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Interviewing Handbook

Dietetic Internships

Lynette M. Karls Coordinator ­ Didactic Program in Dietetics Faculty Associate Department of Nutritional Sciences UW-Madison 1415 Linden Drive Madison, WI 53706 (608) 262-5847 [email protected]

August 2010

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Interviewing Handbook Table of Contents

Page Introduction Purpose of the Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Interviewer's Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Preparing for Interviews Assess Yourself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Assess the Dietetic Internship . . . . . . . . . . . . . Assess How Your Skills/Interests Fit with the Program/Organization Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mock Interview Rubric 1 1

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Interviewing Formats Traditional Interview - includes sample questions . . . . . . . . Education/Academic Experiences Work and Volunteer Experiences Extracurricular Involvement Internship Specific Questions Motivation and Goals Response to Failure or Criticism Interaction with Others Self-Evaluation Future Goals Behavioral Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Behavioral versus Traditional Interview Competencies/Attributes Sought by Interviewers Sample Behavioral Interview Questions How to Respond to Behavioral Questions Case Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Types of Cases What Do Interviewers Want in a Case Interview? What Interviewers Do Not Want Strategies for Answering Case Questions Actual Examples of "Dietetics-Related" Case/Behavioral Questions Used In DI Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "Wild Card" Interview Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sample "Wild Card" Questions (with tips on answering them) Brainteaser Interview Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




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Interview Settings On-Site Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What to Bring Portfolios/Using Your Portfolio During an Interview What to Wear to an Interview Choices in Women's Attire Choices in Men's Attire Items to Avoid ­ Women Items to Avoid ­ Men Additional Tips/Resources (video on "Dressing for Interviews") Telephone Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Telephone Etiquette The Five Most Common Telephone Courtesy Faux Pas Videotape/Videoconferencing Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . Questions, Questions, Questions! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Answers to Common Interview Questions Practice by Developing Answers to These Additional Questions Questions to Ask Internship Programs/Employers Questions NOT to Ask Internship Programs/Employers Questions Employers Cannot Ask You (and how to handle these questions) The Actual Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Before the Interview During the Interview How's Your Attitude? First Impressions After the Interview Worst Interviewing Mistakes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Resources/Addtional Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



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Sample Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Many Dietetic Internship programs require an interview, but the format of the interview will vary. Some require an in-person interview; others will complete this process via the telephone. Other formats have included audio or video tape. Be sure you understand what type of interview is required by the program before you apply. If the program requires a "personal" interview, you would need to travel to the program for the interview. This can add significant costs to the process. Interviews are usually held in October/November for the fall match and March/April for the spring match. Programs usually call or email you to arrange an appointment for the interview. Be sure to have an answering system for the time between the Application Deadline and Notification Day. Your message needs to be "professional". (Don't automatically assume you will not receive an appointment to a particular program if you don't get asked to interview.) Obtain as much information about the interview as possible beforehand. For example, it will be helpful to know if you will be asked "typical" interview questions, behavioral or "performance based" questions, "dietetics related" questions, situational or case questions, or a combination. Ask who will be conducting the interview. Is it a panel? Is it a sequential interview (i.e. an interview that consists of a series of panel or individual interviews)? Depending on the program, they may or may not disclose this information to you.

What is the Purpose of the Interview?

The purpose of conducting an interview is to gather information about an applicant, present a realistic description of the program, ensure a fair selection process, establish adequate records in the event the decisions must be justified, and determine whether the applicant would be able to successfully complete the program. They want to be sure you are a good fit for the program and the organization. Also, is your personality a good match with the program and do you share common interests and goals? It is also an opportunity for you to sell yourself as a top candidate for the internship by highlighting your strengths, skills, and qualifications; and a presentation of the "real" you where you can demonstrate how your personality will fit with the working environment and with future mentors/colleagues. Finally, it also allows you to observe the program in action, tour the premises and talk to other employees/interns.

The Interviewer's Perspective

Before you prepare for the interview, stop and take a step back to think about the interview from the program's viewpoint. Think about why each question is asked ­ some say to analyze the question behind the question ­ and try to understand what skills or attributes are actually being evaluated in your response. If you can understand this process and prepare accordingly, you will not only survive, but also succeed in interviews. Interviews are business meetings. Prepare accordingly. Know what you want to talk about; know your resume/application thoroughly; be able to cite examples of skills, lessons learned or goals met 1

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all across the resume page. Give the impression that this is an important meeting for you and that you have taken it seriously and prepared accordingly. Interviewers will not try to embarrass you or cause you stress. They have a difficult task in conducting multiple interviews ­ probably over a series of days. Help them select you by being prepared. Ultimately, programs must find a "few" candidates from "many" who fit their needs and will be successful in their program. Their job is a difficult one.


Research the organization, the program, the region/city. Meet with professionals in the field; identify key trends. Put together an interview folder/portfolio. Anticipate questions and develop answers. Prepare thoughtful questions to show your interest in the program and organization. Schedule "mock interviews". Practice, practice, practice! Preparation and practice are keys to successful interviewing. A lack of thorough research on the program and organization is often interpreted as poor preparation and lack of interest. Consider the following 3 important elements in preparation.

Assess Yourself

Take a personal inventory by answering the following questions: What skills do I have and like to use? What will convince this program that I am the right person for this internship? What are my strengths, achievements (be specific), skills and areas of knowledge that make me most qualified? What in my background makes me stand out from the other candidates? What interests me and keeps me motivated? How would I describe my "ideal" job? What are my goals? What gives me personal satisfaction in a job/activity? You may not be asked these questions specifically, but thinking about them ahead of time will help you integrate them in your interview answers. Be sure to thoroughly review the application materials (including the cover letter) you sent to the program. Write down 5 or 6 experiences or skills you want to talk about and be able to give SPECIFIC examples. Generic answers don't work well in an interview. If someone asks you what kind of leader you are, make sure that you have a specific example to back it up. It's ok to say you believe in participating in leadership activities, but it's more important to discuss how you demonstrated this in work settings, 2

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student organizations, classes, etc. You may be a "hard worker", but back it up with examples. For example "I worked 25 hours/week in addition to being a full-time student and was able to maintain a 3.6 GPA!"

Assess the Dietetic Internship

Collect as much information as possible about the internship, the area/city, the rotations, etc. and ask related questions during the interview. You can get information from: Program website ­ read and study this thoroughly! Applicant Guide to Supervised Practice (Rm. 230 Nutr. Sci. Bldg., printed copy in "black binder", electronic copy available on each computer) Materials provided by the program ­ brochures, company literature, annual reports; search out news articles referring to this site/organization/program. People in the field (professors, associations, employers, etc.); if possible, talk to other students/interns who have completed the program or worked there previously. Consider the following ­ organization/program history and structure, philosophy and culture, work environment, issues and trends, management style, organizational/program goals and future plans, etc. Your knowledge of the organization and the program will be impressive and can help offset lack of experience.

Assess How Your Skills/Interests Fit with the Program/Organization

During the interview, Program Directors are trying to see both what's in it for them, as well as what's in it for you. It is very important to the program to make a good match, so identify the following (with a little bit of reflection and research): Why do you want to work in Dietetics? What draws you to this particular program? What is it about this organization that appeals to you? Being able to answer these questions with clarity, enthusiasm, and excitement will demonstrate your motivation and prove that the program isn't just a good fit ­ it's a perfect fit! The following exercises might be helpful in this process. Exercise A: Go into the interview knowing several good reasons why you are the BEST candidate for the internship position. Remember, no one has the same "mix" as you. Seldom are you "just" your major or GPA. With this in mind, make a brief list that focuses on what makes YOU uniquely qualified for THIS program and integrate these into your interview. Who you are ­ personality, traits, strengths, and characteristics. What you know ­ educational background, certifications, and research conducted. What you know how to do ­ experience from class projects, work, volunteer or leisure activities.


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Exercise B: Get it down on paper to really see how you fit and get concrete ideas of what to mention so the program sees the fit (you may have already done this to tailor your resume and/or cover letter to the specific program.

Position Requirements Team Player Examples of My Qualifications Part of the front end team at local retail store, helping directly with customer service and sales. To cut costs of placing bulky purchased items in expensive plastic bags and still maintain merchandise security, I proposed we adopt a sticker program to indicate larger purchases and it became an effective policy of the organization.

Ability to Problem Solve


Successful interviewing results from having thought about your responses in advance and doing some practice interviewing. Practice will help you "fine-tune" your interview and anticipate its process. Compile a list of questions that you think the interviewer might ask (see "Interviewing Formats" and "Questions" sections of this handbook) Develop answers for your list of possible questions. Practice your interviewing with a friend or in front of a mirror. Ask for constructive criticism and try it again. Learn to hear yourself talk about you. Practice OUT LOUD. It's not easy talking about yourself.

Schedule a mock interview with one of the staff in CALS Career Services.

Audio or video tape a practice interview and ask others to help you critique it.

Remember . . . "It's not the best prepared student who gets the position . . . . . . but, the student who is best prepared at getting the position."

Many career services counselors recommend practicing your introduction. "Winging it" is not a very wise plan of action, especially when an internship is at stake. You will project confidence and charisma during your introduction if you are comfortable with what you are saying. Remember, the words that you say are just part of your presentation package. Your overall manner and confidence are also critical components to the successful introduction. Of course, your confidence and personality should be obvious, but not in an exaggerated or cocky way . . . just a professional one. 4

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Incorporate positive nonverbal communications, such as eye contact, facial expressions, body language, etc. Practice your smile, good posture, and a firm handshake. Develop answers to commonly asked interview questions (see "Interviewing Formats" section of this handbook for sample questions). Practicing allows you to become comfortable going through the "process" and answering questions on the spot. Even if you don't get these questions in your interview, you have practiced how to give complete answers and stay on topic. Watch for "digressing" and "blabbing on". Don't "over rehearse"! Don't memorize your responses word-for-word. You don't want to sound like you are reading from a script! It is usually better to give up-front, honest responses rather than "canned" answers you think the interviewer wants to hear. Ask your "practice interviewers" to rate your mock interview using the rubric below.

Mock Interview Rubric

Excellent Interview Average Interview Interviewing Skills Need Significant Improvement

Your attire is not professional ­ you wear jeans or shorts to this interview. You do not greet or shake hands when you meet your interviewer. Your conversation is not energetic. You are not knowledgeable about the program or organization you are interviewing with. You are not confident in answering questions about yourself. You do not state the skills you have to successfully complete this internship and become a successful R.D.

First Impressions

Your appearance is professional ­ you are wearing a business suit. You greet and shake hands with your interviewer correctly. Your conversation is enthusiastic and engaging. You are knowledgeable about the organization and program. You display poise and confidence. You relate your skills to performance in the internship/dietetics field very well.

You look nice but you do not wear a suit. Your greeting is appropriate but you forget to shake hands with your interviewer. Your conversation is enthusiastic and engaging. You are knowledgeable about the program but not the organization you are interviewing with. You display adequate confidence in your answers. You state your skills but do not adequately relate them to the internship/dietetics field.

Interview Content


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Mock Interview Rubric (continued)

Excellent Interview

Average Interview

Interviewing Skills Need Significant Improvement

You look at the floor or ceiling when speaking. Your grammar and language are not appropriate. You say "um" or "and" too many times. You talk too fast or too slow.

Interview Skills/Techniques

You have excellent eye contact with your interviewer without staring. Your language and grammar is appropriate. You do not use "um" or "and". You speak at the right speed.

You have adequate eye contact with your interviewer. Your language and grammar are adequate. You say "um" or "and" a few times, but not enough to disrupt the interview. You talk a little too fast or too slow. You convey some interest in the program. You are not prepared to ask any questions. You thank the interviewer.


You successfully convey your interest in this program. You ask appropriate questions to the interviewer. You thank the interviewer.

You do not show any interest in this program. You do not ask any questions. You do not thank the interviewer.


Internships may use a "traditional" interview format, a behavioral or "performance-based" format, or a knowledge-based/case-based format, or a combination of all three.

