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Module 04

Preparing for
Successful Interviews

Module Outline
1. Introduction to Preparing for
Successful Interviews
2. Interview Goals and Objectives
3. The Importance of Preparation
4. The Preparation Process
5. Interview Questions
6. Exercise Review
7. Presentation & Etiquette
8. Conclusion

E-mail
coop1000@carleton.ca

Office Hours
Tuesdays 9:30 am 11:00 am
Co-op and Career Services, 401 Tory Building
(613) 520-6611
















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Introduction
Welcome to Module 4 - Preparing for Successful Interviews.

If you've prepared a polished and targeted resume that addresses the
needs of the employer, chances are you will be attending many interviews
since resumes get you interviews and interviews get you jobs.

While in co-op, you'll be juggling your interviews with your academic
studies which can prove to be quite challenging. For this reason, it's
imperative to understand the basic principles of effective interview
strategies.

The interview process is an exchange of information between the
interviewer and the candidate. Although both are exchanging information,
their goals although related are quite unique.

In order to become an effective, strategic, and successful interviewee, it is
crucial that you fully understand both your role as an interviewee as well
as what employers expect of interview candidates.

Module Overview
In this module, you will learn how to:

Identify the goals of interview
Prepare for an interview
Identify and respond to different types of interview questions
Maintain proper interview etiquette







1. Introduction to Preparing for Successful Interviews






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Goals and Learning Outcomes
In this module, you will achieve the following:

Understanding the goals of an interview from both the employer's
and candidate's perspective
Recognizing the importance of preparing for your interview and
being able to follow the preparation process
Learning about the three (3) types of interview questions and how to
effectively respond to them
Being familiar with interview etiquette and how to create a good
impression
Knowing what attire to wear to your interview
Knowing what to do after completing a successful interview























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Two Perspectives
The interview process is an exchange of information between the
interviewer and the candidate. Although both are exchanging information,
their goals although related are quite unique.

In order to become an effective, strategic and successful interviewee, it is
imperative that you fully understand both your role as an interviewee as
well as the employer's expectations of interview candidates.

To conduct a successful interview, it's important to understand the
employer's goals and how you as a potential candidate can satisfy those
goals.

Let's begin by examining the purpose of the interview from an employer's
perspective.

For an employer, an interview is used to select and hire the most qualified
and suitable person for the position and the company.

During an interview, the employer is looking for various things.

First is your expertise and competence.

This is done through meeting the person who sent the resume and having
him or her elaborate, clarify, or provide context to the information
presented on his or her resume and also through exploring the
contribution that the candidate has made in the past.

The second thing that employers are looking for during the interview is
your motivation and/or interest in the job.

Employers are interested in determining if there is a possible fit between
what the candidate has to offer and the requirements of the job, such as
skills, experience, and personal attributes.

2. Interview Goals and Objecti ves






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This is one of the most important things an employer looks for in an
interview because they want to ensure that the successful candidate can
not only do the job but actually wants to.

To the employer, hiring someone who is interested in the job and company
is more likely to make a meaningful contribution on the job.

The employer is also looking to compare the candidate with others who
are being interviewed to determine fit for their organization.

Third are interpersonal skills and/or fit.

Employers are also interested in assessing your presentation style and
knowledge of the field for which they are being interviewed.

Last is professional judgment which involves determining the candidate's
ability to think quickly and respond to questions appropriately based on
his/her understanding of the position and organization.

Now let's examine the major purpose of the interview from the candidate's
perspective which is to be successful in the interview and subsequently
receive a job offer.

As the candidate, you want to present yourself in a positive light through
the content of your responses to questions and professional presentation.

This is conveyed through your competence, knowledge, interest, and
professionalism.

You should also articulate what skills, qualifications, and experiences you
have to offer and how these have been developed and used in the past.

This is done through the use of concrete examples.

Lastly, you should convince the employer of the strong fit between your
skills and the qualifications of the position by demonstrating knowledge of
yourself, the position and the organization and how you "fit".







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Through the interview, you also want to decide if the organization is one
you would want to work for or whether or not the position aligns with your
career goals.

You can reach this decision by gathering information and learning about
the job, employer and the organization.

You will need to conduct in depth research on the organization and
position and then demonstrate this during the interview process by
showing what you have to offer is linked to the goals of the position and
the organization.

You will also be able to learn more about the position and organization by
asking pointed questions during the interview which will assist you in
gathering a more comprehensive understanding of the employer's
perspective.

While the objectives of the candidate and the employer may seem
completely different at first glance, taking a closer look shows that they in
fact directly match.

One of the main parallels that exist is that the employer is looking to
assess the candidate's skills and abilities and the candidate is trying to
create a favorable impression by highlighting their skills and abilities as
they relate to the job.

Another similarity is that the employer is trying to assess the candidate's
interest or motivation in the job and the candidate is trying to display their
interest in the job to show the employer that they want it.

Both parties are also trying to determine if there is a fit between the job
and the position and company.












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Focus of Effort
Exercise
The following exercise will test your understanding of where
your effort should be focused during each stage of the
interview process.

Match each interview stage with the appropriate percentage.
1. Preparing Interview a. 10%
2. During Interview b. 50%
3. After Interview c. 40%

During an interview, the employer is seeking information about you.

They also what to know that you respect their time and as such have put
time and effort into preparing for the interview.

Your level of preparation can indicate to the employer that:
you are sincerely interested in the company and the job;
you are aware that the interviewer's time is valuable;
you are not surprised by the type of work the organization expects
from you; and that
you know how to work independently to solve problems and find out
the answers to questions.

Preparation not only helps the employer; it also helps you to present
yourself in a positive light.

Your ability to achieve the above outcomes is dependent on your
understanding of how to prepare.

3. The Importance of Preparation






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Focus 50% of your efforts on preparation, 40% during the interview,
and 10% after the interview or follow-up.

