Why did I find this important to include? Why should potential employers find value in this section of my resume? There may be many answers to both of these questions, but one clear answer to both is that as a future educator it is important to continue to educate and energize myself more to benefit my students’ learning.

Professional Development (PD) may happen in a variety of ways. Formally it can take place at a workshop, seminar, meeting, or conference. Informally it can occur through conversations, readings, observations or even feedback. The importance of PD is to become more educated in your desired profession (academic subjects, new technology, change in policy, etc.). As educators in the 21st century it is important to run toward PD for the gain of being educated rather than drag ourselves to them because they are either mandatory or will earn some physical (fiscal?) reward for attendance. With the Internet and increased technology in the classroom new ideas and tools are being explored and implemented every day. It is important to stay up to date.

PD is important to energize educators. One leader that comes to mind when I think of energy is the late CEO of Apple, Inc., Steve Jobs. Jobs gave keynote addresses to his company and customers to educate and excite them about new products and software being released. Being an apple user I was always looking forward to these new keynotes being released. It was common for the people in attendance of these presentations to cheer, clap, and laugh. He included visuals through video, power points, charts, and also the physical devices he would be talking about.  His presentation would include anticipation of the new technology explaining the need for them first, and then after revealing the products he would clearly explain how they would be used and why we need them in our everyday life.

PD events should share a lot of these qualities. PD should introduce educators to new ideas, teaching methods, structures, tools and technology that will benefit us every day in the classroom. PD should energize and excite educators about what it is they are teaching. PD should have clear presentations explaining the importance of the topic being shared and ideas of how to implement them in the class. After attending a PD event, educators should be as excited to take what they learned and apply it in their teaching as apple customers are about using the new technology that was released at each keynote.

When teachers return to their classrooms, the most important part of PD is applying these new ideas and teaching methods to benefit and energize the students It is important to personalize what was learned to help the individual classroom and students.

As educators we must always be looking to educate ourselves, but also look for ways we can help and teach our fellow colleagues. Also we must set an example to our students by continuing to learn and expand our knowledge. If something is working well in your classroom, consider taking on the role of Steve Jobs in your school, create a presentation for PD and energize and educate!


Survival Strategies for Students

By Jeanne Bannon, Director, Counseling & Student Services

Many graduate students are wearing different hats: scholar, employee, professional development enthusiast, community supporter, family member, etc.  Each of you are at New York University to learn, to excel, and to earn a degree. The question is how to balance the many and varied activities

1. Get organized. Get a calendar, get a weekly reminder app; something to keep track of deadlines, exams, appointments, due dates. This should be done at the beginning of each semester (of course put your holidays in first!) then work backwards from there. If you have an exam on the 1st of March and you need to start preparing 2 weeks ahead of time for a major exam, count back 2 weeks from March 1st and put it in your calendar to begin preparing for your exam.

Make studying a regular part of your schedule, like going to the gym or getting up in the morning.  Studying will also be more effective if you have more frequent shorter blocks of time rather than the ubiquitous “all-nighter”.

2. Setting priorities. School is a fulltime job. Rule of thumb: study 2 hours out of class for each credit you are taking. Therefore, 12 credit hours equal to 24 hours of study in addition to class time. This time commitment is the equivalent of a part-time job and it should be the number one priority.
Learn to say “No”. If you are asked to meet for happy hour, or a family member has asked you to pick up a relative from school, or mom misses you and wants you to come home for dinner, it is difficult to say no but you may have to reschedule, move other commitments around, or simply take a raincheck.  Learn to negotiate and learn to say “no” when it is necessary.

3. Learn effective study strategies.  Examples of this include making charts, outlines, highlight, color-coding notes, rewriting notes, index cards, etc. And learn to read effectively; skimming is acceptable.A. Preview the material. Ask yourselves what you need to get out of the material.B. Read the material but make it an active pursuit. Highlight, take notes, outline, and answer questions that have been raised. C. Review the material. Did you answer the questions you set up for yourself? Are you able to outline the material? A good exercise is to explain the material to someone.

Remember to use the strategies that work best for you!

4. Self-Sabotage. If you are night owl, don’t set the alarm clock for 6 am.  It just isn’t going to happen!  If you are an early bird then don’t plan on staying up until 3 am.

5. Finally, use the resources on campus. At NYU Steinhardt we offer workshops and will schedule one on one time with students that encompass study skills, time management, preparing for examinations, and stress management.  We do recognize the number of demands that you face in these busy times, and we are available to help you or to help you find the assistance needed to be successful. Visit the Office of Counseling & Student Services in Pless Hall on the 2nd floor.


What Are You Grateful For?

By Justine Kelly-Fierro, Assistant Director

Class time, studying, completing assignments, on/off campus employment, internships, club meetings, socializing – it is understandable that sometimes you may feel overwhelmed about rarely having a minute just for yourself.  Living, learning, and working in New York City often means that we are on constant alert, hustling from one place to another while making sure we fit into crowded elevators on our way to class, avoiding getting hit by cabs, and finding time to eat, stay hydrated, and get simple exercise.  These experiences can stress us out physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

How do you handle daily ups and downs?  As one day turns into the next, it can be challenging at times to remember the early excitement of being accepted into your dream school, fresh faced with a clean slate, embarking on your own independent journey of learning and self-discovery.  Do you find yourself throwing shade or complaining about every little annoyance?

One way to stay grounded, present, and self-reflective is to write a Gratitude Journal. This is a simple exercise that you can easily integrate into your regular routine.  Once a week or more, find a place to jot down a few things you’ve experienced that you’ve appreciated, that fill you up with joy, comfort, and validation.