Traditional Interview

"Traditional" or "typical" interview questions are those that may be asked in all interviews and that attempt to determine a person's personality. Don't try to memorize (or fabricate) the "right" answers to interview questions. The only "right" answers are those that truthfully describe you and your skills/abilities to perform the job. Have confidence that your response is strong if it reflects active self-assessment, specific details and relates to the question being asked. Also try to understand the question under the question; understand why the question is being asked and what the interviewer is evaluating. Respond with specific, thoughtful descriptions of your real past and present experiences, the skills developed and lessons learned from them. Finish your thoughts completely and then stop talking. Sometimes we have a tendency to end our answers by filling the impending silence with awkward mannerisms. Interview as if you are writing a sentence. Don't ease out of the response with "so, yeah". Be decisive and don't ramble. 6

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The questions below are sample questions from a "traditional" interview. Education/Academic Experiences 1. What led you to choose dietetics as your field of study? Was it a good decision? 2. What college subjects/courses did you like the best? Why? Least? Why? 3. What subjects/courses gave you the most trouble? 4. If you could do so, how would you plan your academic study differently? Why? 5. Describe your study habits. 6. Do you think your GPA is a good indication of your academic achievement and how much you learned? Why or why not? 7. Do you think GPA should be considered by internship programs? Why or why not? 8. Describe your most rewarding college experience. 9. Did your DPD meet your expectations? 10. What was the most important thing you learned in school? 11. Do you have plans for continued study? An advanced degree? 12. How did you pay for your college education? 13. How do you think your education and college experiences will help you in this internship? 14. How has your DPD prepared you for an internship? 15. How will your degree/experiences at UW-Madison help you succeed in our internship? Work and Volunteer Experiences 1. Describe a situation in which your ideas or work conflicted with the ideas or work of a co-worker or supervisor. 2. What type of people do you like to work with? Find difficult to work with? Why? 3. Tell me of a situation where you worked under pressure. 4. You seem to have limited work experience; why do you think you could successfully complete this internship? 5. What would your references say about you? 6. Do you make your opinion known when you disagree with a supervisor? 7. How would you handle a situation in which you couldn't get along with your boss? 8. What new idea or suggestion did you make to your immediate supervisor in the last couple of months? 9. How would you describe the perfect supervisor? 10. Has your work ever been criticized? If so, in what way? What did you do to improve? 11. What kind of setting do you like to work in? Quiet or noisy? Alone or with others? 12. In doing your job, do you think it's more important to finish quickly or do the work exactly right? 13. Which of your previous jobs did you like (or dislike) the most? Why? 14. What was your most rewarding experience at work? What do you find most satisfying in a job? 15. What was your single most important accomplishment in your last job? 16. What skills did you learn in your various jobs that you can use here? 17. What have you contributed to your past employers that saved them time, money, or enhanced their image? 18. What aspects of your work do you consider the most crucial? 7

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19. What is the least relevant job you have held? Most relevant? Why? 20. What is the hardest job you have ever performed? 21. Have you had any supervisory or administrative experience? Please tell me more about it. Extracurricular Involvement 1. What clubs have you been involved in? What did you DO for the club? 2. What volunteer work have you done in the past? 3. What awards or honors have you received? 4. What are your hobbies? OR What do you do in your spare time? 5. What have you learned from participation in extra-curricular activities? 6. What civic organizations do you belong to? 7. What were your responsibilities in your campus activities? 8. What professional associations do you belong to? 9. Have you had any international experience? Do you speak or write in any foreign language? Internship Specific Questions 1. What attracted you to this internship? What do you think its strengths/weaknesses are? 2. What qualities would you look for in a dietetic internship applicant for this program? 3. What interests you most about this program and why? Least and why? 4. Why do you think you might like to live in the community in which we are located? What do you know about the city/area/region? 5. What do you know about our internship program? 6. Why should we select you instead of other equally qualified candidates? 7. Which trade publications/journals do you read to keep informed about current trends in dietetics? 8. What technical skills would you bring to this internship? 9. What do you see as the major trends in dietetics and how do you think they will affect our organization? 10. What do you think it takes to be successful in a Dietetic Internship program like ours? 11. What criteria did you use to select internship programs? Motivation and Goals 1. Tell me about the last time that you made a change in your life. 2. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Weaknesses? 3. Give me two examples of good decisions you have made in the last six months? Why were they good? 4. How will this internship help you meet your career goals? 5. What have you done that demonstrates your initiative? 6. What would you change about yourself if you could? 7. When have you been a leader? 8. Would you rather write a report or give an oral report? Why? 9. Are you a risk-taker? 8

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10. How do you handle pressure situations? 11. How do you relieve stress? 12. Tell me about yourself. 13. How have you gone about determining that this field is right for you? 14. What is the biggest risk you have ever taken? 15. What is your strongest transferable skill? How has it been helpful to you? 16. What accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction? Why? 17. What are the most important rewards you expect in your career? 18. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort? 19. How do you define success? Response to Failure or Criticism 1. How do you react to criticism? 2. Think about something at work or school that you consider a failure. Tell me about it. 3. Tell me about a mistake you made, and how you handled it. 4. What is the worst communication problem you have experienced? 5. Describe the biggest problem you have faced within the last six months. How did you handle it? 6. What is the most unethical situation you have encountered? 7. Tell me about a team you were on when all members did not carry their weight. How did you deal with this? Interaction with Others 1. Describe an instance where you made effective use of facts to secure the agreement of others. 2. Describe a creative idea that you produced which led to a significant contribution to the success of an activity or project. 3. Describe your vision of a leader. 4. What is leadership? 5. When is it time to follow? 6. Define cooperation. 7. What strategies do you use to tolerate people with different backgrounds and interests from yours? 8. What kind of people do you like to work with? 9. What kind of people do you find it difficult to work with? Self-Evaluation 1. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses? 2. How would you describe yourself? 3. How do you think a friend or professor who knows you would describe you? 4. What qualifications do you have that make you think that you will be successful in dietetics? 5. What qualities should a successful manager possess? What qualities should a clinical dietitian possess? 9

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6. Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and those reporting to him/her. 7. How would you describe the ideal job for you? 8. What two or three things are most important to you in an internship? 9. How are your people-management skills? Can you give me one or two examples? 10. How well do you communicate in writing and orally? Give me some examples. 11. Can you meet deadlines? If so, give me an example. 12. How do you motivate others? 13. Have you done the best work you are capable of doing? How do you determine this? 14. What is your energy level like? Describe a typical day. 15. How do you organize and plan for major projects? 16. What can you do for us that someone else can't do? 17. How do you take direction? 18. Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten. 19. What is the most difficult situation you have faced? 20. How would you define a conducive work atmosphere. 21. What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you? 22. How do you handle rejection? 23. Why do you think you would like this kind of work? 24. Do you consider yourself a leader, and if so, give me some examples of your leadership abilities? 25. Do you consider yourself a better manager or a better implementer? 26. What do you feel is the most difficult responsibility that a manager must perform? 27. What would you do when you have a decision to make and no procedure exists? 28. What do you feel is a satisfactory attendance record? 29. What are some things you find difficult to do? Why do you feel that way? Future Goals 1. What are your long range and short range career/professional goals and objectives? When and why did you establish these goals and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them? 2. What specific goals, other than those related to your occupation, have you established for yourself? 3. What area of dietetics do you plan to pursue? 4. What do you see yourself doing five years from now? 5. Where do you expect to be in your career within five years? ten years? 6. What are the most important rewards you expect in your dietetics career? 7. What are your educational goals? 8. What kinds of additional education, formal or informal, do you think you need to meet your career goals? 9. What future training do you plan in connection with your career goals? 10. Tell me about a time you overcame obstacles to reach a goal? 11. What are your lifetime goals?


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Behavioral Interview

"Tell me about a team experience in which one member did not meet expectations." This question demonstrates the type of question common in behavioral interviews. Based on the premise that the best way to predict future behavior is to evaluate past behavior, this form of questioning allows the interviewer to assess your abilities based on what you have already done. An interviewer usually identifies desired skills and behaviors, then structures open-ended questions and statements to elicit detailed responses. It relies on storytelling where the candidate uses personal examples to support his or her claims. Whenever possible, use examples from an internship, class work, professional association, or other work/degree-related experiences. Before going to an interview, stop and think of some of your most important milestones: projects, grades, presentations, work experiences that make you proud. Build your examples around these when answering questions. Questions typically sound like: Tell me about a time when . . . Give me an example of your skills in . . . Describe a time when you . . . Why did you . . . Behavioral versus Traditional Interview Behavioral Interview Traditional Interview Candidates relate past behaviors Candidates try to give the answer interviewer wants to hear Candidates talk 80 % of time Interviewer talks 80% of time Candidates give specific examples of past Candidates explain how hypothetically they experience would handle situations Structured interview process Inconsistently structured interview process Assures all candidates asked same questions Each interview may be different Candidates are compared against objective Candidates are compared against each other standards Clarifies expectations and value of the Each interviewer has a set of expectations and interviewers prior to the interview values against which candidates are judged Candidates are evaluated based on what was said Candidates are evaluated based on impressions during the interview What competencies are interviewers looking for? Personal Competencies: adaptability/flexibility, energy, impact, initiative, honesty, integrity, innovation/creativity, goal oriented, self-directed, motivated, and tolerance for stress Decision-Making/Problem-Solving Competencies: problem assessment, decisiveness, followup, planning/organizing, and attention to detail Interpersonal Competencies: building partnerships, communication, customer service, persuasiveness, and teamwork


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Leadership Competencies: delegation of authority and responsibility, facilitating team performance, individual leadership/influence, organizational awareness and strategic leadership Study all program materials to determine specific qualities "they" are looking for in candidates. In addition, review the ADA recommendation form and think of the best example to demonstrate that you have each attribute. Examples of attitudes, behaviors and specific questions are listed in the table below. Competencies Reviewed in Behavioral Interview

Attribute Strong work ethic Behaviors Adheres to an appropriate and effective set of core values and beliefs during both good and bad times; acts in line with those values; rewards the right values and disapproves of others; practices what he or she preaches. Genuinely cares about people; is concerned about others' problems; is ready to help; is sympathetic to the plight of others less fortunate; demonstrates real empathy with the joys and pains of others. Questions Can you tell me about a time when you felt you had to make an unpopular decision based on your beliefs and values.

Compassion/ ability to treat others well

Can you remember a situation where you demonstrated real compassion to a teammate when it would have been easier not to? Tell me about a time when you put your own work aside to help someone else. Tell me about a time when you were able to find common ground when working in a team to achieve a result. Think back on a time when you were able to motivate a team to achieve results. Describe a time when working in a team when you were able to make each team member feel important and valuable. Tell me about a time when you were able to gain the trust and support of fellow team members to achieve a goal. Describe a situation where you were able to comfortably delegate an important task to another team member. Can you describe a time when you successfully pushed yourself and others to achieve a goal? Can you tell me about a time when you exceeded a goal you set for yourself? Tell me about a situation where your focus on the goal helped you achieve the desired results. Tell me about a

Team player

Able to create strong morale and spirit in his or her team; shares wins and successes; fosters open dialogue; lets people finish and be responsible for their work; defines success in terms of the whole team; creates a feeling of belonging in the team; broadly shares both responsibility and accountability; fosters an environment in which people want to do their best; can quickly find common ground and solve problems for the good of all; can represent own interests while being fair to the group.

Motivated/ Driven

Can be counted on to exceed goals successfully; is constantly and consistently one of the top performers; steadfastly pushes self and others for results; takes initiative; doesn't wait for others to start on project; communicates and genuinely feels passion for a project, idea, etc.


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situation where your passion for a project or idea was contagious.

Attribute Creative

Behaviors Comes up with new and unique ideas; easily makes connections among previously unrelated notions; tends to be seen as original and value-added in brainstorming sessions; able to bring the creative ideas of self and others to market; has good judgment about which creative ideas and suggestions will work.

Questions Describe a situation where you came up with a new and unique idea that paid off. Tell me about a time when you used good judgment to determine what creative ideas would be successful. Tell me about a time when you looked beyond the obvious to find an unusual solution. (Observe dress, voice, eye-contact, and mannerisms during interview for professionalism.) Describe a time when you used your informal networks to gain insight into a problem or achieve results. Tell me about a situation where you were able to eliminate a roadblock to get an important project done. Tell me about a time when you took an unpopular stance to achieve a result. Think back on your busiest day this last year ­ how did you organize your time to ensure that you met your deadlines? Tell me about the most difficult communication challenge you've had and how you overcame it. Describe a time when you told the truth when it would have been easier not to. Can you describe a situation where you admitted a mistake and it paid off? Tell me about a time when you were acknowledged for your integrity. Can you tell me about a time when you felt that you exceeded the needs of a professor, supervisor, or team? Tell me about a time when your commitment to quality paid off.