Source: Career Options (Fall 2007), p 2
























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Process Overview
The preparation process consists of five (5) concrete steps.

Step 1 is all about knowing yourself.

It is important to know what you have to offer an employer. In this case, a
self assessment is always encouraged. For more information on this step,
please revisit Module 2.

Step 2 emphasizes knowing the industry and/or organization through
conducting research.

In step 3, you are encouraged to prepare interview questions to ask the
employer based on your research.

In step 4, you must analyze the job posting in order anticipate the
questions you may be asked and prepare your responses to these
questions.

The fifth and final step is to practice your responses.

It is important that you practice your responses to ensure that they are
well-rounded and polished.

Now that you have a general understanding of the key steps in the
preparation process, let's take a more detailed look at each step.









4. The Preparation Process






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Step 1: Know Yourself
As discussed in modules 2 and 3, self knowledge is absolutely crucial
when going for a job interview. Please revisit your previous and current
employment, volunteer work, academic projects, and experiences that
would demonstrate your abilities and competencies.

It is important that you review your goals and strengths as they relate to
the specific job. To assist you in gathering critical information for a job
interview, you must prepare relevant questions. The purpose of these
questions is to help you determine your skills and some examples of
when you have used these skills.

Some of these questions may include the following:
What courses from your academic studies have you excelled in and
why?
What relevant skills were learned in these academic courses that
would support your ability to execute responsibilities on the job
being sought?
What specific projects have you worked on that went well and what
was your personal contribution to these projects? Were they group
or individual projects?
What are some of your strengths and/or qualities?
What type of work situations are you comfortable in?

Having a good grasp of your skills and abilities is one of the first and most
critical steps in the interview preparation process as you will need to
relate these to the job requirements through your responses during the
interview.

Step 2: Know the Industry/Organization
Very few candidates take the time to delve into company research. Some
might wonder if researching a company is really that important.

One of the reasons why doing your research is important is because many
employers will ask you about the research that you did.







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Conducting research about the position and company shows the employer
that you are actually interested in the opportunity. You will stand out as a
self-starter who takes initiative to learn independently.

The knowledge you gain about the company will make you feel more
confident and also make you appear more enthusiastic about the role.

Another advantage to conducting in depth research about the company is
that you will be more prepared to ask well informed questions during the
interview that are guided by your pre-existing knowledge about the
company.

We are living in an information age in which job seekers have access to
more information than ever before. Take advantage of this access to
information.

Below, you will be introduced to a few steps on how to gather and
organize information.

1. Internet Based Search
Enter the name of the company into a search engine (such as Google
or Yahoo) or use the URL to find the website.

Once you've found the company's site, click on links with titles such as
"About Us", "Products", "Services", "Mission", "Vision", and/or
"Organizational Chart".

These sections will give you information about how the company is
organized, what are its products, its goals for the future or how
business within that company is conducted.

Locate the "News", "Press Releases" or "Annual Report" sections if
available to get a sense of some of the past initiatives, new projects on
the horizon or other projected changes.

It's not just a fact finding mission but an opportunity for you to show
how you fit within the context of the organization.







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Browse through blogs, especially business blogs such as "Google
Blogs".

2. Non-Internet Based Research
Review and analyze non-Internet based information such as:
annual reports
corporate brochures
recent press clippings
names of Carleton University alumni (on Linkedin) who have
been or are currently employed by the company
names of students who completed a co-op with that company
community involvement by the company
employee newsletters
recent press releases
professional journals
information sessions
career fairs

You may also contact the organization directly and ask them for
relevant information.

3. Research Products and Services
You should prepare a list of the products and services the company
offers and how the position you are applying for fits with those
products.

Also make note of the target market that the company serves.

4. Research Companys Competitors
Based on your knowledge of the company and its products, search for
information about its competitors and how this company differs from its
competitors.

This will help you compare and contrast the company you're
researching with its competitors.

This is a positive approach as it allows you to think about why it's
advantageous to work at that specific company.






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In fact, companies will often ask questions that require you to know
what makes them distinct from their competitors.

Questions such as:
Why do you want to work for our company? (or)
What makes us unique from other companies offering similar
services?

A list of additional interview questions can be accessed from the
Resources tab in Module 4 (on cuLearn).

You want to make sure that you understand the responses to all these
questions prior to your interview.

After completing your thorough research, if there are remaining
questions for which you could not find responses, you may ask some of
these questions during your interview.

Gather as much information as possible about the company.

You can find information through:
the company website or company profiles
recruiting brochures
annual reports
articles, business publications, newspapers, professional journals
attending information sessions sponsored by various firms
attending career fairs and approaching people who work in that
field

Step 3: Prepare Questions
From your research on the company, you can now process what
questions you would like to ask the employer.

These questions can help you:
determine whether or not you want to work for the organization
show familiarity with the company and your technical area






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affirm your technical knowledge and how your expertise will help
showcase that you understand the scope of the job
demonstrate your enthusiasm
When getting ready for your interview, make sure you prepare two (2) to
three (3) good questions for the interviewer that reflect your interest.

It does not hurt to have extra questions prepared in case the interviewer
answers some of them during the interview.

Below are a few examples of questions that can be asked during the
interview and some questions that should be avoided.

Bad Questions Good Questions

How many sick days can I claim
as a new employee?

How much will I be paid?

Based on these questions, the
employer would assume that the
candidate is more interested in the
perks of the job rather than the job
itself and that the candidate may
not be a good employee for the
company.

Questions like these can give the
wrong impression about you to an
employer.

While these are important
questions, save them until you are
offered the job.

Tell me how this position fits
in with other jobs.

How would you describe the
working environment?

What characteristics of this
company are attractive or
unique?

The employer would find the
candidate's questions to be
thoughtful.

The candidate seems to have
done their research and seems
legitimately interested in the
position.








