At our meeting on February 18th, Jen Bennett, the director of Student Services from the College of Optometry at the Ohio State University, provided the club with many useful tips on how to excel in professional interviews. Thank you for taking the time to help us more effectively prepare for interviews Jen!
The process of preparing for an interview is similar to preparing for an exam. It is important to study, know the material, and be comfortable with yourself so that you are ready to answer any question. Jen emphasized the fact that stories can serve as great content for your interview and exemplify who you truly are as a person. They give specificity and strength to your interview and can effectively capture the attention and of your interviewers. Jen recommends starting with the following six basic stories as a way to prepare: when you solved a problem, when you overcame a challenge, when you made a mistake and rebounded from it, when you acted as a leader and how your leadership impacted the outcome of the situation, when you worked with a team, and when you did something innovative or interesting. Make sure the stories have a clear beginning, middle, and conclusion. Jen provided the S/TAR method as a way to organize your stories. First, S/T stands for Situation/Task, and this is where you will explain the situation and the task that needed to be accomplished. A stands for Action, and this is where you should describe the action you personally took to impact the outcome of the situation. Finally, R stands for Results that were achieved, this is where you will explain what happened and what you learned or accomplished. Please note that this method won’t work for every interview question, however it can be very helpful in many questions that may be posed to you. It is also a good idea to use more recent examples, usually ones from your college career, and use various settings in your stories. You can practice telling your stories to a friend or family member, in the mirror, or on a video tape. Additionally, if you think it would help you, you could make a story “cheat sheet” to take to your interview in case you need to jog your memory. In an optometry school interview, it is likely that you will be asked questions pertaining to your knowledge of the profession, your academic preparation, and your leadership potential, and any unique characteristics about yourself. It is also a good idea to have some thoughtful questions prepared beforehand so that you can interview the interviewer as well.
Thank you so much for the incredibly helpful presentation Jen! It will definitely come in handy for members as they prepare for professional interviews.