An interview gives an employer the opportunity to get to know you better and determine whether or not you are the best “fit” for a particular position. It also gives you the chance to ask questions and evaluate whether the organization is a good fit for you. While interview formats differ, one thing remains the same: the more you prepare and practice, the better your chances of doing well. Know what kind of questions there are and practice answering sample questions with a friend. You can also schedule a mock interview with a career counselor (call 258-3325).
Here are 10 things to remember as you prepare for your interviews:
1. Think about why you wanted to apply for this position. You will be asked “Why are you applying for this position?”; your answer should be more specific than “Because I can do this job.”
2. Think about why you want to work for this employer. Research the organization
so that you can respond to “Why do you want to work here?” with particular information about the organization and what makes it appealing to you. It will also help you to prepare questions to ask the employer
at the end of the interview when it is your turn to do the asking.
3. Think about 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 remind yourself of the qualifications they seek. Go through your resume line by line, asking yourself these kinds of questions: 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?
Practicing Your Pitch
4. Greet your interviewer and stay engaged. Offer a sufficiently firm handshake and smile to show your interest and enthusiasm. Maintain good eye contact during interviews, as this conveys honesty and confidence. If the interviewer seems to be taking more of a conversational approach, don’t be afraid to ask questions during the interview instead of waiting until the end.
5. Watch your pace and length of answers. Try not to speak too quickly or slowly. Minimize the use of verbal fillers (such as “like,” “you know,” and “ummm”). Answer questions completely but try not to ramble or spend too much time on one response. It is okay for you to take a moment to think before you respond, as jumping on a tough question might get you started down the wrong path.
6. Watch your body language. If you tend to use your hands a lot 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 will 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.
7. Don’t get defensive if asked “difficult” questions. Employers do not generally select candidates for an interview unless they have what it takes to do the job. Remain positive and focus on what you have learned or how you have grown through a negative experience.
8. Bring a pen, folder/portfolio with notepad, and extra copies of your resume.
The interview should have your resume already, but it’s a good idea to bring 1 or 2 extra copies. Generally you don’t want to write during the interview (unless it is a case interview
), but immediately after the interview jot down some notes and any items to remember to mention for your thank-you letters
, which you should always send soon after you interview.
9. Arrive 5-10 minutes early.
Give yourself more than that to arrive early, but If you are more than 10-15 minutes early, try to find another place to wait, like a nearby coffee shop. Sometimes the waiting area can be in someone’s work space, and you don’t want to be loitering for too long. If you are using the on-campus recruiting program, be sure to familiarize yourself with the policies particular to these on-campus interviews
10. Keep track of interviews. Keeping track of the dates of your interviews and with whom you met, as well as the timeframe in which you expect to hear back, will help you to know when you need to follow up.