Preparing for the job interview can be one of the most stressful parts of the job search. Luckily, there are a number of tools and techniques to make this task easier. The key to any interview is being well prepared. It is important to write down, in advance, the answer to questions you are likely to be asked. This will help you focus your thoughts.
Before the Interview: Dress to Impress
- Know the typical dress-code of the company you're interviewing for: Business Casual, Business Professional, Uniforms, etc.
- First impressions are important; dress the part by wearing conservative, simple, and comfortable clothing.
- *Avoid: Wrinkles and tags on clothing; heavy perfumes and colognes; denim pants of any sort; mismatching or overly flamboyant clothing and/or accessories; ill-fitting shirts, pants, or skirts; unruly hair or facial hair; long and bright fingernails; exposed tattoos and body piercings.
- See examples for men and women on the graphic to the right, or visit the Dress for Success page for more detail.
- How should I wear my hair at an interview?
- Does this style allow ample room to see my face?
- Will this style hold without touch-ups after arriving to the interview site?
Before the Interview: Research the Company
- It might be important to first determine if you are a good fit for the position and company. Find out what a "good fit" is and if you have it here.
- The interviewer will expect that you have taken the time to read about their company. Most likely, you will be asked questions relating to the company and its culture. BE PREPARED!
- Learn as much as possible about the particular position you are applying for. Familiarity with the job description is desirable.
- Be familiar with the corporate web page. Your knowledge of the company will come in handy during the interview.
- Research and compose a list of questions about the company’s services, products, and philosophies.
- *Examples: What is unique about them? Who are their competitors? Who are the key people? What is the structure? What are the target markets? What is their mission and goals? Etc.
- Write down several reasons you would like to work for that company.
Before the Interview: Practice and Prepare!
- The interview atmosphere should be POSITIVE. Learn to articulate your strengths and
weaknesses and emphasize the positive contributions you can make.
- Prepare for Questions
- The questions below are divided into two categories, traditional and behavior-based. You will recognize the difference between the two types of questions immediately. You will need to be prepared for both types of interview questions. The Student Career Development Office and the Library have several books and handouts containing additional interview questions.
- Prepare for Questions
- Be prepared to articulate your quantifiable strengths as determined by such things as skill, experience, and education. List specific examples and be able to tell brief stories.
- Read and edit your cover letter and résumé. Be able to back them up. Bring multiple copies to distribute if needed during the interview.
- Check your schedule to be sure you have nothing important planned in the next few weeks. You do not want an employer to reconsider a position because you have a vacation planned.
- Set up a mock-interview with friends, family, or Student Career Development Staff (Make an Appointment).
- DO NOT arrive late! It is not acceptable to be late for an interview. Arrive early by accounting for traffic, weather, construction, loss in direction, etc.
- Arrive with a smile on your face, good posture, and a firm handshake.
- TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Even the “vibrate” setting can cause distractions.
- Be kind and polite to EVERYONE you come in contact with. Employers could ask secretaries or other employees if certain applicants made a positive or negative impression on them.
During the Interview: What Makes You Stand Out?
- Give the interviewer a firm handshake
- Make good eye contact with the interviewer
- Body Language:
- Try not to fidget or touch your face or hair too often
- Keep an upright posture
- Be confident and energetic
- Highlight your personality and sense of humor. Employers want to see if you will fit well with the company’s culture and team.
- Be honest and listen carefully. Be attentive to the question being asked so that you answer the question to the best of your ability. Stay focused on the issue at hand rather than on issues that may arise later in the interview.
- Believe it or not, it is alright to admit you are nervous. Some interviewer may find this to be a relatable quality
ALWAYS ask questions at the end of an interview, it is expected. Prepare several questions as some will be answered during the natural course of the interview. You should be able to ask 2-3 questions that were not answered during the interview and could not be found online.
- Examples of Questions to ask
- Examples of Questions to Avoid:
- Never ask about pay, time off, benefits, etc.
- You can usually inquire about this information after a job offer has been made. (See the Job Offers & Negotiations tab for more information.)
- Never ask many questions about the interviewer's background
- Never ask how quickly you can be promoted
- Never ask about gossip you've heard
- Never ask for information you could have easily found with a quick search
- Never ask about pay, time off, benefits, etc.
After the interview: What to Do
- Thank you Notes:
- It is important that you send an electronic (email) thank you note the same day of
the interview to the person(s) with whom you interviewed. A handwritten thank you
note using high-quality paper should also be sent within 24 -48 hours after the interview.
- Most interviewees only send an electronic thank you note. Writing a hand-written thank you will help you to stand out.
- It is important that you send an electronic (email) thank you note the same day of the interview to the person(s) with whom you interviewed. A handwritten thank you note using high-quality paper should also be sent within 24 -48 hours after the interview.
- Thank you notes should be brief and concise. See an example here.
- Allow a few weeks for the hiring process to unfold then give the hiring manager a
nice nudge to keep yourself and your capabilities active in their considerations by
leaving a professional voicemail.
- Be sure to leave the following information in your voicemail:
- Name (2x- Beginning of the message and the end)
- Phone number(2x- slowly-beginning of the message and end)
- Reminder that you recently interviewed and /or previously interacted
- An upbeat message
- A pleasant reiteration of your interest
- A graceful exit
- Allow a few weeks for the hiring process to unfold then give the hiring manager a nice nudge to keep yourself and your capabilities active in their considerations by leaving a professional voicemail.
- Make sure you are comfortable using the software before the interview
- If you do not have a professional username, create a new one
- Dress professionally, use good body language and smile
- Set up your computer in a quiet space with a clean, professional background (i.e. clear wall)
- Have an outline of the points you want to make and your resume in front of you for reminders
- Keep a glass of water near you
- Arrange a quiet space without visual distractions
- Make sure you have your resume, writing utensil, and blank paper for notes in front
- Jot down the interviewer(s) name(s) down at the beginning
- Ensure you have a good connection, it is best to use a landline