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Step 4: Anticipate Questions
The next stage of the interview preparation process is to analyze the job
description to match your skills and anticipate questions you will be asked.

Analyzing the job description to match your skills was already discussed in
modules 2 and 3 but it is worth revisiting here in the context of interview
preparation.

Since the job description is the window into what the employer is
expecting from a successful candidate, it is important to learn how to
analyze a job description as part of your preparation.

There are four (4) steps to follow when preparing for what you will be
asked during the interview.

1

Print the job description and highlight key words.

This will allow you to identify the critical skills needed
for the position and match your skills and
qualifications to what the company is seeking.

2

Based on your analysis, write down the key skills,
responsibilities, experiences, and personal
attributes listed on the job description.

3

Develop interview questions that target each of
the skills, responsibilities, experiences and
personal attributes you have previousl y identified.






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4

Highlight examples from your current and past
experiences that correspond to what's requested.

Develop your examples with specificity.

Matching Skills

Verify how your skills match the skills and qualifications that the company
is seeking. Look to answer questions like:

What are the specific duties for the position?
What are the critical tasks and key result areas of the position?
What behaviors, skills, knowledge and experience (e.g.
education, prior experience, personal qualities). These
requirements are often presented in order of relevance to the
position and therefore you should present your skills in order of
relevance.
What is the mix between technical skills (e.g. programming or lab
skills) and soft skills (e.g. teamwork skills, communication skills)?







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Step 4: Example



In order to organize all the information, it is recommended that you create
a preparation sheet.

The first column provides a space to list the requirement found in the
job posting.

The second column allows you to write the skills that would be required
to perform the requirement listed in column 1.

The third column is where you will create a sample question related to
the requirement.

Finally, the fourth column is where you will be able to describe an
experience or qualification and use a concrete example to illustrate how
they match the requirement.

This exercise will also help you to prepare for behavioral-based interview
questions which will be discussed in subsequent slides. Additional
examples can be found in the Interview Preparation Sheet under the
Resources tab in Module 4 (on cuLearn).









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Step 5: Practice Responses
In order to respond to interview questions, there needs to be a framework.
This framework lends itself nicely to other kinds of questions but it is
specifically designed for questions that ask you to think about examples
from your past experience.

You will want to incorporate this structure in the concrete example column
of the preparation sheet.

The framework that we will use to answer behavioral based questions is
called STAR or STAR-D.

Situation
Detail the background and content. Where?
When?
Task
Be sure to describe the challenge and
expectations. What needed to be done? Why?
Action
Elaborate your specific task or action. What did
you do? How did you do it? What tools did you
use?
Result
Explain the results of your action. Describe
your accomplishments, recognition, savings, or
any other outcomes that resulted from what
you did.
Difference
If you didn't get the desired result, explain what
you learned from the experience and how you
would do things differently in the future.

Although discussing the situation and task are important in your
explanation as they provide context, sometimes interviewees spend too
much time on these points and focus less on the remaining components.

The most important aspects of your answer are the actions you took and
the result that came from your actions.

To better understand, let's take a look at a related scenario to this step.







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Scenario: Practice Responses
In this scenario, you will learn how responses to interview questions come
together using the STAR technique.

Below are a few Q&As structured using the STAR method.

Question 1

Question:
Give me an example of a time when you creatively solved a problem.

Response:

S When I was the volunteer and newsletter coordinator at my
community centre, I had a problem that required immediate
resolution in a creative way.

One of our issues was ready to go to print when a few of our
newest advertisers decided to pull an ad.

T I had to determine how to fill the extra space but also ensure
there was enough revenue to maintain profitability.

We were also on a tight deadline as the printers required the
final draft within 48 hours.
A So I compiled a list of local businesses in the area and
organized a team meeting with all the volunteer newsletter
staff.

We made phone calls and offered advertising space for a
25% discount rate which was enough for us to break-even
on those ads.

R So as a result, all the extra spaces were filled with new ads,
the draft was sent to the printers by the deadline date, and
the newspaper still made a profit.









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Question 2

Question:
Describe a time when you had to use your written and oral
communication skills to present information to an audience.

Response:

S In my role as a peer helper at Carleton University, I was
asked to write articles for a monthly newspaper in order to
inform students about time specific issues about living off
campus.

T Some topics included things to consider before signing a
lease, when you should submit your notice when moving
out, how to seek support if you're facing an issue with your
landlord.

A In writing the articles, I conducted extensive research and
then planned each article in order to present the information
in a clear and concise manner.

R The newsletter was then emailed to all the students on the
mailing list and I received many follow up questions and
comments from students describing how the articles were
helpful.

T In this role, I also conducted many presentations for first-
year students which were meant to educate them about how
to begin apartment hunting.
A I developed my oral communication skills by facilitating five
(5) presentations to groups of students ranging from 10 to
50.
R When I look back on the feedback that I received on the
presentation, most of the students found the presentation to
be informative and engaging.










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Question 3

Question:
Providing an example, describe when you have taken on a leadership
role.

Response:

S I began working at Carleton University as an on-campus
mentor.

After working, for about a year, with first-year students to
help them in their transition into university life, I was
promoted to the role of team leader.

T In this role, I led a subcommittee of five (5) other mentors to
help brainstorm ways to engage our mentees, increase
event attendance, and support them better in their transition
into university life.

A In order to do this, I facilitated brainstorming sessions that
would allow every member of the subcommittee to
contribute.

Some of the strategies I used to make sure that everyone
was included was to make sure that I sent out regular
agendas for each of the meetings.

This way, the committee members that were maybe a little
bit more shy could have time in advance to prepare for the
brainstorming session.

I was also able to effectively delegate the tasks that needed
to be done by the volunteers and ensure that roles were
distributed evenly by all members and everyone was
comfortable with their role.

