While the resume gets you the interview, it's the interview that gets you the job! It's so important to be prepared, including by researching the company and the individual(s) you're meeting with, anticipating and practicing questions, and preparing questions to ask during your interview.
There are many ways the Department of Employer Engagement and Career Design can help you get ready for your interview:
- Utilize Big Interview to practice answering questions
TIP: What is a Big Interview? You can use Big Interview to practice interviewing online using your webcam. This tool allows you to practice various types of questions, including general, behavioral and technical ones. The “Answer Builder” tool inside Big Interview will help you mine the depths of your memory to find the right stories to tell. Finally, you can record your answers and ask a career counselor to provide you with a feedback!
- Review our resources below as well as additional information on different types of interviews, including Case Interviews, Behavioral Interviews, Medical/Dental School Interviews and Technical Interviews.
- Make an Appointment with a career counselor to do a Mock Interview or to review Big Interview
Workshops and Webinars
Click below to check our calendar for upcoming Interview Workshops
See below 5- 6 minute recorded webinars in the Career Management module of the CareerX E-mini Course
Interview Questions How to Prepare for a Job Interview
Types of Job Interviews Behavioral Interviews
Finishing Your Interview Strong American Style Interviewing
Prepare to Be Your Best
Why bother to prepare? Employers are impressed by candidates who have researched their organization, analyzed the job description and express positive energy and enthusiasm for the job. Take the following steps to increase your Interview IQ:
Research the Individual(s) You're Meeting With
Companies will often give you the names of the individual(s) you’re meeting with, but if they don’t, it’s completely appropriate to ask “with whom will I be meeting?" Look at the company bio and LinkedIn profile, as well as Google, anyone you’re meeting with so that you know their background and can ask questions that show you’re well informed.
Research the Organization
Learn as much as you can before the interview. Visit their website to understand their products/services, the volume of business, competitors, culture, and other key information. Search for news articles or other publications about the organization. Use Google News, LexisNexis, Hoovers, Glassdoor, Wetfeet, and Business Week, as well as LinkedIn and Twitter. Of course, if anyone at your network works at the organization, you'll want to speak to them to get first-hand information.
Research the Job
In addition to researching the individual(s) you’re meeting with and the company, you need to understand as much as you can about the job itself. Analyze the job description and match your experiences, skills and interests to the job.
TIP: It’s also important to have a good idea of a salary range for the position in case that comes up during your interview, but also so that you can better negotiate when you have an offer. Check out our resources on Salary Negotiation, and also consider speaking to professionals in the field to find out what the typical entry-level salary for the field is (see Informational Interviewing handout).
Now that you have completed your research on the interviewer(s), company, job, and salary, you need to focus on yourself. Why are you interested in this position? How do your experiences and qualifications fit the requirements of the job? Be able to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, your educational background and work experiences, and your goals and values. Write down your competencies and accomplishments and think about concrete examples as evidence.
TIP: You should prepare at least 4-7 stories using the S-T-A-R method:
S - situation (give an example of a situation you were involved in that resulted in a positive outcome);
T - task (describe the tasks involved in that situation);
A - action ( what did you do/what actions did you take to complete the tasks effectively);
R - result (what was the outcome? what happened?).
See some examples of S-T-A-R responses below in the Behavioral Interview Questions.
Know the Interview Format Ahead of Time
Employers, depending on the type of role they are interviewing for, may Structure the Format to highlight job-seekers' strengths and abilities to think on their feet. It is completely appropriate to ask “how long should I plan to be at your office?” so you can prepare appropriately and pace yourself once you are there.
Practice, Practice, Practice
And then practice some more!
- Read the job description thoroughly.
- Prepare answers to potential questions in advance. Be sure to connect your skills with their specific requirements.
- Practice your answers with a friend or counselor in the Department of Career Development.
- Recorded mock interviews are also available, after a practice session with a counselor.
- Polish your S-T-A-R stories!
TIP: Don’t forget to take advantage of Big Interview, – an online interview practice tool that can be used from home if you have a webcam on your computer, or from the designated computer in the Department of Employer Engagement and Career Design.
Make a List of Questions to Ask
The questions you ask indicate your level of interest in the organization and your preparation for the interview. If you don’t have any questions to ask, most employers will think you’re not really interested in the job. Don’t ask questions that could easily be answered through your own research. Instead, ask questions that demonstrate a genuine interest in, and understanding of, the organization and the position. You should have at least 10 questions prepared.
- What are some of the qualities that will make the person in this position successful?
- Can you describe a typical day or week for the person in this position?
- What will the biggest challenges be for the person in this job?
- Could you tell me about the people with whom I will be working directly?
