Preparing for Interviews
An interview gives an employer the opportunity to get to know you and determine whether you are the best fit for a position. It also gives you the chance to evaluate whether the organization is a good fit for you.
10 Tips for Great Interviews
While interview formats differ, one thing remains the same: the more you prepare, the better your chances of doing well. Practice answering sample questions in advance.
1. Think about why you wanted to apply.
You will be asked “Why are you applying for this position?” Be more specific than “Because I can do this job.”
2. Consider why you want to work there.
Research so that you can speak to your interest with particular information about what makes the organization appealing. It will also help you to prepare questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview.
3. Review what you have to offer.
Review your resume and cover letter to remind yourself of what you told the employer about your background, motivation and qualifications. Re-read the original job description to recall the qualifications. Ask yourself:
- What did I like/not like about this?
- What kind of skills did I use?
- How did I demonstrate teamwork or leadership?
- What would I do differently?
- What were my accomplishments?
4. Dress to impress.
In some industries daily work attire is business casual versus formal suits. However, unless specifically instructed by the recruiter otherwise, it is best to dress in a suit for an interview.
5. Bring a pen, folder/portfolio with notepad and extra resumes.
The interviewer should have your resume, but bring extra copies. Generally, you don’t want to write during the interview (unless it is a case interview), but immediately afterwards jot down notes and items to remember for thank-you letters, which you should always send soon after.
6. Arrive 5–10 minutes early.
If you are more than 10–15 minutes early, find another place to wait, like a nearby coffee shop. Sometimes the waiting area can be in someone’s workspace, and you don’t want to be loitering for too long.
7. Keep track.
Gather business cards from everyone you meet. Log the dates of your interviews and the people you met, as well as the timeframe in which you expect to hear back. It will help you remember when to follow up.
8. Deliver your pitch.
- Stay engaged. Offer a firm handshake and smile to show interest and enthusiasm. Maintain good eye contact, as this conveys honesty and confidence.
- Ask questions. If the interviewer seems to be taking a conversational approach, don’t be afraid to ask questions during the interview instead of waiting until the end.
- Watch your pace. Try not to speak too quickly or slowly. Minimize use of verbal fillers (such as “like,” “you know” and “ummm”).
- Be concise. Answer questions completely but don't ramble. It is okay to take a moment to think before you respond. Jumping on a tough question might get you started down the wrong path.
9. Watch your body language.
If you tend to use your hands when you speak, be sure it doesn’t become irregular or distracting. Keep an upright posture and don’t lean on the table in front of you or slouch back in your chair. This will help you to stay sharp and convey a sense of interest. This is also important if it is a phone interview, as slouching can result in a slackened tone in your voice.
10. Don’t get defensive if asked “difficult” questions.
Employers do not interview candidates unless they have what it takes to do the job. Remain positive and focus on what you have learned or how you have grown.