R Overall, I learned a lot about how to effectively lead a group
of my peers and I received positive feedback from the
committee members in a performance review.







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Identifying Interview Questions

Exercise
The following exercise will test your knowledge and
understanding of the different types of interview questions.

Match each category of questions with the appropriate
description.

1. Behavioral
Based Questions
a. Require you to think through a
hypothetical situation
2. Situational
Questions
b. Related to your skills, competencies,
experiences, knowledge, and interest
3. Informational
Questions
c. Require you to discuss examples from
your evaluation


When anticipating the interview questions that you may face based on the
requirements for the position, it is also useful to consider the different
types of questions that are usually asked during a typical interview.

There are three (3) main types of interview questions:

First are behavioral based questions.

These questions require you to discuss examples from your experiences.
They are usually the most difficult questions to answer.

Second are situational questions.

These questions require you to think through a hypothetical situation and
display your thought process.

5. Interview Questions






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Third are informational questions.

These are questions related to your skills, competencies, experiences,
attributes, knowledge and interest.

Behavioral Based Questions
Behavioral based questions are centered on the premise that the best
way to predict a person's future behavior is to ask about his or her past
behavior.

Behavioral interview questions are said to be about 55% predictive of
future-on-the-job behavior. This is due to the fact that it is very difficult to
give answers that are not true to your character; therefore, there is more
accountability. The question is not how might you handle this situation but
how you have actually handled something in the past.

It is common for employers to ask follow-up questions based on your
answer.

While creating a preparation sheet, like the example shown earlier, is
extremely helpful when preparing for interviews, it is impossible to predict
every question that you may be asked.

Therefore, it is recommended that you prepare a few different examples
that you can use to answer the variety of questions that you may face.

Many behavioral-based interviews start with:
"Tell me about a time when you..." (or)
"Describe the last time that you had to..." (or)
"Give us an example of a time when you..."

Therefore, when you're asked a question that starts in a similar way,
you're likely dealing with a behavioral based question.

Furthermore, when responding to these types of questions, you should
use the STAR format as discussed previously.








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Identifyi ng Behavi oral Based Questions
Exercise
The following exercise will test your ability to identify
behavioral based questions.

Select TWO examples that best represent behavioral based
questions.
a. What do you think are the main or most important attributes for
success?
b. Describe a time or any job that you held in which you were faced
with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
c. How would you deal with a co-worker at work with whom you have
been unable to build a successful working rapport?
d. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good
judgment and logic in solving a problem.

Regarding the exercise, here are some more examples of behavioral
based questions:

Providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide
variety of people, situations and environments.
Describe a time on any job that you held in which you were faced
with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
Give me an example of an important goal which you had set in the
past and tell me about your success in reaching it.
Give me a specific example of a time when you used good
judgement and logic in solving a problem.

A more comprehensive list of behavioral based questions can be found
under the Resources tab in Module 4 (on cuLearn).












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Situational Questions
The second type of interview questions is the situational question.

The aim of these questions is to see how you would handle a hypothetical
situation, to assess your critical thinking skills, and to evaluate your ability
to make ethical decisions.

So how do you respond to these questions?

Since these questions allow you to demonstrate how you would go about
solving problems and think through challenging situations, it is important
to take the interviewer through your thought process in an organized way
and to explain how you would come to a decision in a given context.

What makes these questions challenging is that it is hard to anticipate the
specific questions you will be asked and there is not always one right or
one wrong answer to the question.

However, that does not mean that you cant prepare for them since
answering sample questions will allow you to practice structuring your
responses.

Examining Situational Questions
Here are some sample situational interview questions:

How would you respond when someone has lost his or her temper
in a business environment?
How would you deal with a colleague at work with whom you seem
to be unable to build a successful working relationship with?
If a co-worker was not completing their work and the team was
falling behind on a project, what would you do?
If you were asked to complete projects from multiple supervisors at
conflicting time periods, how would you handle this?

Notice that these questions ask how you would handle something, or
what you would do in a certain context.







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These questions differ from behavioral based questions because you are
describing what you would do as opposed to what you have done in the
past.

If you are asked a situational question that you happen to have an
example from a previous experience for, you can always use the example
in a STAR format and mention how your previous experience informs
your decision and what you learned from this experience that you can
bring to the new situation.

Examine Question

If a co-worker was not completing their work and the team was
falling behind on a project, what would you do?

There could be a variety of reasons why someone is not completing their work
and so the first thing I would do is talk with my co-worker to see what is going
on.

The issue could be that they have too much on their plate and need more
support in order to complete all the work that has been assigned to them.

If this is the case, then it would be important for me to help them in any way I
can since it is a team project.

Another reason could be that they are going through a personal issue which is
affecting their work.

In this case, I would want to be sensitive to the issue and try and support them
through it, helping them as much as I can with their component of the project.

It could also be the case that they are just unmotivated and he or she doesnt
want to do the work, in which case I would want to still talk it through with
them.

However, if I was unable to resolve the issue, I would need to speak with an
immediate supervisor about the problem to receive extra support and ensure
that the project does not fall behind schedule.







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Informational Questions
The last type of interview question is the informational question.

Informational questions allow the employer to assess skills, abilities,
knowledge, interest and suitability and are typically asked near the
beginning of the interview.

The interviewer is trying to get to know you and what makes you different
from other candidates.

So how do you respond to these questions?

You are going to want to describe your skills, abilities, experience,
accomplishments, and characteristics and how they relate to the
particular job.

Show your personality and your unique profile.

This is what sets you apart as a unique individual.

Lets take a look at a few popular examples of informational questions.

Tell Me About Yourself
One of the most common questions that you may be asked is "tell me a
little about yourself".

Many individuals are challenged by this question. Although it is an open-
ended question, its not an invitation to talk about anything you want since
your response should still be structured. The more you practice this
question, the smoother it will go during the interview.