Behaves and dresses in a professionally appropriate manner; understands how to get things done through formal channels and informal networks; practices strong time-management skills; uses logic and methods to solve difficult work problems with effective solutions; is able to effectively communicate in a professional environment.

Honest, trustworthy, and demonstrates integrity

Is widely trusted; is seen as a direct, truthful individual; can present the unvarnished truth in an appropriate and helpful manner; keeps confidences; admits mistakes; doesn't misrepresent her/himself for personal gain.

Committed to excellence and providing high value products and services

Is dedicated to providing the highest quality products and services that meet the needs and requirements of internal and external customers; is committed to continuous improvement; is open to suggestions for continuous improvement; is committed to ongoing learning to better serve customers; gets firsthand customer information and uses it to make improvements in products and services; maintains effective relationships with


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customers to gain their trust and respect.

Attribute Consistent

Behaviors Is reliable; consistently delivers what is promised; meets deadlines with regularity; considered the "go to" person because he or she is trustworthy, dependable, and steadfast.

Questions Can you tell me about a time when you felt you were rewarded for your dependability and consistency? Describe a situation where your reliability benefited the team. Tell me about a time when you took a calculated risk to achieve a goal. Can you tell me about a time when you served as the lone champion for an idea or concept? Describe a situation when you seized an opportunity with a minimum of planning.


Can anticipate future consequences and trends accurately; is future-oriented; creates breakthrough strategies; is willing to be the only champion for an idea or position; is willing to take calculated risks; is action-oriented and full of energy; is not fearful of acting with a minimum of planning; seizes more opportunities than others.

Additional sample behavioral interview questions? Tell me about an obstacle you have overcome. Tell me about the most unethical situation you've observed or experienced. Tell me about your last experience with success. Tell me about a goal you have met. Tell me about a time you criticized the work of another. Tell me about a time you motivated a dysfunctional team to excel. Tell me about the biggest risk you have taken. We all break rules. Tell me about a time when you broke a rule. Tell me about a team project in which you assumed a leadership role. Tell me about a time you failed. Tell me about a former supervisor with whom you did not agree. Give me an example of how you worked effectively with people to accomplish an important result. Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get an important point across. Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.


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How to Respond to Behavioral Questions In responding to behavioral questions, it helps to use the STAR approach to develop a complete or concise answer: S = Situation Give an example of a situation or problem in which you had a positive outcome Describe the tasks involved in the situation Talk about the actions you took and obstacles you had to overcome Highlight the outcome, goals you achieved, and lessons learned; include what you learned from the experience

T = Task A = Action R = Results

Note: the interviewer is more interested in the process (reasoning behind your actions) rather than the details of the outcome. Prepare to provide detail regarding "what-where-why" of past performances. Expect probing questions ("peeling the layers from an onion"). Your answers will be tested for accuracy and consistency. Expect a structured interview concentrating on areas that are important to the interviewer, rather than allowing you to concentrate on areas that you may feel are important. Interviewers will take detailed notes. Tips Recall recent situations that show favorable behaviors or actions, especially involving course work, work experience, leadership, teamwork, initiative, planning, and customer service. Prepare short descriptions of each situation; be ready to give details if asked. Be sure each story has a beginning, middle, and an end. Be ready to describe the situation, your action, and the outcome or result. Be sure the outcome or result reflects positively on you. If the result itself was not favorable, talk about what you learned or would do differently next time. Be honest. Don't embellish or omit any part of the story. The interviewer will find out if your story is built on a weak foundation. Keep your answers focused on recent job-related experiences, professional association experiences or classroom examples. Do your very best NOT to use personal or family examples, examples from religious organizations or non-degree related association examples. 15

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And, when deciding whether to use an example from something you did when you were in high school vs. college ­ use the most recent example.

Case Interviews

Simply put, a "case" interview is the analysis of a problem, "case", or situation. Unlike most other interview questions, it is an interactive process. Your interviewer will present you with a "case" and ask you for your opinion. Your job is to ask the interviewer logical questions that will permit you to make a detailed recommendation. The majority of case interviewers don't have a specific answer that you, the candidate, are expected to give. What the interviewer is looking for is a thought process that is both analytical and creative ("out-of-the-box" thinking). Specific knowledge (for ex. food and nutrition) may be covered by the case question. However, if you don't have the specific knowledge needed, discuss where and how you would find the information, and how you would apply this information to the case. Types of Cases There are three primary types of cases you might encounter. They are: A project/case is described to you to analyze and reach a solution. You describe an experience from your past as a "case". Brain teasers or puzzles. What Do Interviewers Want in a Case Interview? Genuine interest in solving complex problems Logical thought process Structured hypothesis-driven approach Facility with numbers Resourcefulness Curiosity and creativity Comfort with ambiguity and uncertainty Business instinct Ability to synthesize and draw conclusions What Interviewers Do Not Want: One single right answer A textbook answer Strategies for Answering Case Questions Take notes. As your interviewer presents your case, be sure to take careful notes on the numbers or other facts given. (Always bring a notepad and pen to an interview.) You don't want to ask your interviewer to later repeat information that has already been given. Ask Questions. Your interviewer expects you to ask questions ­ as many intelligent questions as you need to obtain an accurate picture of the relevant facts in the case. 16

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Make No Assumptions. As a case interviewee, you should never make any assumptions. You should assume the persona of an "outside consultant" trying to learn about an assignment. Maintain Eye Contact. Always maintain direct eye contact during the case interview. Eye contact is critical when answering case questions ­ it demonstrates confidence and authority. Remember that in practice you may find yourself in front of the entire health care team discussing your recommendations for a particular patient. And then you have to answer questions! So you can see why case interviewing is helpful ­ it is a direct parallel to the environment dietitians must face every day. Think Out Loud. In order to successfully navigate case interviews, you will need to act quickly and confidently. The case is an opportunity to show the interviewer how you think. Your interviewer wants to know that you can reason in a rapid and logical fashion. As you assess, compile, and analyze the elements presented to you, be sure that you speak aloud and explain your reasoning. This is the only way the interviewer can assess your performance. If you are not comfortable thinking out loud, try practicing by yourself. Start with something simple like explaining aloud to yourself how to brush your teeth or change a tire. Minimize "ums" and other fillers, so that what you say is concise, direct, and clear. Be sure to tape record it and critique it! Next, try practicing on friends or family. Even speaking to yourself in front of a mirror will build your confidence thinking "on the fly" while simultaneously speaking. Present Your Thinking in a Clear, Logical Manner ­ Demonstrate Your Problem-Solving Skills! Step 1: Identify the problem. The interviewer is likely to start by briefly describing a scenario. For example, a patient presents with high blood glucose, or there is a power outage in the kitchen, or there is a shortage of important ingredients in a recipe, etc. Each situation deserves its own unique analysis, but the process is similar. The initial description is often, but not always, the symptom or result of the situation, and not the real cause of the problem. Regardless, through discussion, real potential problems (causes) must be indentified for analysis. Step 2: Analyze the problem. Somewhere along the way, in the preceding discussion, the interviewer is likely to focus the discussion on one specific aspect, even though the real problem might be multi-dimensional. The challenge for you now is to articulate how you would analyze the situation. Step 3: Formulate options. Given that you have analytically discussed and determined the causes of the problems, the next step is to think through the process of identifying potential solutions. You may propose specific actions. Step 4: Develop selection criteria. Careful thinking skills should be demonstrated as you next discuss what to do about the solution choices. How would you determine which solution choices are better?


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Step 5: Make recommendations. Each option outlined in Step 3 must be evaluated against the objective criteria of Step 4, quantitatively when possible and qualitatively when necessary.

You may not get through all of these steps in a case interview, but is all depends on the interviewer. The interviewer may guide you through some steps more quickly than others. No two case interviews are the same, even on the same case. Discussion evolves based on your interaction with the interviewer. Regardless, having an overall framework for problemsolving can only help. Additional Tips for Case Interviews Case interviews are also interpersonal interviews. They will be evaluating you on your communication skills, persuasiveness, interpersonal skills, professional readiness and achievement drive and energy. Answer the case question that is posed. This is a test of your active listening skills. Paraphrase back to the interviewer the question or statement to make sure you have the same meaning as the interviewer. The case is not a race ­ take your time to collect your thoughts. Silence is appropriate and necessary for you to organize your thoughts. ASK QUESTIONS. Cases are a give and take exercise. You will not be given all the relevant information, so ask for more. Questions are the best method for demonstrating inquisitiveness. There are not right answers but some approaches may be more right than others. Keep in mind some of the cases you are asked to respond to might have been a real life situation that took months to work through. You have limited time so don't get "stuck in the weeds". Use, don't abuse, frameworks to help you organize your thoughts. Pick the one most appropriate for the given scenario and use it to articulate your thinking and perspective. Develop your analysis into a compelling story. Be decisive. Summarize the problem, relevant issues and solution in a concise manner. PRACTICE! Case interviews are a learnable skill. The more you practice the more comfortable you become and the better you will get.

Actual Examples of "Dietetics-Related" Case and Behavioral Questions Used in DI Interviews

1. You are the dietitian in an out-patient clinic and you have a 58 year old woman recently diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Discuss how you would treat this patient. Include medical information you would need, treatment goals for the patient, and counseling techniques you would use. 2. How would you calculate protein needs for a child diagnosed as failure to thrive? 3. What clinical evidence would you use to assess whether a fluid restriction is appropriate for a patient with renal disease? 18

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4. Your preceptor comes up to you and says that you lack enthusiasm, you always need to be told what to do, and in general you do not meet the expectations of a dietetic internship. What would you do? 5. You are assigned to work with the pastry chef during a foodservice rotation but he basically ignores you. What would you do? 6. You are supposed to work with your preceptor to lay out your learning objectives for your rotation, but the preceptor is swamped and can't meet with you. What would you do? 7. A fellow intern seems to be struggling and very negative about the internship, especially a certain preceptor. How would you help the intern? 8. One of the cooks has been assigned to make macaroni and cheese for the cafeteria line. Meal service begins at 11:00. You check the line at 10:45 to discover that the dish doesn't look or taste the way it should. When you confront the cook, he insists that he followed the recipe. How would you handle the situation? 9. A doctor ordered total parenteral nutrition for a patient on your floor. What are the indications for administering TPN for a patient? How would you proceed? 10. It's 3:30 pm and the doctor would like you to make diet recommendations and changes for a 43 year old cancer patient who is losing weight. He wants changes made by the dinner meal. How would you proceed? 11. A friend comes to you with a product called "Melt-A-Way" that she wants to use. How do you respond? 12. You are an intern working with a senior center and the manager allows the seniors to take home leftover food in a milk carton. The dietitian has told you not to let them do this, but the manager said not to tell the dietitian. What do you do? 13. A nurse asks you to backdate a chart to comply with JCAHO standards. What do you do? 14. You are an outpatient dietitian and your patient is a 40 year old truck driver who is in the early stages of cardiovascular disease and has high blood pressure. He smokes and binge drinks occasionally. How do you start your interview with him? How do you set goals for this patient? How would you counsel him? 15. If you were working in your community rotation and were told to make a list of all community services offered in the area, how would you do this? 16. Your neighbor approaches you and asks about using artificial sweeteners to lose weight. What would you say to him? 17. What would you do if there was a snowstorm and ¼ of your staff couldn't make it to work? 18. You are at your community nutrition rotation and a family arrives for advice. They are vegan and their child seems to be smaller than average. What would you do? 19. If you walked into your rotation and there were call-ins, patient census was high and your preceptor was overwhelmed with also having to teach you, how would you handle the situation? 20. What would you do if a tube feeding was ordered? 21. If you were asked to teach a class on a topic that you knew very little about, how would you handle the situation? What if there was less than an hour to go until you had to teach the class and you still didn't know anything about the topic, what would you do? 19

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22. If you were working with a foodservice manager who had no nutritional background, and you disagreed on what to serve (i.e. he/she was expanding the menu to include more fatty options and you were trying to make the menu healthier), what would you do? 23. If you came upon a patient with a rare disease that you and your preceptor had never seen or heard of before, what would you do? 24. If you recommended a certain amount and type of tube feeding and the Dr. orders something completely different, what would you do? 25. If you had to modify a brochure that was used for one group of people for another group, how would you do that? 26. You are working in an outpatient clinic and have an elderly Type 2 diabetic patient with low literacy. How would you educate him and what would be your short-term and long-term goals for him? 27. Your patient is an obese child of a low-income single mother. How would you counsel them? 28. Describe the nutritional care process and how you would use this in patient care.

