Interviewing is a focused dialogue with an immediate goal – to convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the position. Preparation is the key! Know the company and even more so, know your motivation. What are you bringing to the table? You won’t always have practiced the questions you’ll be asked, but if you’re confident in your fit, convincing the employer of this becomes easier.

Before the interview

Learn as much as you can about the type of position you are pursuing.

Read the job description if it is available. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have capabilities in every area, but think about your transferable skills or experiences.

Conduct informational interviews with alumni in this type of position or at the company.

What have been some of the major news items and trends in the business or other trade publications in the past year or six months?

Research the organization.

Besides going to the employer’s web site, read their annual report (call and ask for one).

Know what products or services the employer produces or performs.

Find out about the employer’s reputation within the industry.

Keep calm through preparation.

Attend an interview workshop and/or schedule a mock interview through the Center for Career Engagement.

Think about your strengths and work skills and be able to demonstrate these through an example or story.

If possible, go to the location a few days before your interview to see how long it takes, to learn where parking is available, and to see the building.

Practice the “Tell me about yourself” question. Develop a 1-2 minute speech that introduces you, briefly tells about your background and education, and makes 2-3 points that you’ll want to  re-visit during the rest of the interview.

Think about and prepare questions you would like to ask the interviewer

During the interview

Paul Hopke '87

First impressions matter.

Arrive 10-15 minutes ahead of time. This gives you time to go to the restroom one last time to check your hair and clothes and to get to the waiting area in advance. Be pleasant and polite to everyone you see.

Smile and introduce yourself to the receptionist. That person can be a true ally to you.

Establish good eye contact and greet the interviewer with a firm handshake.

It’s show time!

Really listen to the question, reflect first on your response and then answer the question.  If you do not understand the question, politely ask for clarification.

Be specific about your skills and experiences and how they can be of benefit to the employer. 

Examples help to emphasize the points you want to make.

If you are in a group interview, make eye contact with everyone as you speak.  Start and end with the person who asked the question.

Wrapping it up.

Be ready at the end to ask your questions.

It is generally not appropriate for you to bring up salary and benefits in a first interview, but be prepared to talk about this if the interviewer introduces it.

Sum up your interest and enthusiasm for the position.

Ask the interviewer about the timeline for making decisions and follow-up.

Make sure to get each interviewer’s business card.

Check out this video on how to ace your interview!

After the interview

Reflect on your experience.

What parts of the interview went well for you? What went poorly?

Use this to improve future interviews.

Thank the interviewer.

Write a thank-you note to each interviewer within 24-48 hours of the interview. It may be typed or hand-written. Make sure to briefly include things that you might want the interviewer to know about you. Keep it personal, mentioning specific things you discussed.