The employer wants a 2-3 minute snapshot of how you have been
preparing for this job and what you can offer.

They want to know that what you have been doing in the past lends itself
in some meaningful way to the role being sought.







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If the employer is asking you to tell him or her about your professional
self:

Dont launch into a personal history telling them where you were born or
how many brothers and sisters you have as this is not relevant to the job.

Do, however, speak about yourself as it relates to the position and use
concrete example to support your case

Some common points to include are:
Your educational background
How you became interested in your field
What skills you bring to the table
Why you would be a good fit for the organization
Relevant skills that you would bring to the employer

However, you should include only 2-3 of these in your answer to keep it
concise.

It is often useful to structure your response by starting with the past (for
example, what got you interested in your field or why you chose your
major), then move into the present (such as how your studies and/or
experiences have shaped your interest in the area and how you have
developed skills that the employer is looking for), and then talk a little bit
about the future (for example, why you are interested in working for the
employer).

Below are examples of a good and bad response to this question.















MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

29

Bad Response Good Response

I am currently a Bachelor of
Commerce student in my second
year at Carleton University.

I love basketball and play for the
varsity team while still balancing
my studies.

Some of my skills include
communication, attention to detail
and organization.

My hobbies would include
basketball, skiing, and reading.

I am from Ottawa and would love
the opportunity to stay here after
graduation and work for your
company.

Feedback: In this response, the
candidate does mention some
useful things such as some skills
and their studies.

However, they also spend too
much time discussing their
hobbies which are unrelated to
the job.

After becoming interested in
accounting in high school, I
decided to attend Carleton
University and enroll in the
Bachelor of Commerce program.

I picked the Co-op option
because it would allow me to
apply the skills learned in class to
a real work setting and also
would help me to enhance my
learning.

Through my courses, I have
developed my knowledge and
ability to use accounting software
by completing various
assignments and assessments.

I have also strengthened my
written and oral communication
skills by writing reports and
delivering presentations.

I am very interested in working
with your company as the
experience will allow me to learn
more about bankruptcy accounting
and I know my experience and
skills will allow me to effectively
contribute to the company.










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30


Tell Me About Your Weakness
Tell me about your professional weakness.

This is another common question that you will likely face.

It is very important to select an actual weakness to discuss as this shows
self-awareness.

Therefore, dont choose a weakness that doubles as faint praise such as:
I push myself too hard or I am a perfectionist.

The weakness you choose should also not be one of the requirements of
the position because this would severely hurt your chances of securing
the position.

What is being asked goes beyond simply naming a fault.

It also shows the employer:

What level of insight does the candidate have into his or her
professional assets and liabilities?
Can this candidate admit imperfection and take responsibility for a
less-than-peak performance, without shifting the blame to external
factors or the employer?
Will the candidate blurt out a fatal flaw that would disqualify him or
her as a candidate?
Does this candidate take the initiative to improve?

Regardless of the weakness that you choose, it is crucial for you to
discuss the actions that you have taken in order to ensure that your
weakness does not interfere with your work performance.

This is arguably the most important component of your answer.

Below is an example of an effective answer to this question.







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31

Response

Probably my biggest challenge is presenting in front of a large group
of people.

In the past, Ive had some difficulty presenting my ideas in a clear
way.

In the last 6 months, I was volunteering for a not-for-profit youth
organization. In this role, Ive had to chair meetings and deliver
presentations on the outcomes of funding proposals.

This has helped me to practice delivering a short presentation on just
a few topics.

In addition, this year, I joined Toastmasters and am currently working
on developing my 10 speech.

Through the feedback Ive received from my previous speeches, I feel
more confident about public speaking.

This is still an area that has room for improvement, but I'm confident
over time that I will continue to improve and get better.

Feedback: While this is an effective answer, you would not use this
example if one of the key responsibilities of the role was to deliver
presentations.

Additional Informational Questions
Here are some additional informational questions:

What interests you about this type of work?
What do you know about our company?
How do you see yourself helping this organization?
What are your greatest strengths and greatest challenges?






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

32

What skills/qualifications do you have that are applicable to this kind
of work?
Tell me how your academic training would apply to this position.

For a more comprehensive list of questions and guidelines for
responding, please visit the Resources tab in Module 4 (on cuLearn).

Be sure to review these questions and practice developing responses
before the pressure for an interview begins to loom.



































MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

33



With what we've learned regarding the preparation process and the types
of interview questions, let's now put our knowledge to the test by
responding to a few exercise questions.

QUESTION 1
When answering behavioral interview questions, it is
recommended that you use the STAR format to structure your
responses. While all the components are needed in the response,
which 2 parts are the most important?
a. Situation
b. Task
c. Action
d. Result

QUESTION 2
Researching is a key part of the preparation process. Which of
the following are reasons why you should thoroughl y research
the company and position?
a. To determine if there will be a good fit between you and the
organization
b. To create a list of appropriate questions to ask during the
interview
c. To make a good impression during the interview by display
initiative and interest in the position/company
d. To be able to answer the what do we do here? interview
question




6. Exercise Revi ew






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

34



Attitude
In addition to assessing your suitability for the job (such as how your skills,
experience, interests, and abilities make you qualified for the position), the
employer is also interested in your professional image.

It is important to remember that you are being evaluated for the role as
soon as you enter the office.

Here are a few tips to consider when presenting yourself at an interview.

You must remember to show respect for an employer's time.

This includes arriving on time as well as taking the time to respond to
questions well and show that you have done the work.

The interview also requires listening skills which involve paying attention
to what's being asked and providing an answer.

If you are unsure of what has been asked, then make sure you clarify
before attempting to answer the questions.

Furthermore, note an interviewer's nonverbals or ask him or her if you
have answered what they are looking for.

In regards to confidence versus arrogance, you want to showcase your
skills and display your confidence in them.