These lists can be as simple or complex as you’d like. You can write them in an actual paper journal, in a notepad or app on your smartphone. You could even tweet them, post on Facebook, or take a photo on Instagram. After a few weeks, you’ll have amassed a collection of tender touchstones that you can refer to in times of uncertainty or frustration.

Not certain what to write about? Gratitude researchers say to go for depth instead of breadth and to focus on people and experiences instead of objects or things.  In one study, the instructions indicate:

Be aware of your feelings and how you “relish” and “savor” this gift in your imagination. Take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.

Recalling these positive jewels is a technique that will help you stay present, alleviating anger and worry as you reflect on and appreciate the awesome life that you are living and creating each moment within your community.


  • How snuggly my cats are because it’s so cold out.
  • My colleague who is always ready with a compliment on a project we’re working on.






Opportunity Knocks… Are you listening?

Angela Ellis-Jones, Student Services Counselor
As a Student Services Counselor, working with the NYU Opportunity Programs has proven to be a very rewarding experience for me and my students. Where would millions of underrepresented and low-income high school students be without higher education access programs offering a place to declare their goals, receive support and guidance, in turn, improving their quality of life? The NYU Opportunity Programs consist of the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), The Science and Technology Program (STEP) and the Building Excellence in Science and Technology (BEST).

Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) is designed to assist students who are residents of New York State who are academically and educationally disadvantaged. Students in the program receive supportive services including counseling and tutoring to help ensure their success and must meet academic and family income guidelines to be eligible, and must attend a six-week summer program prior to the start of their freshman year.

Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)
CSTEP is a NYU program for New York State residents underrepresented in business, law, science, and health-related programs.
Middle School and High School Program
The Science and Technology Program (STEP) and the Building Excellence in Science and Technology (BEST)* program at New York University (NYU) is an innovative pre-college enrichment program for talented and motivated middle and high school students in New York City.  Our goal is to (1) prepare our students to be competitive so that they are accepted into a selective college of their choice and (2) encourage and increase the number of historically under-represented minority groups in the science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) careers, health-related fields and licensed professions.

Across New York State, students are taking control of their lives using the opportunities around them and turning their dreams into reality. I am proud to be a part of their process.

How are YOU taking advantage of the opportunities in your life? Would you recognize an opportunity, if it stared you in the face?

Here at New York University, there are opportunities ALL around you:

For professional growth – Wasserman Center for Career Development
To serve humanity – Center for Student Activities, Leadership and Service
To expand knowledge – University Learning Center/Academic Resource Center
For spiritual growth – Center for Global and Spiritual Life

Use these opportunities to grow, learn, and influence positive change. Use them to be the change you wish to see in the world. Today, grasp ALL the opportunities that can improve your world.


Grad Students: Doing Research @ Bobst Over the Summer?

Congrats on finishing up the Spring term! Don’t forget that NYU Libraries are here to support your research needs throughout the summer. Take advantage of our grad spaces at Bobst Library during the summer months: …and feel free to use our Ask a Librarian service if you need assistance with library resources or research questions at any time:

Keep an eye out for our fall instructional offerings, which will be publicized in August. In the meantime, have a great summer!
–NYU Libraries Graduate Student Working Group

Office of Advisement and Registration Emails

David Zapotocky, Director of Advisement & Registration Services

Meeting university deadlines for registration are important, particularly at the graduate level, since this often may translate into money.  Missing a deadline for registration may result in a $50 late registration fee or interest charges for tuition not yet paid or in the worst case scenario paying for a course you have dropped too late (after the second week of the term).  So it is important that when the Office of Advisement & Registration Services sends you emails they should be read as it is here that these deadlines will appear. It is also important to review before each semester begins the University Registration calendar which can be accessed at:

The Office of Advisement & Registration Services is here to help you meet these deadlines by providing you, through email or at orientation, the information you need in order to successfully complete your registration and payments by the deadlines. We provide as much information as possible through the Office of Student Affairs website:

But we may not have all the answers, as many of the deadlines are established by the University through the Registrar ( and Bursar ( so make sure you also visit those websites.

Meeting deadlines helps reduce the hassle and worry of registration and payment. So keep yourself informed of deadlines, look out for deadline information, and seek answers through either the University Student Services Office at 25 W. 4th Street, First Floor, or Steinhardt Advisement & Registration Services at 82 Washington Square East (Pless Hall), Second Floor.


Do I Need to Be Involved with a Professional Organization?

By Jacqueline McPhillips, Director, Community College Transfer Opportunity Program

Nearly every profession or interest area has a national, state or regional organization to join.  These organizations typically encourage professional development and networking.  Making connections with other colleagues in your profession is important at all stages of your career. Whether you are just starting out or getting ready to retire, there is always someone to lend a hand and something to learn.

Getting involved with professional organizations is not merely a space filler for your résumé.   Creating professional relationships is important; these types of groups allow you to become acquainted with others in your field that may do similar work to yours at a different institution.  This is a great way to learn ‘best practices’ and discuss new ideas.  If you are new to your field, this could be a great place to meet a potential mentor.  Perhaps one of the most motivating types of networking achieved through a professional organization is the ability to take advantage of career resources.  Often there will be a system of identifying new opportunities for members, as well as connecting with others who might know of open positions that you may not otherwise have heard.

So you may be wondering how to start the process of getting professionally involved? Research! First identify the organizations that professionals in your field typically join. Depending on where you plan to take your career there are plenty of organizations that might be of interest to you. For example, in my field, higher education, there are organizations which apply specifically to those who work with community colleges and others which are geared toward those in any aspect of academic advisement. The important thing is to find the groups that are most pertain to you and your goals. Many organizations provide student membership options. It’s never too early to get involved!