"Wild Card" Interview Questions

Within the last ten to fifteen years, some strange and different interview questions have come into use among interviewers around the United States. Some of these questions sound like "pop psychology" quizzes from magazines, some sound like a psychiatric examination, some appear to be like logic puzzles, and some don't make much sense at all. These "off-the-wall" questions are designed to make you think, think creatively and quickly, and tap into your inner resources and personality components. Unusual questions are often asked by an interviewer in order to find out more about your inner self and how your mind works. It is a way to get to know you better without asking questions that are overly personal. Your answer to such questions will tell the interviewer whether you will be a good fit for the organization, as well as how creative you are and how well you can think in spur-of-themoment scenarios. Before answering a question you feel is odd, take a deep breath and think for a moment or two, and then answer candidly. Don't try to think of an answer that the interviewer wants to hear. Just be yourself. Sample "Wild-Card" Questions The following questions have been used recently in interviews around the country. Some of the questions have tips given to help you understand what the interviewer is looking for with the question. If you were a tree (or animal) what kind of tree (animal) would you be? For either one, pick something strong and/or intelligent like a tiger or lion and try to relate the animal to the skills needed on the job. - no snakes and nothing fluffy and cuddly. For trees, pick an oak (strong and long-lived) and not a weeping willow. If you were a Star Trek® [or Star Wars® ] character, which one would it be? 20

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This is easy. There are a lot of fun and "pop" quizzes based on sci-fi personalities. Pick a character that is a leader and a bit of a risk-taker. Captain Kirk, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Spock, Sarek, etc. What is your favorite color? There are some personality and work-styles quizzes based on colors. You are invited to a large cocktail party at a country club. When you arrive, the room where the party is being held is already over half full of people. How do they react to you when you enter the room? This question tests for self-confidence. What color is your brain? Creativity. (Example answer: "My brain is red because I'm always hot. I'm always on fire with new plans and ideas.") Why are manhole covers round? This question is looking for a creative answer. What is your favorite drink? Personality may be a little like a drink, but an answer to this question also may tell your employer whether you drink alcohol or not. In order to keep health insurance costs low, the company may try to hire non-drinkers. What is the last book you read? Employers like employees who read the newspaper and magazines related to their industry. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be? Shows interests and creativity. How would you explain a database in three sentences to your eightyear-old nephew? This one shows creativity and your ability to summarize a topic. If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be? Shows interests and personality. If you could invite one person from the past to dinner, who would it be and why? Shows interests, personality and creativity. If you had only six months left to live, what would you do with the time? Creativity, goals, planning. If you were a type of food, what type of food would you be? Personality and "healthy" choices. If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money? Creativity, goals, planning, generosity, responsibility. If you were written about in the newspaper, on the front page, what would the headline say? Creativity, personality, accomplishments. Who do you like best, your mom or dad? 21

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I'd be careful of this one and say I liked them both. Don't indicate family problems in an interview. Say something about what each parent taught you that has helped you become a success in life. What kind of people do you dislike? Be careful with this one, because if you name any minority class of individuals or political party, you will be branded a bigot or "one of them". Say that there are no particular people you dislike, although you find some behaviors annoying - such as not completing work assignments on time, wasting the organization's time gossiping, etc. Be careful about admitting to having episodes of anger. Indicate that you handle problems as they arise so that they don't build up to the anger point.

Brainteaser Interview Questions

Part of the philosophy behind "brainteaser" interviews is that "IQ is all that matters". Bill Gates' hiring philosophy is based on the fact that a smart person can be trained to do anything. Intelligence is valued over skills or experience. Therefore, logic puzzles, riddles, and hypothetical questions are sometimes used in interviews. Questions may include: How many times a day do a clock's hands overlap? Why are beer cans tapered at the top and bottom? You have a five-gallon jug and a three-gallon jug. You must obtain exactly four gallons of water. How will you do it? You are in a rowboat on a lake with the anchor dropped. You pull up your anchor. Does the water level in the lake rise, lower or stay the same? How many gas stations would you say there are in the United States? This one displays how you think about solving a large problem. It's about estimations vs. actual calculations and sometimes you can do both. It is important to stay focused and be adept at answering all types of questions. Keep your poise and sense of humor . . . and think carefully about the questions. Interviewers are often evaluating your ability to think on your feet.


On-Site Interviews

Many Dietetic Internships require on-site interviews. When you decide where to apply, be sure you know whether or not an on-site interview is required as travel will add significantly to the costs of the application process. To effectively prepare, try to obtain a list of the people with whom you will be meeting and their respective positions. Have suitable questions prepared for all of them. While you don't have to ask all of them different questions, remember that they will be discussing the interviews with one another so you want to have some variation; not only with the questions you ask but also with the examples you give. Some programs will do the interview as a "panel". Develop a strategy to 22

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effectively convey your distinguishing aspects in the site interview. Ask yourself "what are they looking for, and how can I show them I've got it". Here are some general tips for site-interviews: Remain friendly at all times. Socialize well during breaks (remember you are always "on camera"). If you are in a group (which happens occasionally), contribute early and often while recognizing the contributions of others. Volunteer to take notes or be the spokesperson. Be careful not to dominate or suppress others. Think before you act. Show confidence in all that you do. Don't let things bother you, go with the flow. If one interview did not go well, do not let it carry over into the next. Practice and prepare. Have lots of examples ready. Listen carefully to what others say. Be concise; think about what you are trying to communicate. Make sure to send thank you letters to each person you interviewed with the same day or a day or two after the interviews (at the latest). What to Bring to a Site-Interview Copy of your completed application and letter of application to the program. Transcripts Several copies of your current resume. Reference list and any evaluations of work performance. Samples of your work ­ show the interviewer articles you have written, programs from events you have planned, photographs of activities you have organized, and newsletters you have edited. These aids will convey information about your skills and abilities that your resume cannot. See the section on "Portfolios" below. Pen and paper to take notes. Portfolios Many counselors advise students to take a portfolio of work with them to job and internship interviews. Your portfolio holds evidence of your experience ­ examples and copies ­ of anything you've worked on and/or accomplished in school, at a job, or in volunteer work. For many students, a portfolio offers a comfortable way of demonstrating ability with "real life" examples and supportive evidence of qualifications. Use a folder or a 1-inch, three-ring binder with page protectors and separate items into sections (for example: academic achievement, leadership, communication skills, work experience, etc.). You want it to look neat and professional. Include your resume on the 1 st page. Also include copies of your transcripts, references, photos or graphs of projects, thesis abstracts, lists of publications, presentations, past tests from difficult classes, photos of on-the-job or academic projects, materials you created during work/volunteer experiences, awards/certificates, and job performance 23

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evaluations. You can ask a number of people what to include in your portfolio ­ e.g., a career counselor, a faculty mentor, an adviser or mentor from your field. Many will be happy to look through your portfolio and critique your selections. There is no "right" number of items to include in your portfolio. Remember ­ you don't have to show everything you've brought, but you also don't want your portfolio to be so thick and full that it looks as if you've brought everything you have ever accomplished. One portfolio may not work for every interview (although you'll probably use many of the same pieces for your interviews). To prepare your portfolio for an interview, review the program materials/website and choose examples of your work that relate to the skills and qualities that are important to the program. Then, review the pieces you've selected to include in the portfolio for this specific interview and order them within your portfolio according to topic. You want to be as organized as possible so that you can avoid shuffling through your papers to find examples. If you can, practice answering questions while pulling out examples from your portfolio. (For example, add a list of short- and long-term goals to your portfolio. When an employer asks about those goals, you can demonstrate that you have thought about them by pulling out your list.) Using Your Portfolio During an Interview Using your portfolio during the interview is like a grownup version of show-and-tell. There is a right time and a wrong time to present your portfolio or its contents to an interviewer. Don't hand over your portfolio at the beginning of the interview ­ the interviewer will be tempted to look through it while talking to you and may not give you his or her full attention. Or, the interviewer will listen to you and not see the great examples of work you've included. Don't save your portfolio until the end of the interview. The interviewer may have a very limited amount of time to spend with each candidate, so he or she may not have time to skim through your portfolio before the next interview. Your portfolio might go in a stack of applications to be examined later (if at all), at which time your work will not make a good connection to your interview. Also, don't put original documents into your portfolio ­ sometimes interviewers ask to take your portfolio with them. Make copies of everything that you include and be prepared to leave this copy of your portfolio upon request. Here's an example of how your presentation should work: The interviewer will ask you a question. Take a moment to think about your answer ­ and to pinpoint (in your mind) something in your portfolio that relates specifically to your answer. Answer the question. Then say, "I have an example of this in my portfolio." Next, open your portfolio and find the document as quickly and smoothly as possible. Introduce the document to the interviewer. You might say something like, "During my job at XYZ Hospital, I designed a more efficient way to handle between meal nourishments that streamlined the process for the department. I have a drawing of the process that I believe demonstrates the skills we have been talking about. Take out your document, then be quiet. Wait for the employer to look up (this is a signal that the employer has finished examining your document) or until the employer asks a question 24

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about your work. Or, if the silence is too uncomfortable, you can point out specifics of the example you are showing. The interview will then naturally flow to another question ­ and another example from you. At the end of the interview, when the employer asks "Is there anything else you want to share with us?" you can show a project that you feel especially proud of from the portfolio. Or, you can ask the interviewer, "Can I share with you any other items from my portfolio?"

What to Wear to an Interview

For interviews, professional dress is the most appropriate form of attire. Professional dress, for men, simply means a dark business suit, conservative dress shirt worn with a tie, and shined dress shoes. For women, professional dress means a dark skirted or pants suit, conservative dress shirt, hosiery and pumps (closed toe with a heel). Note: No matter what the interviewer wears for the interview or what the attire is in the work environment for the program you are interviewing for, the appropriate attire for you as a student and interviewee (unless otherwise indicated) is business professional. Remember, the Program Director (and other interviewers) already works for the organization ­ YOU are the one being evaluated. Wearing business professional attire shows that you take the interview or event seriously.

Choices in Women's Attire

Item Suit Business Professional Conservative well-pressed ­ black, navy, gray, brown ­ suit is best. Choose either a skirted or pants suit, whichever you are more comfortable in.* Neat, pressed, and clean traditional button-down, collared or simple round neckline shirt in conservative and basic colors such as white or light pastel. Clean and presentable dress shoe in an appropriate color matching your suit. Heels are not required but a classic pump is recommended for a professional look. Avoid flashy shoes such as stilettos or platforms. Hosiery must be worn with skirted suits and is highly encouraged with pants suits as well. Choose a basic color in a sheer style (no patterns) that is appropriate with your suit color. Keep an extra pair handy as they snag easily. If carrying a purse, keep it small and in a color that matches your attire. Avoid distracting jewelry and keep it simple. Stay away from flashy make-up and fingernail polish. Make




Accessories & Grooming


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sure to be well groomed and have your clothes freshly pressed. Carry a basic black or burgundy portfolio for resumes.

* NOTE: Make sure that the skirt length is to the knee when standing. Also, make sure the suit is not too tight and you can sit and move comfortably. Many popular trends feature fashionable suits that are tightly fitted, short in length, low cut tops, and stiletto heels. However, keep in mind that what is fashionable isn't always appropriate for business. Being conservative is the best way to dress.