You don't want to make it seem like you're bragging or think you have
nothing to learn.

Finally, there is your ability to adapt to questions.

You may be asked questions that require you to describe how you have
adapted to situations in the past or others that require you to adapt on the
spot to answer a question that is asked.
7. Presentation & Etiquette






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35

Body Language
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication consisting of
poise, gestures, eye movements, tone of voice, and rate of speech.

Non-verbal communication (which includes body language) comprises
about 93% of communication while words themselves only make up 7% of
how we communicate.

In an interview as with other forms of communication and interaction,
actions do speak louder than words.

The content of your responses is important; however, you also need to
concentrate on the non-verbal aspects of communication (such as the
face, body movements, and appearance).

These non-verbal cues are paramount to complete the message that you
send during the interview process.

Creating a good first impression requires that you pay attention to your
verbal and non-verbal communication, attitude, and image.

Non-Verbal Communication







MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

36


A CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,500 hiring managers conducted
between May 18 and J une 3, 2010 revealed that 67% of employers
indicated that failure to make eye contact would make them less likely to
hire a candidate.

The results also showed that 38% were less likely to hire someone if they
were lacking a smile and 33% listed fidgeting too much would make them
less likely to hire someone.

As seen on the chart above, when asked overall what additional body
language mistakes would make them less likely to hire job candidates,
hiring managers reported the following:

Bad posture - 33 percent
A handshake that is too weak - 26 percent
Crossing arms over their chest - 21 percent
Playing with one's hair or touching one's face - 21 percent
Using too many hand gestures - 9 percent

Body Language Dos and Donts
Overview
In a highly competitive job market, job seekers need to set themselves
apart in the interview stage.

To avoid these faux pas, and ensure that you're remembered for the right
reasons, try practicing ahead of time in front of a mirror or family and
friends.

In the table below, you will be presented with body language tips on how
to best present yourself at an interview.











MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

37

Handshake
Do give a firm handshake.
Say something like, "I'm pleased to meet you."
Eye Contact
Be sure to maintain good eye contact, slightly lean toward
the speaker, watch for cues from the interviewer (such as
prompts for elaboration, verbal acknowledgements,
attentive silences, and pace of note taking).

Eye contact conveys respect and interest.

In the U.S., maintaining eye contact for 60% of the time is
ideal.

Try to focus on the upper triangle of the face from the left
eyebrow across the bridge of the nose to the right eyebrow.

Furthermore, avoid staring at the other person's forehead,
lips and mouth.
Smile
Smiling creates a sense of pleasant, openness.

Remember employers are evaluating whether or not they
can work with you.

Make sure you keep smiling throughout the interview even
if you do not think it is going well or if the interviewer keeps
a neutral expression.
Additional
Tips
Keep calm - To make the best impression and avoid
nervous body language, take measures to stay as calm as
possible before the interview.

Leave the house with plenty of time to get to the interview,
avoid caffeine if possible and take deep, calming breaths.

Practice makes perfect - Rehearse ahead of time with
friends or family. You'll feel more comfortable the more you
prepare for the interview, and in turn, it will help decrease
your anxiety.

See for yourself - Viewing yourself while speaking can






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

38

help you notice what body language mistakes you might be
making without realizing.

Look in a mirror while practicing interview responses or
videotape yourself to figure out your typical physical
movements, and whether or not you need to change them.

The more energy you have, the more will need to be
vented.

This often results in mannerisms referred to as "adapters."

What this means is that excess energy gets dissipated into
fidgeting, a definite sign that you're nervous or ill at ease.

Try not to touch your face, throat, mouth, or ears during an
interview.

The interviewer may think that you're holding something
back, typically, the truth.

Although this is a false assumption, to try to establish
credibility, it's necessary to avoid touching your face.

What to do with those hands and arms.

Clasped hands are a signal that you are closed off.

A palm-to-palm gesture with one thumb over the other
thumb sends the signal that you need the interviewer's
reassurance.

To come across as confident, receptive and unguarded,
have your hands open and relaxed on the table.

When your body is open, you project trustworthiness.

Avoid crossing your arms over your chest.

When you do, you signal that you are close-minded,
defensive, or bored and disinterested.






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

39


Crossing your legs.

Don't cross your legs.

This posture can create a wall between you and your
interviewer.

It can also become a distraction when you keep crossing
your legs back and forth.

Crossed ankles are a "no-no" because you are signaling
that you want to be elsewhere.

A straight posture is imperative during an interview.

Pull your shoulders back and sit up straight.

You'll give yourself a burst of confidence and allow for good
breathing.

This can help you to avoid, or at least reduce, feelings of
nervousness and discomfort.

Finger gestures.

It is suggested that steepling your fingers makes you look
arrogant.

Never point your index fingers.

These are the types of aggressive messages you want to
avoid sending.














MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

40

What to Wear
Dressing for Success
Appropriate attire supports your image as a person who takes the
interview process seriously, values the employers time and understands
the professional culture of the industry you are targeting.

Some industries are quite formal and an understanding of appropriate
dress is vital as this is an indication that you understand the rules of
professional attire for that sector.

There are also industries in which employees tend to be more casual.

Although you may be aware of this practice, always dress formally for the
interview.

You are not yet a current employee and therefore you need to be more
formal even though your interviewers might be dressed rather informally.

Consider this the rule unless you are specifically told otherwise by the
employer. Its best to err on the side of caution and be too formal rather
than being too informal.

Now lets take a look at what to wear for your interview.

Below are male and female attire requirements for an interview.



















MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

41

Interview Attire for Women

Suit
A two piece matched suit is always the best and safest
choice.

You dont need to buy an expensive suit but it should fit
well, be simple, classic and basic.

Always go for a suit thats not too trendy, can transition with
you after leaving university, and can be worn year round.

Suitable colors for the outfit can be black, dark brown, dark
grey or blue.

