An interview is an opportunity to showcase your skills and accomplishments, and show the employer you are the best candidate for the job or internship. Explain why you want to work there, why they should hire you and that you possess the personal qualities they need (motivation, drive, strengths, etc.).
Preparing for an interview is critical to success. Match your strengths and skills with the specific position, showcasing your skills with specific examples. Prepare thoughtful questions to ask the employer during the interview, and practice, practice, practice!
Before the interview
Employers expect you to know about the organization and understand the position you’re interviewing for. Thorough research allows you to understand the organization’s needs so you can market yourself. It also helps you answer the critical question of why you would like to work for that employer and helps you formulate intelligent and appropriate questions to ask in your interview.
HERE ARE WAYS FOR YOU TO RESEARCH SPECIFIC EMPLOYERS:
- Talk to people: Find people who work for or know about the organization. This could be people you meet at a Career Fair, family members, neighbors, parents of friends, students who graduated ahead of you, and alumni contacts
- Visit the employer’s website: This is a no-brainer! Look for basic facts, information about mission, culture, values and more
Google Them! Conduct internet research, gauging the credibility of the sources
- Call or write the organization and ask for information, but only AFTER you’ve searched for it elsewhere without success. This is perfectly appropriate to do if you simply cannot find information about the organization through their website, or if the information is not clear. Be careful: If you e-mail with a question to which you could have found the answer online with a little effort, you’ll be perceived negatively as a potential employee (lazy, unintelligent, etc.). As a potential employee, you want to be perceived as a person who does work, not creates more for someone else
- Match your strengths and skills with the specific position
- Showcase your skills with specific examples of your accomplishments
- Prepare thoughtful questions to ask the employer during the interview. Commonly, you have the opportunity to ask the employer questions at the end of an interview. To show you interest in the position and company, thoughtful questions are worthwhile. Consider how you can learn more about the company and position or selection process that isn’t available elsewhere. Here are a few ideas:
- How did this position become available?
- What would you like done differently by the next person who fills this position?
- What are some of the greater challenges an individual has to face in this position?
- What orientation/training is offered to new employees?
- What are the opportunities for advancement in this position and this organization?
- What opportunities exist for professional growth and development?
- What are short/long term needs of this department/organization?
- Why do you like working for in this department/this organization?
- What opportunities exist to collaborate with individuals from other departments/offices, or to share ideas?
- What is your timeline for making a hiring decision?
- Practice, practice, practice with mock interviews
During the interview
First impressions are critical. How you present yourself plays a big part in determining employer interest.
FORMAL BUSINESS ATTIRE (FOR INTERVIEWS AND CAREER FAIRS)
- Wear a solid colored, conservative suit with a coordinated blouse or collared shirt in a subtle or neutral color
- Wear neutral toned closed-toed shoes
- Carry a portfolio or briefcase with you with copies of your resume
- Keep jewelry and perfume/colognes to a minimum
- A tie is recommended
BUSINESS CASUAL (FOR LESS FORMAL NETWORKING EVENTS)
- Wear neatly pressed dress pants, khakis, or a skirt or dress of appropriate length (at knee length)
- Pair with a loose-fitting and modest blouse and a jacket or cardigan or long-sleeved button down dress shirt
- Wear closed-toed shoes in a neutral tone, and if applicable, matching socks and belt
- A tie is optional but recommended for Career Fairs
- In colder weather, sweaters are acceptable
- Plan to arrive at 10-15 minutes early
- Introduce yourself to the receptionist and indicate who you are there to see. Remember, the interview starts the moment you drive into the parking lot and doesn’t end until you drive away
- Know how to pronounce the interviewer’s name
- Shake hands firmly
- Keep good eye contact with your interviewer
- Show confidence, interest, assertiveness, and enthusiasm
- Be yourself. Smile, relax, and be friendly
- Be honest
- Be courteous, polite, and respectful at all times
- Allow the interviewer to lead the interview
- Pause for a moment before answering questions, taking time to formulate a well thought out, organized
- Answer questions thoroughly by stating results and using examples
- Answer questions succinctly
- Make sure to answer each part of the question asked
- Make eye contact when speaking
- Always wait until you have been offered a seat, or until the interviewer sits
- Be aware of your posture the entire interview
- Be mindful of your nervous gestures, like overusing hands, fidgeting, or shifting
- Don’t be evasive. While past failures need not be volunteered, do not try to cover them up. If you do
have a blemish on your record, do not make excuses. Give a simple evaluation of the situation, and
what you learned from it, and move on
- Never speak poorly about former supervisors, colleagues, or employers. If you were unhappy, simply
explain that it was not a good fit
- Remember the names of others when introduced to them
- Pay attention. Do not ask questions about information that was already addressed in the interview
- Ask for a business card at the close of the interview to ensure that you have proper contact information
- Avoid asking questions about salary and benefits
- The employer should be the one to introduce this topic. It generally will be discussed during the second
interview or at the time of the offer
Sample Questions to Ask
- What type of training does your company provide?
- What do you enjoy about working here?
- What are some of the challenges this role will face?
- What qualities are you looking for in the person you hire?
- What are the short and long term goals of this company?
- How will my performance be measured?
After the interview
- Thank interviewers for their time and shake hands firmly with a smile
- Indicate that you look forward to hearing from them soon and welcome them to contact you if they need any additional information
- Send a thank you letter within twenty four hours reiterating your interest in the position. Email a thank you that day and ideally follow‐up with a hand written version
- Follow up promptly by providing any credentials, references, transcripts, or samples of work that might have been requested by the interviewer
- Keep records of important dates and details for follow-up
Evaluate your performance immediately following the interview:
- How well did you answer questions?
- What tone of voice did you and your interviewer use and
how did the interview progress?
- How comfortable was the interviewer with you and why do you think this is so?
- What did you find difficult about the interviewing process? Think in terms of the preparation
involved, speaking to them face to face or corresponding.
- How well did you ask questions? Consider your confidence in asking them, the length of
questions and the responses received.
- What can you do to improve your performance next time? Remember interviewing is a learning
process, so build the experience for the future.
Practice in Big Interview
Practicing is the best way to prepare for a successful interview! Use the University supported platform, Big Interview, to get hands-on practice with mock interviews tailored by industry, job, and experience level.
Big Interview is an interactive online system that combines training AND practice to help improve your interview technique and build your confidence.
- Challenging, virtual mock interviews for all experience levels and dozens of industries
- A database of thousands of interview questions with tips on how to answer them
- The ability to rate and share your interview answers for feedback
- A comprehensive video training curriculum covering all aspects of landing a job
- A step-by-step interview Answer Builder for crafting answers to behavioral questions
Access Big Interview
- STEP 1. Go to Big Interview and click “Register”
- STEP 2. Complete registration process
- STEP 3. You’ll then receive a confirmation email at your school email address. Click “Verify” in the email, and you’re ready to start!