The interview is one of the most important steps in the job search process. It is
your chance to elaborate on how your education, skills, and experience fit what the
employer is looking for. An interview is ultimately what gets you a job offer. To
be successful in your interview remember that "Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance".
Do your research on the position and the company and come to the interview prepared
and ready to demonstrate your qualifications.
How to Prepare
The best way to prepare for an interview is to do your research, use the ‘About Us’
link on the organization’s website to start gathering information. Be able to discuss
your skills, interests, values, and goals that relate to the position and the company/organization.
- Research the company, its history, mission, and any current news articles or awards.
Know the companies goals and how you can be an asset to them.
- Analyze the position you are interviewing for, read the job description and highlight
the qualifications and main responsibilities. Understand what the requirements are
and know what may be required of you. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet all of
the specific requirements; just be sure to emphasize your strengths.
- Research interview questions and practice answering them in a mock interview or to
yourself in a mirror. Prepare short stories that demonstrate your skills, and qualifications
in a simple way. Prepare at least 3 to 5 questions to ask the interviewer(s) that
you cannot find answers to online.
- Be able to talk about yourself, practice a ‘Me in 30 seconds’ or ‘Elevator pitch.’
Be prepared to talk about why you are the right person for the job and demonstrate
your job related knowledge.
- Be prepared to talk about your strengths and weaknesses and how you are aware and
working on overcoming your weaknesses.
- Highlight your accomplishments, skills, abilities and potential as they relate to
the company and the position you are applying for.
- Practice interviewing through role play or a mock interview and get feedback on your
body language, tone of voice and way you answer questions. Practice will help you
be less nervous on interview day and will help you identify areas you can improve
What to do on Interview Day
- Arrive AT LEAST 5-10 minutes before your interview starts.
- Smile and be friendly to everyone you meet.
- Don’t fidget and avoid wearing any clothes or accessories that might distract interviewers.
- Remember to make direct eye contact with everyone in your interview, not just the
people who are asking you the questions.
- Greet interviewers with a handshake and be sure to get everyone’s names.
- Turn off your cell phone and throw away your gum.
- Answer all questions thoroughly, but don’t ramble. Use the STAR method when answering
Situation- What was the SITUATION for your example?
Task- What TASK(S) did you identify that had to be completed?
Action- What ACTION did you take?
Result- What was the RESULT of your actions?
Know What to Wear (When in doubt, be conservative!)
Dress appropriately for the position you desire. Usually this means dressing one level
higher than the typical work attire for the position, but when in doubt overdress
for your interview.
- Wear a clean, pressed suit and simple tie
- Avoid flashy jewelry and wearing too much cologne
- Wear polished dress shoes
- Present a clean-shaven or neatly trimmed beard, facial hair and fingernails
- Suit or skirt with slacks with an appropriate blouse
- Avoid revealing clothing skirts should be no shorter than 1” above the knee and no
- Be conservative in your makeup, perfume, and accessories
- Hair should be neatly arranged
What to Bring
Feel free to bring a notebook or portfolio to the interview so you can take notes
and write down the names of those who interview you. You can also write down questions
you would like to ask and bring them with you to the interview so you don’t forget.
Extra copies of your resume and references.
Bring a pen so you can take notes, if needed.
Any other documents that were requested in the job posting or by the interviewer.
*Remember it is completely normal to pause 5-10 seconds before answering a question
at an interview; this will help you eliminate filler words and help you be more clear
Concluding the Interview and Following Up
State how you are the best fit for the position.
Reiterate your interest for the position.
Establish a follow-up time; make sure you know when they are going to make a decision
and how you can follow-up if you don’t hear from them.
Thank everyone for their time and ask for a business card if they have one.
Write a thank-you note within two days of the interview at the latest. The thank-you
note is most effective when hand-written or typed and mailed through the postal service
or given in person. An email is also acceptable if you previously communicated with
the interviewer in that way. Send the note to each person on the interview committee
and give one to the front desk person/admin assistant you met when arriving for the
The thank-you note should re-emphasize your interest in the position and remind them
of your relevant skills and qualifications. Making the effort to send a note shows
initiative and enthusiasm for the job and can give you an edge over other candidates.
Questions you might be asked:
- Tell me about yourself and why you are interested in this position.
- Give an example of a project you have worked on.
- Give an example of a time you had to deal with an unexpected situation. What was the
- Tell us about a time you had to deal with an angry or irate person.
- Tell us about a project you worked on that did not turn out the way you wanted it
- Give us an example of your strengths and weaknesses.
- If we called one of your professors or previous supervisors what would they say about
- What are your career goals? Where do you want to be in 5 years?
- What do you know about our services/products?
- Why are you interested in working for our organization?