Choices in Men's Attire

Item Suit Business Professional Conservative well-pressed ­ black, navy, gray­ suit is best. Sleeves of the jacket should extend to the hand. Suit pants should typically match the jacket and have a plain or pleated front. Make sure to remove all exterior tags. Neat, pressed, and clean traditional long-sleeved button-down collared shirt in conservative and solid colors; avoid bright colors and patterns; no short sleeves. Show a quarter inch of your dress shirt at the bottom of your jacket sleeve. Many recommend a white or light blue shirt. Wear a barrel cuff shirt which is a shirt with one button at the bottom of the sleeve. Do not wear cuff links to an interview. Choose a good quality (often silk) tie in a conservative color and/or pattern that is properly tied*. Avoid wearing flashy and bold patterns or character prints that are distracting. Avoid ties that are fashion forward in color like pink, fuchsia and dark olive. It's OK to pick up the color of the suit in the tie, but it does not have to match exactly. Striped ties are always appropriate with the best color choices being burgundy, red or gold. Choose small patterns that complement your suit. The bottom of your tie should hit right at your belt. Tie a medium size knot. Avoid big knots. Clean and shined lace up dress shoe, in a traditional black or brown, coordinating with your suit. Wear dress socks in a coordinated color with your suit. Belts should always be worn and also match your suit and shoes. Match your sock color to your pants color. If wearing a watch, make sure it is conservative. Avoid wearing facial/body piercings, which can be distracting. Beards or mustaches should be trimmed. Carry a basic black or burgundy portfolio for resumes. Wear minimal cologne and have a neat and polished appearance.




Accessories & Grooming

*NOTE: Don't know how to tie a tie? Visit or which provides easy-to-follow diagrams as well as simple step-by-step instructions to make sure your tie looks great. The Button Rule ­ When wearing a two or three button suit jacket or sports coat, remember the Button Rule. When standing, depending on the number of buttons, button either the top or top two buttons - leaving the bottom button undone. When seated, all buttons can be undone. Stay away from jackets with more than 3 buttons since they are considered to be more trendy. 26

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Items to Avoid ­ Women

TOPS Tank tops Cropped tops T-shirts w/slogans Low-cut necklines PANTS Jeans Leggings Shorts/Short skirts Jogging pants/Workout clothes COLOR Bright colors Loud prints Gimmicky styles, outdated fads Faded colors SHOES Sandals/FlipFlops Sneakers Hiking boots/Uggs Stiletto heels ACCESSORIES/GROOMING Strong, Over-Powering Perfume Bright Colored Makeup/Nail Polish Holes in Hosiery

Body/Facial Piercings; Visible Tattoos

Items to Avoid ­ Men

TOPS Tank tops/Muscle shirts Un-tucked shirts T-shirts w/logos and slogans Un-pressed shirts PANTS Jeans COLOR Bright colors SHOES Sandals/FlipFlops Athletic tennis shoes Hiking boots ACCESSORIES/GROOMING Strong, Over-Powering Cologne Messy, Uncontrolled Hair Dirty Hands and Fingernails Body/Facial Piercings; Visible Tattoos

Sweatpants/Workout clothes Shorts

Loud prints Faded colors

Sloppy and oversized pants

Outdated trends

Work boots

Additional Tips Stay away from sheer clothing, low-cut shirts, and anything that shows your belly. Short skirts do not work. Provocative is not professional. Get rid of visible body piercings and cover up tattoos. It might seem unfair, but the fact is you could be overlooked for a position because of a tongue stud or tattoo. 27

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Forget casual wear and worn, torn shoes. Use some shoe polish to shine up your look, or if you can afford to buy new shoes, do. Pants should be worn at your natural waist which is right below your belly button. Do not wear them down low, or they will look sloppy. Pants should be able to stay up on your waist without a belt. Pant length matters. You don't want pants to be too long or that will look unfinished and untailored. Think conservative. It's better to be overdressed than underdressed. Avoid trendy clothing and big patterns. Make sure your clothing fits. Uncomfortable clothing is distracting. The focus should be on what you are saying, not on what you are wearing. When you are shopping for interview suits, consider buying a more expensive outfit if it has classic lines and good fabric. It will wear better than a trendier, less expensive suit. You can always add new tops/shirts and accessories to freshen your look. Stick with solid, dark colors: navy, brown or black. Make sure your shoes are closed toe with a conservative heel. Go easy on the perfume or cologne. You don't want to offend anyone. Get rid of gum, candy or cigarettes. Do not wear sunglasses on your head into an interview. Trim and clean your fingernails. Wash and fix your hair in a professional manner. Check your appearance just before you enter an interview. Plan ahead; don't wait until the last minute to purchase your professional business attire. Stores have great sales on attire throughout the year and you may need time to have it tailored.

A first impression can make or break an interview; therefore, don't treat these professional opportunities like fashion shows but rather a place to. . . . . . "dress to impress!" Check out the following videos on Dressing for Interviews at: You may click on previews for "Interview Dress for Men" and "Interview Dress for Women" (as well as other videos). Telephone Interviews

Because of the obvious focus on communication skills, the phone interview can be intimidating. In addition, students often make the mistake of not preparing as thoroughly for this type of interview as they would for a face-to-face interview. Being organized and understanding the differences between a phone and personal interview are critical for success.


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Using the telephone for social and informal purposes is easy for most of us. However, using it for professional purposes is quite another matter. Remember that a telephone interview (much like business E-mail) must be strictly professional. You must adapt a manner in using the phone that conveys your seriousness of purpose, ability to concisely communicate your strengths, and desire to obtain the internship. The clear advantages of the telephone interview are that you are in a comfortable, familiar place (office or home) and that you can have all your papers (portfolio items) at your fingertips. You have unlimited control over your environment. The disadvantages are also quite obvious. Your voice is the sole means of communication. You cannot obviously use eye contact, facial expressions, body language, or other visual means of communication to express your interest in the internship. Nor can you respond to the interviewer's nonverbal cues or attempt to interpret his/her interest. You are selling yourself using only words and the tone of your voice. Some general advice follows. Conduct a phone interview from a land line whenever possible to avoid the chance of your cell phone getting fuzzy or cutting out. If you do not have access to a land line, find a quiet room to conduct the interview. Make sure to clarify if you will be calling the interviewer at a certain time or if they are calling you. Make sure your voicemail message is professional! Keep a log of which programs you are expecting to hear from and brief roommates, partners, or children on how to take the best message for you (possibly by letting a machine take the message). Prepare as if this were a face-to-face interview. Know your application, resume, cover letter, transcripts ­ i.e. all application materials ­ inside and out. Be able to provide specific examples to support your strengths, interests, and abilities. Show enthusiasm. Ask questions. Place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door. Turn off the stereo, TV, and radio. Turn off the call-waiting function on your phone. Turn off your cell phone if using a land line. Have the following items handy (and preferably set up in a private, quiet place where you will be able to concentrate): All of your application materials (including the personal statement you wrote for the program), other portfolio items (such as list of publications, presentations, sample projects and papers) Any correspondence with the internship Any information you have about the program and organization, website information and other literature (maybe have their webpage up on your computer) Paper and pen to take notes Calculator Notes to help you answer common interview questions (i.e. answers to sample questions you have prepared for) 29

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Basic references ­ including all nutrition, food science, and foodservice management textbooks A list of past situations you could use as examples A list of questions to ask the interviewer A glass of water Write down the names of the interviewers (spelled correctly). Refer to them as Dr., or Mr. or Ms., unless otherwise indicated. Take quick notes during the interview. At the close of the interview, thank the interviewer using his or her name. Speak slowly and in a normal tone. Articulate clearly. Choose words carefully. Your diction, voice level, intonation and choice of words are your main forms of communicating. Enunciate. Don't chew gum or smoke. Don't use a speakerphone. Keep the mouthpiece close to your mouth. Smile. Believe it or not, smiling while you talk helps! You will sound more interested and friendly. A smile over the phone can be recognized. Try it. Your smile will help your voice convey energy and enthusiasm. Allow for silences or pauses. If you need more time to consider a question, simply ask for it, since silences are more pronounced on the phone. Listen. With no other communication clues except a voice, it is critical for you to focus and listen carefully. Ask for clarification if you don't understand a question. You won't have clues from an interviewer's body language, eye contact, or other such signs. You'll have to pay close attention, instead to their voice pattern. If you feel unprepared or uncomfortable with your phone skills, practice with a friend. Do a mock interview with someone with two chairs positioned back-to-back. You will realize the importance of using strictly verbal communication. Also, you can make good use of your voice mail here; leave yourself a message. When you get home, listen to how you sound, listen to your voice pattern (enthusiasm, highs/lows, pauses, and so on). Also, listen to the content ­ was your message clear and direct? Keep practicing until you're comfortable with the results. Dress nicely for a telephone interview! It will help you maintain a serious, professional manner and the right mindset. Do not slouch or roll your eyes at any point during the interview. Don't interrupt, although some "over-talk" is bound to happen on the phone. Confirm that what you said has been "heard". For example, ask "Do you need more detail?" or "Does that answer your question?" When the interviewer seems to have no questions left, make sure you have questions prepared to ask them. Hanging up can be awkward. Have a closing line planned, end on a high note, not an awkward one! Thank him/her for making the time to call you and reaffirm your interest in the program. Confidently hang up. Follow up with a thank-you note, just as you would for an in-person interview. 30

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Telephone Etiquette Answer the phone promptly. A phone should be answered at the end of the first ring; no later than on the third ring. Waiting time seems longer to the caller than it actually is. Identify yourself. If you are asked to make the call, identify yourself immediately after saying hello. Explain the reason for your call. Do not put the interviewer "on hold" to answer another call, if possible. If you find it necessary to place someone on hold (i.e. EMERGENCY), always ask permission. Whenever possible, ignore the call-waiting signal rather than interrupt your conversation with the person on the line. Hang Up Gently. Slamming the receiver makes an unpleasant noise in the caller's ear ­ it's like slamming the door in a person's face. The Five Most Common Telephone Courtesy Faux Pas Hanging up instead of apologizing first when you reach a wrong number. Saying "he/she has my number" rather than leaving it, when the person you are calling is unavailable to take your call. Not returning telephone calls promptly. Putting someone on a speaker-phone without asking permission. Recording a "cute" message on your voice mail, rather than a business-like one that is to the point.

Videotape/Videoconferencing Interviews

Occasionally, programs have conducted telephone interviews and asked the student to submit a videotape of the interview. Another method is to send the interview questions and require the student to submit a videotape answering the questions. Follow-up questions via the telephone may proceed if clarification is needed. In addition, videoconferencing as an interview method is becoming more popular. The following are a few tips for successful video interviews. Treat your video interview as seriously as an on-site interview. Be on time (if applicable) and be prepared. Dark clothing is best suited to a video interview. Avoid fabrics with busy patterns and do not wear solid white or red; these colors do not come across well. Speak clearly and slowly. You do not need to shout. Allow the other party to finish speaking before beginning your response. Small gestures and nervous habits are magnified on camera, so necktie-flipping, hair smoothing, paper clip-twisting and pen-jiggling should be tamed. Focus on the image of the interviewer. Minimize your own picture and avoid looking at your own image. 31

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Keep in mind that although the interviewer is not in the room with you, he/she can see and hear everything that goes on in your room during the interview. As the site is being connected, be careful of off-the-record comments. They can get picked up and broadcast to the entire "assembly". Relax and be yourself. Your personality and qualifications will come across well during the video interview. Don't forget to smile! Avoid shiny, clunky jewelry, which can be distracting. Because of delays in transmitting the signals, wait a second or two to respond until you are sure the speaker's comments have cleared through the system. Look into the camera while speaking instead of looking into the monitor showing the faces of the long-distance participants.


Answers to Common Interview Questions

In every interview there are many questions that are difficult to answer. You may prepare by anticipating the questions and practicing your answers. Below are some commonly asked questions by interviewers and suggestions for answering them. 1. Tell me about yourself. This is a favorite question to start with in many fields. It is very beneficial for you to have an answer prepared, as it helps you begin the interview feeling relaxed and prepared, instead of caught off guard, trying to quickly come up with an appropriate answer to an abstract question! This is not the time to go into a lengthy history or wander off in different directions. Use the following tips when preparing a response: Your response should be focused and purposeful. Communicate a pattern of interests and skills that relate to the dietetic internship position. One of the most effective ways to prepare for this question is to develop a 60-second biographical sketch that emphasizes a pattern of interests, skills, and accomplishments. Focus your response around a common theme related to your major interests and skills. Construct a thoughtful, logically sequenced summary of your experience, skills, talents, and education. Consider your response to this question as a commercial that sells your autobiography Talk about what brought you to this point. Include relevant details such as: college/educational experiences, research you have done on the field/career/position, work/intern/volunteer experiences that have guided you here, and other information that is relevant (strengths demonstrated by specific accomplishments and importance of them to the program, etc.). Do not talk about pre-college experiences or events, unless they have had a specific impact on where you are now. The answer should be concise and tightly focused (2-3 minutes at most).