If you are going with a patterned suit, please ensure that its
a subtle weave pattern (for example, the pattern appears to
be solid from across a room).

If your suit is basic, you can create a variety of interview
outfits using different blouses, shoes and accessories.

Under your suit, wear simple coloured blouses (such as
white, grey, light blue or tan).

Remember to keep them basic.

If you dont have a suit, dress pants or a dress skirt should
suffice.

If you opt to wear pants or a skirt, it must be paired with a
dress blouse.






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

42

Shoes
Shoes should be clean, polished, and conservative.

Also ensure that your heels are not worn.

In the winter, either wear a shoe cover to keep your shoes
clean or have a separate pair of shoes that you wear
outdoors and change into your professional, clean shoes
indoors.

Do not wear dirty salt stained shoes to an interview.

Shoes can be leather or fabric.

Closed toed pumps are preferable.

Choose closed-toe shoes with a reasonable heel height
that are easy to walk in.

Try to avoid wearing stilettos or clunky platforms.
Hair
Hair should be neat and well groomed.

If you have longer hair, consider pulling it away from the
face with a hair accessory to ensure that you are not
playing with your hair during the interview.
Nails Nails should be clean and well groomed.






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

43

Cosmetics
Keep make-up light and avoid extreme eye and lip colors.

If you wear make-up go for neutral colors that are not
distracting (such as a bright red lip or multi coloured eye
shadow).

You are going for a clean polished look.

Your nail color should not be too extreme.

Keep it clean and neutral.
Scents/
Personal
Hygiene
Perfumes should be used sparingly if at all.

For most interviews you will be in a very small space.

Any smell can be too overwhelming for your interviewer,
particularly those sensitive to smells.

When possible, avoid perfumes and be scent free.

This includes the smell of smoke.

Avoid smoking in your interview attire.

Also ensure that you have proper personal hygiene (for
example, wearing an antiperspirant).

An interview is a high stress situation and you might sweat
more than you otherwise would so its recommended that
you wear a little extra deodorant or antiperspirant.
Book bags,
coats, boots
If an interview is held on campus, there is a small area in
1400 CTTC office (which is where most co-op interviews
are held) where you may leave your larger items such as
book bags, coats, and boots.






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

44

Hosiery
Your hosiery should have a plain design with no extreme
patterns (such as fishnets) and the color should be neutral
and complement your suit.

Avoid stark contrasts between your suit and hosiery.
Purses If you carry a purse, keep it small and simple.
Skirt Lengths
Your skirt should cover your thighs when you are seated
and should end at the knee when you're standing.

To test the length of your skirt, have a seat in the skirt and
face the mirror.

This is the interviewers perspective.

Make sure that your skirt does not have high slits well up
your thigh.

A small back, center slit in a knee-length skirt is
appropriate.
Shirts/
Sweaters
Under your suit jacket, wear a tailored blouse in a
conservative color or small print that coordinates nicely with
your suit.

In some cases, it might be necessary to wear a camisole.

Be sure not to show any cleavage.
Jewellery/
Accessories
Wear a conservative watch and pair of earrings.
Keep your choices simple and lean toward conservative
sizes, styles and colors.











MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

45

Interview Attire for Men

Suit
A two piece matched suit is always the best and safest
choice.

You dont need to buy an expensive suit but it should fit
well, be simple, classic and basic.

Also go for a suit thats not too trendy, can transition with
you after leaving university, and can be worn year round.

Suitable colors for an outfit can be black, dark brown, dark
grey or blue.

If you are going with a patterned suit, please ensure that its
a subtle weave pattern (for example, the pattern appears
to be solid from across a room).

A good quality suit is sufficient for a job search if that is all
your budget allows.

If your suit is basic, you can create a variety of interview
outfits using different shirts, ties, shoes and accessories.

Under your suit, wear simple coloured shirts (such as white,
grey, light blue or tan).

Remember to keep them basic.

If you dont have a suit, dress pants should suffice.

If you opt to wear pants, they must be paired with a dress
shirt and tie.






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

46

Shoes
Shoes should be clean, polished, and conservative.

In the winter, either wear a shoe cover to keep your shoes
clean or have a separate pair of shoes that you wear
outdoors and change into your professional, clean shoes
indoors.

Do not wear dirty salt stained shoes to an interview.

Wear leather lace-up or slip-on business shoes in either
black or a shade of brown.

Invest in a good pair that you can use for other occasions
and job interviews in future years.
Hair
Hair should be neat and well groomed.

If you have longer hair, consider pulling it away from the
face with a hair accessory to ensure that you are not
playing with your hair during the interview.
Nails Nails should be clean and well groomed.
Facial Hair If you have facial hair, ensure that it is well-groomed.






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

47

Scents/
Personal
Hygiene
Colognes should be used sparingly if at all.

For most interviews you will be in a very small space.

Any smell can be too overwhelming for your interviewer,
particularly those sensitive to smells.

When possible, avoid colognes and be scent free.

This includes the smell of smoke.

Avoid smoking in your interview attire.

Also ensure that you have proper personal hygiene (for
example, wearing an antiperspirant).

An interview is a high stress situation and you might sweat
more than you otherwise would so its recommended that
you wear a little extra deodorant or antiperspirant.
Book bags,
coats, boots
If an interview is held on campus, there is a small area in
1400 CTTC office (which is where most co-op interviews
are held) where you may leave your larger items such as
book bags, coats, and boots.
Ties
Try to have a few ties so that you can change your look for
different interviews.

Invest in a few good quality silk ties that will withstand the
test of style trends and time.

Keep your patterns basic and avoid character ties (such as
Santa Claus and Homer Simpson).

If you plan on wearing a tie, please make sure that you
know how to tie one.

Instructional videos are available online.






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

48

Shirts
Long-sleeved shirts should always be worn - even in
summer.