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Write your introduction on a piece of paper. Rehearse until it no longer sounds scripted, but natural and conversational. 2. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses? It is helpful to decide which strengths and weaknesses you are going to use for each interview. Prepare 2-3 of each (preferably more strengths than weaknesses). You may be asked what friends or former supervisors would say your strengths and weaknesses are, but the answers will not likely change much. Strengths Aim for confidence without cockiness. Choose some things that are relevant to the program/position and also try to find some things that may set you apart from the competition. Describe new ways these skills could be put to use in the internship. Back up your strengths with specific examples! How have you demonstrated leadership, good communication skills, team building, independence, interpersonal skills, adaptability/flexibility, problem solving abilities (use work related problems) etc.? Relate your strength to the program and to the field of dietetics. Let them know you are a qualified candidate! Weaknesses Keep them very concise ­ you don't want to dwell too long on the negative. Don't use the word "weakness". Think of them as "challenges" or "areas you'd like to improve". Turn this question into a positive! Your best bet is to admit to a weakness that isn't catastrophic, inconsistent, or currently disruptive to the field of dietetics, and to emphasize how you've overcome or minimized the problem. Choose a weakness that is not completely central to the program (you don't want them to see red flags!), but not one that is completely irrelevant (i.e., "I am not a very good skater."). Don't answer this question with "I can't think of any", or even worse, "I don't really have any major weaknesses". Interviewers want to see self-awareness. A self-aware intern or employee is easy to supervise and will likely do well. Don't give too many ­ one is enough! Consider asking close friends or family members for suggestions. Do not mention something that can be seen as a personality/character flaw (such as being a procrastinator) or something that is heavily work related. Focus on behavior, a program or task you are unfamiliar with and are willing to learn more about (especially if you have a plan to learn about it or have already started). Choose weaknesses that are pretty easily overcome and talk about how you are working on them. 3. What are your short-term and long-term goals? Programs/employers like students who know what they want to do and who are focused on specific professional goals. Arrive at the interview with a vision of what you want to do today, tomorrow and five years from 33

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now. Be consistent with your application/resume/cover letter and the skills and accomplishments you are communicating to the interviewer. Keep your answer employer-centered. For example, discuss how you would like to use your specific skills to help employers meet their goals, etc. It's fine to discuss interest in a specific area of dietetics. However, if you do, be sure the program offers a rotation in that area. (For example, don't tell a VA Hospital you are interested in pediatrics!) In addition, be sure to communicate that you are looking forward to learning from all areas/rotations offered in the program. Show you have put some thought into this question. You may not have the rest of your life all figured out (and that is okay) ­ just tell them the parts you do have figured out. Do not discuss your goals in a field unrelated to dietetics and avoid the temptation to suggest job titles. Describe new experiences or responsibilities you'd like to add that build on current skills. 4. Describe a major goal you've set for yourself recently. Give an example of a goal you both set and achieved. Ideally, this should be a professional goal such as improved time management skills, achieved new performance targets, or learned a new skill. Talk about results of achieving your goal. This indicates you set realistic goals and that you can focus on outcomes. Select an example that has interesting outcomes related to your efforts. The example should showcase your skills and abilities. What type of decisions do you have difficulty making? Show that you are generally decisive but mention that there are situations that give you time to pause or you are learning how to better make decisions. For example, "I sometimes have difficulty choosing between two equally good ideas." Or "I used to have difficulty saying `no' to people until I learned to better set priorities." Can you tell me of a time you dealt with a challenging person and how you handled that situation? In general, how do you handle conflict? Interviewers are looking for how well you incorporate real life examples into your answer. It can be a struggle to come up with a specific example on the spot, so prepare for this question in advance. Try to think of several scenarios that were positive and several that were negative ­ rich scenarios that you can tailor to the question at the interview. Especially with the negative questions, it is very important to not get too negative. In your answer, give challenging people the benefit of the doubt. Show that you are professional, not bitter or nasty, and how you rose above it all to handle the situation! Why should we select you (rather than "50") other candidates for this internship? Do not be distracted by the mention of many candidates. You don't know anything about them and it could be an exaggeration. Focus on what strengths you bring to the table. These should be consistent with the four things most employers are looking for in candidates during the interview: competence, professionalism, enthusiasm, and likeability. Remember, they 34

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are looking for chemistry between you and them. Be prepared to summarize in 60 seconds why YOU are the best candidate for the program. Also, let them know you want a position in their internship and you will enjoy working with them. A lack of interest may indicate a lack of enthusiasm for the program and them. What's the most compelling example you can give to prove your interest? If the question isn't asked, you should find an opportunity to use your prepared response sometime during the interview, perhaps in your closing remarks! What distinguishes you from others who can do the same tasks that you can? Do you have better work habits than the others, do you show up earlier, stay later, work more thoroughly, work faster, maintain higher standards, go the extra mile, or . . . what? 8. How do you spend your spare time? What activities outside work do you enjoy? This question may have several purposes. The interviewer may be just curious about your personal life without getting into illegal questions. He may also want to know how well rounded you are in your personal and professional lives. Do you have an outlet, a way to break from work, so that you show up each day refreshed and ready to perform at your highest level? Describe something specific that allows you to relax. Are your personal and career interests compatible in terms of their logic or thought process? The interviewer may also be looking here for a history of commitment over time, and consistency of interests. Do you sustain your hobbies over a period of time, or do you have a different hobby every year? Are your interests compatible with the job you're applying for? Would they be of value in any way to the program? For example, "I've been involved in Cancer Society fundraising ever since my grandmother died from the disease. In the back of my mind I guess I'm hoping the research can lead to findings in time to save the life of someone else in my family." If possible, try to relate your answer to this question to the "job description". Think about what outside activities complement your work interests. 9. Why do you want to work in dietetics? Why did you choose dietetics? Tell a story about how you first became interested in dietetics. Provide proof that you are in this field to stay. What excites you about dietetics? What proof can you offer that your interest has come from a deep curiosity ­ perhaps going back a number of years ago ­ rather than a current whim you'll outgrow. (This is an important question - especially if you switched majors numerous times in college.) Discuss, for example, an experience or a conversation that's allowed you to assess the field or to preview the work involved. Describe other people in the profession who have been mentors or who have taught you about the field. Point out how you learned more about dietetics, and how you stay current with trends in the field. 35

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Why did you choose to apply to this program? Describe how you learned about the program and the organization. What would be particularly motivating to you about working there as opposed to a different internship? The interviewer will look for evidence of genuine interest and more than just surface research on the program and organization. Describe things you believe the program/organization does very well. Give one or two examples of what you've learned about the program/organization to explain why you are interested in them. What's the most compelling example you can describe to prove your interest? Where do you want to be in 5 years? This open-ended question is one of the most difficult ones to answer. Employers ask this question because they are looking for people who know what they want to do and who are focused on professional goals. Be consistent with the objective on your application and the skills and accomplishments you're communicating to the interviewer. Don't give specific time frames or job titles. Talk about what you enjoy, skills that are natural to you, realistic problems or opportunities you'd expect in dietetics, and what you hope to learn from those experiences. You should not discuss your goals in a field outside of dietetics. Your answer should be employer-centered. For example, "In 5 years, I hope to be working in dietetics in an increasingly responsible position, which enables me to utilize my talents and work closely with my colleagues in solving important problems."



Tell me about a time you didn't perform to your capabilities. This question forces the candidate to describe a negative situation. Do so in the context of an early career mistake based on inexperience; then demonstrate the better judgment you now have as a result of that learning experience. For example, "The first time I had to give a presentation, I did not anticipate some of their questions. I wasn't prepared for anything other than what I wanted to report. Now I brainstorm all of the what-ifs in advance and it has really paid off." How do you manage stress in your daily work? It might be helpful here to describe a stressful project you've worked on and the specific actions you took to organize each step and see the project through. How do you keep yourself calm and professional under pressure? For example, "I try to take a short break to clear my head. I also have a personal rule that stops me from reacting to a problem until I feel calm about it. I think, then act. I've learned to do that over time." How do you regroup when things haven't gone as planned? Describe a time when some obstacle forced you to change your original plan, but you were still able to achieve the desired result. Did you rally the support of others to make this 36

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happen? With hindsight, how might you have better predicted the obstacle? For example, "I start by trying to imagine the worst possible outcome; then I back up and identify precautions I can take to avoid that scenario. In this way I usually end up with a result close to the original goal."


Tell me about your least favorite manager or professor. Be careful in answering this question. Keep in mind that the interviewer doesn't want to learn about your former supervisors; he or she does want to learn about the way you speak about them. Making a negative statement about a former employer (or professor) can create a host of problems. Even if your claim is completely true and justified, the interviewer may conclude either that you don't get along with other people or that you shift blame to others. The best way around this dilemma is to choose an example that's not too negative, touch upon it briefly, then focus the rest of your answer on what you learned from the experience. Who's the toughest employer you've ever had, and why? Again, you should avoid making negative statements about your previous employers, at all costs. Turn the question around with a positive, upbeat response. For example, "That would be Mr. Franklin. He would push people to their limits when things got busy, and was a stickler for detail. But he was always fair, and he rewarded good, hard work. I'd call him a tough boss, but a good boss. I learned a lot about the importance of detail and how to work efficiently." Tell me about an effective manager, supervisor, or other person in a leading role you've known. Talk about a supervisor's management style and interpersonal skills. Focus on the positive ­ how the person worked rather than what type of work he or she did. How was the person able to accomplish so much and get your support? For example, "The best professor I ever had always reviewed the most important points from our last class before he moved on to new material. He also watched our faces carefully and repeated information whenever he saw a blank stare. Sometimes he would just ask for feedback by saying, "What are you having difficulty with?" How have you handled criticism of your work? The interviewer is looking for an indication of the candidate's accountability and professional character. Describe a specific project or work habit that caused you a problem until you faced up to it and overcame it. Alternatively, you might describe a time you responded objectively and professionally to particularly harsh or unreasonable criticism of your work. Tell me about a situation that frustrated you. Or, tell me about your most difficult work or personal experience. This is another question designed to probe the candidate's professional personality. The interviewer will want reassurance that you are able to hold up under pressure. Describe a 37

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situation, either professional or personal, that involved a great deal of conflict and challenge and placed you under an unusual amount of stress. What, specifically, were the problems, and what did you do to resolve them? Describe how you remained diplomatic, objective, and professional in a difficult situation.


Are you most productive working alone or in a group? The interviewer is looking for someone who can work in an environment without the environment disrupting the candidate's preferred way of getting work done. Be honest but communicate that you're a flexible and reasonably adaptable employee. For example, "I need some privacy time for planning, but otherwise I like the activity and noise of people around me and the ability to share ideas. I enjoy having my own responsibilities, but enjoy the atmosphere of working as a health care team member." If this were your first performance review/evaluation with our program, what would I be telling you right now? For this question you obviously want to present a positive impression. Remember to focus on one or two of your key strengths based on the personal themes you've developed. For example, "You'd be thanking me for a job well done and would be explaining how you look forward to continuing to see good work from me. Furthermore, I would anticipate your explaining how you really appreciated my putting in extra time on some key projects and how my creative thinking helped come up with some innovative solutions to existing problems." Time management has become a necessary factor in productivity. Give an example of a time-management skill you've learned and applied at work. When answering this question, describe a time management technique you've applied to work that's allowed you to save time and resources. In dietetics, as well as all other fields, time is precious. The interviewer will want to see that you have an idea of how valuable your time is. Try to give an example that demonstrates how you've managed to increase productivity because of effective time management. What is your greatest achievement to date? Be sure that the achievement you describe here is relevant to the internship program and dietetics. Also, be careful that your answer doesn't sound as if the best is behind you. Mention something great that you've achieved, but clearly communicate your belief that the best is yet to come. For example, "I'm proud of the fact that I graduated on time with a solid GPA while I played varsity basketball for four years. A lot of women on my team either took a reduced course load or let their grades suffer. I believe the reason I got through it all was sheer determination; I never even let myself visualize anything but finishing on time and with good grades. So I firmly believe, as a professional in this field, in the importance of determination and a positive outlook." How will you complement this program/department/organization? 38

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Describe how your personality and skills would help round out the program. What types of people enjoy working with you for hours at a time? How would the program's patients/customers react? What specific skills would you bring to their staff of dietitians? Assure the interviewer that there will be no surprises about your work personality.


How do you usually go about solving a problem? The interviewer will want to hear the logic you use to solve problems as well as the outcomes you're able to achieve. Are you decisive? How do you narrow the options and make decisions? What do people say about your reasoning skills? What examples would they cite of your effective decision-making? How do you organize and plan for major projects? Give the interviewer a good idea of your general approach to mastering complex tasks. You may wish to include here how you decide time frames, set deadlines, determine priorities, delegate tasks, and decide what to do for yourself. How would your best friend describe you? OR What kind of person are you? Interviewers want to know about your personality. Do you have the kind of personality that makes it easy for people to work with you, and do you share the values of the organization.



Exercise C: This exercise involves areas you should be prepared to field questions about, but don't want to bring up on your own unless asked. The interviewer will want to see what areas may need improvement. Be able to identify areas in which you're not as proficient and how you plan to or are currently working to improve. It is to your benefit to reassure the interviewer that you're committed to developing these skills quickly.

Areas needing improvement st My 1 year GPA is lower because I was not as focused academically as I should have been. I'm glad you brought up the fact that I have no paid work experience in a hospital. Plan for improvement/How I am improving Since that time, I improved my grades by setting aside specific times to study and utilizing my professor's office hours to ask questions. As you can see, my major GPA has improved significantly. However, I have worked as a dietary aide in a nursing home which provided direct patient contact with seriously ill patients on a variety of diets, including nutrition support, etc. In addition, my volunteer experience at XYZ Hospital provided me with . . . . . . . .


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Practice by Developing Answers to These Additional Questions

Below are some additional specific questions that have been asked in Dietetic Internship interviews recently. Take some time now to develop answers to some of these questions. 1. 2. Describe a time/scenario when you have shown sound judgment. List some experiences (work, school, etc.) that have, in particular, prepared you for this internship. Describe a time when you completed a project that you weren't interested in. Explain how you dealt with it. What was the outcome? Describe a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker or customer. When have you shown emotional stability and maturity? When have you shown mental and physical stamina and the ability to perform under pressure? When have you shown empathy for others? Describe a situation in which you demonstrated good communication skills. Give examples of your leadership abilities. Talk about your ability to function in a variety of settings. What role do you take in group settings? Describe a time when you had difficulty with a team member. How did you handle it? Describe your expectations for the Dietetic Internship (i.e. what you hope to get out of it) and how you will manage your time. What did you do to prepare for this interview? Select a recent "popular press" article about diet or nutrition and talk about it. Give an example of how/when you exercised your creativity. 40

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4. 5. 6.

7. 8. 9. 10. 11.


13. 14. 15.

16. Tell us about a time when someone at work (or in a volunteer experience) unhappy with you. How did you handle the situation? 17. Give us an example of a time when you were very stressed out/busy. What did you do? How did you get everything done? Describe a situation in which you demonstrated good interpersonal skills.


18. 19.

This internship has an emphasis in community nutrition. What do you expect to do in community rotations? What is community nutrition? What kind of people do you expect to work with in your community rotations? How would you implement a new community nutrition program? What is your definition of Public Health Nutrition? If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why? Who is the sickest person you have ever been around? What does wellness mean to you? How do you define wellness in a clinical setting? Describe a time when you went above and beyond a customer's expectations. Describe a project (individual) that you found particularly difficult. How did you handle it? What got you interested in Dietetics? List 3 words that you would use to describe yourself: one strength, one weakness, one your choice. What is your impression of low-income people? How do you keep your sensitivity to cultural diversity? How would you like to be supervised? On a scale of 1-10, how knowledgeable and applicable are you in clinical nutrition? Foodservice management? Community nutrition? What do you know about our internship? Months? Finances? Rotations? 41

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20. 21. 22. 23.



26. 27.

28. 29. 30. 31.


33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.

What is one skill you wish most to develop during your internship? You have finished the internship and passed the RD exam. What is your next goal? How would your peers describe your personality? What makes you feel good about your job performance? How do you feel about working with terminally ill patients. Choose one current issue that is influencing dietetics today. State your position and defend it. Give an example of your critical thinking skills. Describe a situation in which you have demonstrated flexibility or cooperation. Describe how you handled a situation where you disagreed with a policy or someone in authority, e.g., a supervisor or instructor. How do you find ways to improve yourself? In what way do you learn the best? What is your optimal learning environment? Describe, from your experience, how a dietitian has improved a patient/client/resident's outcome. What do you think the dietitian's role will be in 10 years? Is there anything you would change about our program? Tell us about a time you were given a project but little direction. How did you use this independence? What would you have done differently? If someone said you treated them unfairly, what would you do? How would you feel if an undeserved employee is selected as the "employee of the month" by the supervisor? Do you ever have fun in your work and what do you like in your job?

39. 40.


42. 43. 44.

45. 46. 47.

48. 49.



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Questions to Ask Internship Programs/Employers

Having questions in mind to ask will help you in gathering information about the program, but also emphasizes to the interviewer you have some knowledge of their program and organization. Always come prepared with well thought out questions. Use your research to ask pertinent questions. Even if you feel like the interview was very informative, the interviewer will still want you to ask at least one or two questions at the end. Lack of questions can indicate lack of interest. The following are examples of questions you could ask interviewers. What opportunities exist for interaction and collaboration with other health care professionals? How receptive are physicians to recommendations by the RD? How is staff development encouraged? What types of opportunities for professional development are there? What are the strengths of your team of RDs? What kinds of processes are in place to encourage team building and collaboration? What characteristics/experiences help a person excel in this program? What qualities are important to you in a dietetic intern? How are performance evaluations conducted and how often are they held? Ask a question about a specific rotation that is unique to them. What is the rotation like? How much responsibility is given to interns during this rotation? What challenges will your program/organization face in the next year/future? What future changes do you see for this program/organization? What impact will health care reform have on the organization? What values are most important to this program/organization? What opportunities are there to participate in nutrition support? What are the short and long-term goals for the program/organization? How would you describe the most successful interns in your program? Do you have a weekly schedule for the intern that I could review? What job opportunities have past interns had after the internship? What are some sample projects that interns complete? 43

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What type of computer technology is used in your program/department/organization? (spreadsheets, database management programs, computerized medical records, nutrient database programs, etc.) How are staff/interns encouraged to keep pace with advancing technologies? What can I do to prepare and ensure my success in the program?

Questions NOT to Ask Internship Programs/Employers

Don't ask questions that can be easily answered on the program/organization website or in any printed materials, etc. Here are some examples of questions NOT to ask: What will I be doing in the internship? Where are you located? What will my stipend be? Do I get paid overtime? Could you explain your fringe benefits package for students? What does the program consider a good absenteeism record? Can I see the break room? How many "warnings" do you get before getting booted out of the program?

Questions Employers Cannot Ask You

If you are confronted with an illegal question during an interview, consider your options. You can answer the question, redirect the conversation, or inform the employer the question is not appropriate. Interviewers should not ask personal questions that are not related to the job. The following is a list that employers in the US cannot ask you about: National origin/citizenship Age Marital/family status Sexual orientation Clubs or social organizations not relevant to the job Personal information such as height and weight Disabilities (unless related to the ability to perform the job; see Americans with Disabilities Act) Arrest record (unless related to the job)


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THE ACTUAL INTERVIEW Before the Interview

The day(s) before and of the interview: Prepare your materials including copies of your resume, cover letter, application, portfolio, etc. along with a pen and notebook. Think about what you will wear to the interview. Does anything need to be cleaned or pressed? Polish your shoes and belt. Eat 2 ­ 4 hours before you arrive. Moderate. Healthy. Become familiar in advance with the route you will travel to the interview. Buy or download a good map of the area and know where you can park. Scout the location well ahead if possible. Build flextime into your travel schedule. Allow for the unexpected and traffic! Arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes before your scheduled interview. Take the time to compose yourself and check your appearance in a nearby restroom. Empty your bladder. Take some slow deep breaths before you enter. Discretely. Check in with the receptionist ­ be friendly with office staff ­ the interviewer may ask them about you. Be mindful of the materials you read while waiting ­ best to read company material or something professional in nature. Look forward to the challenge of difficult questions and visualize a confident and comfortable meeting.

During the Interview

EVERYTHING about you is being observed; not only your dress and interview answers, but also your body language, facial expressions, posture, attitude, etc., etc.

How's Your Attitude?

Successful interviewing is not only about your experience, your grades, what classes you took, your extracurricular activities, or any of the other basic 45

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necessities. Those skills are what got you the interview. A key element to successful interviewing can be summed up in one word: attitude. If you want to rise above others with better experience, better grades, or better anything, you will need to work on developing a highly positive work attitude. Your attitude often determines whether you will "make the cut" or be discarded. Remember, there are plenty of applicants with the ability to complete the internship. The way many interviewers differentiate is by candidates' attitudes toward the program. Your attitude is often what interviewers will remember when the dust has settled after reviewing 10, 20, or even 100 candidates ­ the one who was sincerely willing to put forth his/her very best effort. If you have the attitude of wanting to do your very best for the program/organization, of being focused on their needs, or putting yourself forth as the person who will be committed and dedicated to fulfilling their needs, you will likely be the one chosen. Why is attitude so important? . . . because most organizations have their full share of Attitude

"The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, talent or skill. It will make or break a company . . . a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace that day. We cannot change our past . . . we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.

talented "superstars" who care only about themselves. Ask any manager who the most valuable member of their The onlyand they will point to the person who has the have,do" attitude, theattitude.who can be team is, thing we can do is play on the one string we "can and that is our person I am on in any situation, the person who truly strives for excellence. counted convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. ­


You can show your winning attitude in the way you present yourself. Incorporate the actual words "positive attitude", "excellence", and "striving to be my best" into your interview language. Then show by your stories and examples how these words positively affect your life. Show "when and where and how" you have put forth extra effort above and beyond the call of duty. Show how you beat a deadline, how you excelled in a project, or how you made a difference by going the extra mile.


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First Impressions

Your first impression can set the stage for what will follow. If you gain the interviewer's interest and are perceived positively by the interviewer from the beginning, you are more likely to be perceived highly in other ways (otherwise known as the halo effect). Often times, interviewers make a subconscious decision within seconds of meeting a candidate and spend the rest of the interview trying to validate their initial impression. Therefore, it is your best interest to convey images of professionalism, intelligence, confidence, and competence while being honest, enthusiastic, friendly, and likeable. General Tips for First Impressions Always be well-groomed and keep your clothing well-maintained. Jewelry should be simple and very limited. Leave strong smelling scents at home. When in doubt, always ere on the side of the more conservative and formal. Dark colors compliment your shape and create the appearance of authority. Be conscientious of the fit of your clothing. Keep your shoes polished and in excellent condition. Avoid gum chewing; it is not appropriate in the professional arena. Avoid unconventional hair styles and colors. Pay attention to the quality and condition of accessories such as pens, purses, etc. Beware of distracting physical habits such as twirling hair, clicking pens, etc. If given a name badge, place it on the right side of your body just below the collar bone. No smoking before the interview and be sure your breath is fresh. Body Language Wait to be offered a seat before sitting down. 47

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Be aware of your posture; good posture displays confidence. Sit with a slight forward lean, arms uncrossed to communicate interest. Sit erect even if your chair leans back. When sitting, never slouch. Keep legs and feet still because continuous shifting will be interpreted as boredom or anxiety. Do not swivel just because the chair does. Pull up to the table when you sit down. The table is the playing field. Never show the soles of your shoes when sitting, especially when interacting with individuals from other countries. Do not look at your watch. Maintain frequent eye contact as this helps to establish rapport and portrays trustworthiness. Spread it around evenly. Smile when you enter and when you leave . . . and hopefully many times in between! Avoid repeated tics like picking at the edge of the table or putting your hair behind your ears. Keep hands away from your face. Let your hands out of your lap. Hidden hands seem tentative. Some gesturing is not bad ­ it makes you seem animated. The same gesture over and over again is bad ­ it makes you seem automated. Handshaking A handshake begins with eye contact and a smile. Hands should always meet web to web and palm to palm, not palm to fingers. Grip should be firm but not crushing. Hold for approximately three pumps or three seconds. Start and finish an interview with a handshake. Hold your interview portfolio in your left hand in order to free your right hand for the handshake. "50-50 Rule Studies have revealed that generally those candidates who mix speaking and listening 50-50 during the interview get selected. In other words, speak about half of the time and let the interviewer do the talking during the other half of the interview. Why? If you talk too much about yourself, you may portray yourself as insensitive to the needs of others and/or the organization. If you talk too little, you may seem as though you are hiding something. Additional Interviewing Tips An interview is NOT a test; it is a conversation. They want to get to know you. Try to establish good rapport vs. worrying about the right answer. They are looking for the type of personality you have, whether you get along with people, whether you are a quick learner, independent, hard-working, etc. They want to see your thought process working through the questions and how you react under stress. Try to have a certain amount of detachment. (Don't feel desperate!) You want to decide if you want to invest in them, as well. (You may "reorder" the Dietetic Internships you 48