As noted earlier, choose subtle colors or conservative
stripes that would appear solid across a room.
Socks
Invest in a few pairs of dark socks that compliment the color
of your suit.

Do not wear white socks with your suit.

As a general rule, when wearing dress pants, your sock
color should be dictated by the color of your pants and not
by the shade of your shoes.

Please ensure that your socks are mid calf, so no skin is
visible when you sit down.
Belts
Wear a belt that's either black or a shade of brown.

It is typically recommended that your belt matches your
shoes.
Jewellery

Wear a conservative watch.

If you choose to wear other jewellery, ensure that they are
conservative and not distracting from what you are saying
in an interview.

It is sometimes recommended that you remove earrings but
the choice is yours.

Interview Etiquette
Interviews are one of the most stressful events you can go through and
most employers will be mindful of this.
However, they still have expectations that are not negotiable.







MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

49


Exercise
The following exercise will test your practical
knowledge of interview etiquette.

If an interview was scheduled for 11:00 am,
what time do you think you should arrive
for your interview?

Based on the exercise, you will want to arrive at the interview location 10-
15 minutes early so that you can adjust to your surroundings and mentally
prepare for the interview.

Make sure you know exactly where you are going in advance.

Showing up late for an Interview does not make a good first impression.

If you haven't been to the interview office before, try going there once
before the interview.



Make sure you know the facts, including:
The location of your interview
The date and time of your interview
The name of the interviewer (which is not always possible but where
possible, do access this information)
Making special arrangements such as bringing a sample of your
work or written tests

Here are some things you should bring to the interview:
Make sure you take multiple copies of your resume and be prepared
to discuss it.
Bring a list of references. For information on how to structure a
references page, click on the "guideline" button.
Have samples of relevant work if you have them; for example, a
portfolio in disciplines such as architecture and industrial design.






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

50

Bring with you a writing pad and pen.

The interview starts as soon as you arrive at the office.

Be polite to everyone.

Also make sure that you turn off your cell phone and other electronic
devices before entering the building.

Never bad mouth a former job under any circumstances. You might be
100 percent correct, but saying you didn't like a job is too close to saying
the job didn't like you.

The interviewer wants the interview to go well but don't be lulled into
thinking that they are your new best friend.

They may say, I like taking off early on Fridays to hit the beach.
However, do not respond Yeah I like ducking out early too.

Furthermore, never lie or stretch the truth. Stay away from jokes
altogether. A controversial joke will end your chances at a job.

Pay attention to visual cues.

If you are answering an interview question and the interviewer has put
down his or her pen and is glancing at the clock, these are cues that you
are missing the mark.

If this is the case, it is worthwhile to ask the interviewer if you had
answered his or her question or to ask for clarification.

Additional Interview Tips on Etiquette
Keep a record of your interviews by writing down the questions that you
were asked and what your responses were.

You will be able to be better prepared for future interviews should you
need one.

Thank them in person and follow-up with a thank you note.






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

51


Either a card or an email is acceptable.

For more information on how to write and send a thank you note to an
interviewer, please visit the Resources tab in Module 4 (on cuLearn).

If you dont get the position, ask for feedback.

This can also be very helpful in preparing for future interviews as it gives
you a good idea of what to work on.












After a Successful Interview
So what happens after you have been successful in the interview
process?

The Co-op Offices process for finding out about and accepting an
employment offer is as follows:

The employer notifies the Co-op Office of the successful candidate.
If you are the successful candidate, you will then receive an e-mail
from the Co-op Office with a job offer.
The Co-op Office needs to be informed about whether or not you
will accept the job within 48 hours of receiving the e-mail offer.
8. Conclusion






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

52

Given these tight time frames, while you are seeking work, you must
check your connect e-mail account very often.
The employer is then informed by the Co-op Office of your decision.
If you accept the offer, the employer sends you an offer letter or
contract formally offering the position and giving details of the start
date, salary, and where to report on your first day.
The placement is confirmed when you are e-mailed a work term
letter. For information on the work term letter guidelines, please
view the table below.

It is important to remember that once an employment offer has been
accepted, you will have no further interviews in the current placement
round. For further information about co-op regulations, please visit the
following link: http://www5.carleton.ca/cc/co-operative-education/

Be sure to check your Carleton email regularly for updates and
reminders. If you are on a placement, please ensure that you continue to
check your e-mail or forward your e-mail to an account that you check
regularly.











MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

53

Work Term Letter Guidelines

Please ensure you complete the following:

Provide the Co-op Office with a copy of your offer letter by email.
Check your Carleton email account regularly for updates and reminders
while on your work term.
Submit your Work Term Report on or before (the submission date).

Please Note:

You will automatically be registered in the appropriate work term course at
the beginning of the semester. This will trigger the application of the $390
work term fee to your student account which you are responsible for
paying.
For Students on an 8, 12 or 16 month work term: if you are working in the
Fall semester you are NOT covered under the CUSA Health plan at any
point during the school year. Those who wish to opt into the plan must visit
the CUSA office, 401 Unicentre Building, by early-October.
Communication with the Awards Office with regard to the status of your
scholarship or OSAP while participating in the co-operative education program
is your responsibility.

Remember
Being successful in an interview is a skill that takes time to develop.

To help you develop this skill further, mock interviews are available at
Career Services.

There is also a wealth of resources under the Resources tab for this
module (on cuLearn).





Conclusion






MODULE 3: PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS

54

Summary
Conducting in depth research
Convincing the employer of fit
Articulating skills qualifications and experiences
Presenting yourself in a positive light
Learning about the position and organization
Deciding if the organization is a good fit.

With the completion of this module, you may now commence the Module 4
Quiz via cuLearn.

As a reminder, you must receive a grade 70% or higher to receive a SAT
on each quiz. A SAT on all assignments and quizzes is required to obtain
a SAT in COOP1000.