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prioritized before the DI application deadline or withdraw from the D&D Digital match before the "deadline date". However, after this date you are committed to the match.) Don't be passive. What do you want them to know about you? Help them get to know you! Almost all questions are an invitation to talk. It's insufficient to respond to a question with a simple "yes" or "no". Just be yourself, be excited, be open-minded and completely devoted to learning. Different interview panels are looking for how your personality meshes with their staff, as well as other intern candidates they are interviewing. You can't and shouldn't change your personality to fit them. Don't try to guess what the interviewers want to hear. Show them how you think. Treat each interview like it's the most important interview you've ever had. (Even if it's not your 1st choice, treat it like it is.) Be enthusiastic! Act confident! If you do not know the answer to a question, don't be afraid to say "I don't know". They are looking for honest and independent interns. Explain how you would go about determining the answer to the question. Move on if you botch an answer. Show respect for opposing views as you articulate your own. Answer questions slowly and thoughtfully. Do not feel the need to rush into an answer or babble on. (Realize when you have no more to say. Dead air beats rambling.) As dietetics is a "helping" profession, programs usually want people that have "heart", compassion, empathy and care about others; people that will go that "extra step" for others; an ability to look beyond their own needs. Have examples of these qualities! Be in control of the GPA ­ does it or doesn't it define how hard you have worked? If you don't understand the question, ask for clarification. It's ok to pause and think about the question before you answer it. "Keep your brain ahead of your mouth." Be careful not to tell them too much ­ i.e. personal details. Try to use examples that are work-related, rather than personal (strengths, problems you have encountered, problem-solving examples, etc.). 49

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Don't say anything negative about previous employers, fellow students, professor/instructors, former colleagues or supervisors. Don't volunteer anything negative! If you volunteer something more than you wanted, you might inadvertently give the interviewer a reason to reject you. Let them ask first and if they do ask, then just be honest.

After the Interview

Often, interviewers will ask if you have anything to "add" at the end of the interview. Be prepared to supply a 2 to 3 minute summary of your qualifications and interests and make the link to the program's needs. Do not leave this important step open for interpretation by the interviewer(s). Show them the match! Ask if you can supply other materials (portfolio materials, project summaries, etc.). If possible, obtain a business card for your records so you may accurately address a thank-you letter. Shake hands, continue making good eye contact, and thank the interviewer for their time, mentioning your strong interest and enthusiasm to join the program. Take notes right after the interview to remember crucial details either for your thank you notes or to compare with other programs for which you are applying. Note the names of people you met, the spelling of their names and their titles. (Obtain business cards when possible) Write a thank-you letter. Follow-up with thank-you notes to all the people who interviewed you. It's best if they're written the day of or the day after the interview and sending them via regular mail or e-mail are equally acceptable.

By sending a thank you message, you: Show common courtesy and appreciation, Stand out from the crowd, and Demonstrate your writing skills ­ so be sure they are well written and sound professional! In your note, thank the interviewer for his/her time, remind him/her of your strengths and interest in the program. Reaffirm your qualifications and any important points which were discussed. You may also wish to include additional information that you forgot to mention in the interview or something you learned about the program during the interview. Turn every interview into a learning experience. After the interview, ask yourself the following questions: What did you do or say that the interviewer obviously liked? Did you hijack the interview (grab control or speak too much ­ more than half the time)? Would you have done something differently if you could replay the interview? 50

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Worst Interviewing Mistakes

The following is a list of the "Worst Job Interview Mistakes" from Although written for "job" interviews, they also pertain to internship interviews. 1. Arriving Late Nothing makes a worse impression. If you can't turn up on time for the interview, what on earth would you do as an employee? If there's even a remote chance that weather, traffic or hard-to-follow directions might be a problem, leave absurdly early just to be sure. 2. Arriving Early Don't arrive too early, either! Arrive (in the building) at 3:30 for a 4 o'clock interview. Arrive in the waiting area 10­15 minutes before the interview. Relax somewhere nearby, focus on the interview, have a drink of water, review your portfolio and employer research, and check hair and clothing. 3. Dressing Wrong How you look has a lot to do with how you're "seen." Often in the very first few minutes of the interview, the decision is made whether it's going to be a turndown or a second interview. It either clicks on or it clicks off, and the remainder of the interview is spent validating that early judgment. Dressing too casually can ruin your chances. The safest choice for any interview is a tailored suit in a conservative color like black, navy, gray or tan. 4. Dressing in a Rush If you select your clothes right before you leave, you won't have time to fix the loose button or wrinkled shirt you've just discovered. In the job interview, neatness counts. Try on your entire interview attire several days before the appointment. That way you can make any necessary improvements, repairs or purchases. 5. Smoking In one Seattle University study, up to 90% of all executives surveyed said they would hire a nonsmoker over a smoker if their qualifications were equal. Anyway, smoking makes you look nervous. If you smoke, brush your teeth and use breath mints. Smell your clothes ... really! Yuck! 6. Drinking Even if this is a lunch or dinner interview and others are ordering cocktails, it is always best to order mineral water or soda. You need to be alert for this experience, not mellow. 7. Chewing Gum Gum is not a good substitute for cigarettes or self-confidence. Gum chewing looks appropriate only in vintage movies. 8. Bringing Along a Friend or Relative Don't laugh ... this happens! Tempting though it may be, resist the urge to bring someone along to hold your hand or help you fill out applications. Even being seen saying goodbye to your best friend or your spouse at the building door can make you look as if you didn't have the nerve to get there on your own. Being picked up afterward also reeks of dependency. 9. Not Doing All Your Homework 51

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It is not necessary to memorize the company's annual report, but you should know something about their products and services. Also remember, some of the best information can come from people who used to or currently work there. Research the program, the organization and the area. 10. Skipping a Dress Rehearsal You wouldn't make a speech to a class or student organization without planning what you're going to say, yet people walk into job interviews every day just assuming that brilliant words will leap to their lips. Don't assume. Make a list of the questions you'd ask if you were interviewing someone for this job then rehearse the best answers using a tape recorder and/or a friend for feedback. 11. Not Admitting a Flaw To the question, "What is your greatest weakness?," illustrate a weakness that you've tackled successfully. Respond by identifying the weakness, describing specific steps you have taken to improve. For instance, "Lack of confidence in my presentation skills was a weakness when I first arrived at college. Since then, I have sought out situations where I was forced to develop stronger communication skills. I have taken a speech class where four class presentations were mandatory. And, as an officer in our student organization, I have gradually become more confident in speaking to both large and small groups. I now realize the importance of having and continually improving excellent presentation skills." Be honest: Nobody believes you when you say your flaw is "working too hard". 12. Not Knowing Your Own Strengths Researching the program is only half your pre-interview homework assignment. You have to research yourself as well. You must know your own background so thoroughly that you are prepared to answer any question about it without hesitation and in enough detail to satisfy the interviewer. Hesitating, being vague on certain points, or groping for proper words destroys the effect you are trying to create. Make a list of ten work-related things you do well or know a lot about. Then, during your interview rehearsal, come up with graceful ways to bring them up. 13. Asking Too Many Questions If you were the interviewer, would you hire someone who hijacked the entire interview and put you on the defensive? Enough said. 14. Not Asking Any On the other hand, when the interviewer asks, "What questions do you have?," replying that he/she has covered the subject so well you don't have a thing to ask about is a bad idea, too. It makes you look uninterested, unimaginative or both. Take this opportunity to "close" the interview with a question or two. Also summarize your strengths and interests in a brief 1­2minute statement, "In addition to my questions, I would like to emphasize my interest in your program. I feel I have the right background and specific skills, such as (insert your strengths here) to excel in your program, make immediate contributions and fit in with your existing team of dietitians." 15. Inquiring About Benefits Too Soon "Ask not what the program can do for you but what you can do for the program--at least at this point in the selection process. If you seem more interested in the benefits or vacation/sick leave than in actual responsibilities 52

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of the position, the director may develop serious concerns about your priorities. 16. Revealing Your Price Tag (never bring up $$) This should not be a problem for dietetics internship interviews as you should know the stipend or the tuition. The time for these questions and clarification on financial issues is before you decide to apply. 17. Crying Discrimination Not every interviewer knows exactly which questions aren't allowed; in complete innocence they may bring up a forbidden issue. Don't jump up and scream accusations. Instead, reassure him/her that you can handle all your responsibilities. Even if the intentions aren't honorable, a dramatic protest is unlikely to get you the spot in the program. 18. Bad-Mouthing Your Boss Never say anything negative about a person or employer for whom you have worked. It brands you as a complainer. 19. Name Dropping Attempts to play "who do you know" with your interviewer have backfired. Drop the name of someone and it could turn out to be the interviewer's worst enemy. Announce that you went to school with the chairman of the board's daughter, Felicia, and it can come off as elitist. Even worse, the interviewer may wonder why Felicia didn't ask her dad to put in a good word for you. 20. Energy Failure It doesn't matter if you only slept four hours last night and are coming down with a cold. When you get to the interview, you have to appear bright-eyed and eager. Candidates with lackluster attitudes rarely get selected. Mental energy is what it takes, so psych yourself up before making your entrance. Some speakers play music right before presentations. Play an upbeat tune in your head. Think of yourself as a presenter whose show must go on. Remember the "Rocky" theme song? 21. Handshake Failure A limp or otherwise distasteful handshake is like bad breath, one of those things that even your best friends may never tell you about. So try this: Go to a trusted friend and say, "If I were going to develop the world's most perfect handshake, would I make mine a little firmer, a little more gentle, a little shorter, longer or what?" Then shake her or his hand to demonstrate. 22. Glancing at Your Watch Clock-watching gives the impression that you're "late for a more important date". Avoid that problem by asking beforehand, how much time you should allow for the interview. Then, always allow extra time. If the interviewer asks, "Will you have time to meet our vice president?" then you can say yes with certainty. 23. Playing the Hero(ine) In 999 of 1,000 jobs, you will work as part of a team. This is especially true in health care and dietetics. Never convey the message, "You guys need to work on your program, but I can show you how to turn it around." Instead, stress how well your talents and experience would mesh with those of others in the program. 24. Losing Your Cool Expect the unexpected. Occasionally, interviewers have been known to test job applicants by surprising them with loaded questions or blunt comments, such as, "What makes you think you can handle this internship?" Remain 53

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calm, even though your injured ego may be fleeing for the nearest exit. Some interviewers like to see just how professional you are. 25. Additional Mistakes: Acting bored, arrogant or cocky Unprepared for interview and making excuses Egotism/Over-confidence Tardiness/Not showing up for interview Abrasive, rude and demanding Poor oral communication and presentation styles Lack of interest Lack of program knowledge Poor eye contact Not turning off cell phones or electronic devices Failure to remove unprofessional photos/content from social networking pages, web pages, blogs, etc.!! Lastly... Now that you've absorbed the "do's and don'ts" of the job interview, feel free to set this aside, reflect on the purpose of the interview and its importance to you, and concentrate on what a fine job you will do. Then relax and be your best self.


For further information on interviewing, try the following resources: 1. Interviewing: The Riley Guide, This website includes articles on interviewing, as well as links to many websites that cover specific interviewing topics. Interviewing ­ Monster, This website includes articles, forums, and tips on interviewing. Internships and Interviewing, This website focuses on interviewing for internships. Interviewing, This website offers interviewing information for new college graduates. Websites that include interview videos: 54

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I have prepared a sample interview with some typical questions for you. The questions are located on the power-point presentation only. There is a slide for each question. After you have answered the question, advance the slide to the next one.


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