- What are the challenges currently facing the department/organization?
- How will the person in this position be evaluated?
- What are the opportunities for professional development?
- How has this job evolved over time?
- What are the advancement opportunities?
- How will this position have an impact?
- Does this position offer any flexibility?
- What are the next steps in this process?
- When may I expect to hear from you regarding my candidacy?
Types of Interview Questions
There are typically two types of interview questions. Common interview questions are those that are (almost) always asked and are typically designed to learn more about you, and how you’re a good fit for the position and the company; in other words, why the company should hire you.
As compared to common interview questions, behavioral interview questions are often more focused and are looking at how you’ve behaved in past situations as a way to gauge how you might respond in a similar, future situation. While interviews often focus on common and behavioral questions, you may also encounter interview questions (perhaps framed as a behavioral question) that are designed to probe a perceived weakness or shortcoming.
Finally, and depending on your field, you may encounter a case interview. For more information on case interviews, check out our Case Interviews page.
Common Interview Questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why are you interested in this position?
- Where do you see yourself after graduation?
- What do you know about the company?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What's your dream job?
- Can you describe one or two of your most important accomplishments?
- What are your greatest professional strengths?
- Why should I hire you?
- What do you hope to gain from this position?
- What type of work environment do you prefer?
- List three things your former supervisor/co-workers would say about you.
- What do you like to do for fun?/ What do you like to do outside of work?
TIP: Interviewers ask personal questions in an interview to see if candidates will fit in with the culture as well as give them the opportunity to open up and display their personality. In other words, if someone asks about your hobbies outside of work, it is acceptable to open up, however, keep a following in mind. Telling that Monday is usually a rough day for you because you’re always hungover is a terrible idea. So is saying that you like to have a few beers at the local hot spot on Saturday night. Please avoid those examples! Instead, it would be appropriate to say that you like cooking and having friends over for dinner.)”
Adapted from themuse.com
Etiquette for the Interview
Arrive early – about 15 minutes early so you have time to find the specific office or suite and settle in.
Dress appropriately – in other words, dress for success! It’s best to dress more conservatively rather than risk being under-dressed. If you wish to learn What to Wear for Different Job Interviews Based on the Company, read this Careerbuilder article.
Be polite – your interview starts the moment you walk through the door, so be polite and courteous to everyone, and remember to turn your cell phone off.
TIP: For additional information on Phone/ Skype/ Recorded and other types of Interviews, review our Types of Interviews page.
Thank You Notes (Samples)
Employers expect to hear from you and will wonder about your interest in the position and your professionalism if they don’t receive one. You should send a thank you note within 24 hours after the interview to each person you interviewed with. It’s best to send the thank you note by email, however, some people would appreciate a handwritten note by regular mail (not required). Make sure your note is targeted and thoughtful – take the opportunity to reiterate your enthusiasm and/or to clarify something you don’t think you answered well.
Responding to the Job Offer
Your first step after being given a verbal job offer is to thank the employer for the offer and express your enthusiasm. Then, ask when you can expect to receive a written offer, and when they need to hear back from you with an answer. It’s best not to accept the offer on the spot, as that prevents you from following up with other employers you may have interviewed with, but not yet heard from, and also doesn’t give you the opportunity to review the written terms of the offer to try to negotiate your Salary and/or other terms. After receiving the offer letter with salary and benefits information, you should ask any questions, negotiate, and/or accept the offer!
Tips for Interviewing While Pregnant
Disclosing your Pregnancy to Employers
According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, discriminating against a woman because she is pregnant is illegal. Also, women are not legally obligated to tell a prospective employer they’re pregnant. While some experts say there is no reason to disclose this information to employers, especially if you’re not showing, others say it’s sometimes better to be upfront and transparent. If you’re not showing, we would still recommend you address the pregnancy so that the employer doesn’t feel ‘tricked,’ however, of course, it is a personal choice. Consider though that in the long run, people will respect you for telling them even though they would not have known.
Why Employers Care
While it’s illegal for a company to withhold a job offer from you because you’re pregnant, unfortunately, many employers will consider your pregnancy (and impending maternity leave) to be an unnecessary burden. The main concerns are: “How much time will you be out of the office?” – as when an employer is filling a position, they usually have a clear and immediate need for someone to fill the role; and “Will you be committed to the position?” – as employers may be worried that a new mother will decide not to come back to work after maternity leave.
Talking About Your Pregnancy
In order to reassure employers, it is recommended that you come prepared to the interview with answers about the timing of your maternity leave and how you’ll have your duties covered in your absence. You should also reiterate your enthusiasm for the position and your interest in a long-term career at the organization. For example, if the employer hints at having concerns about the time you’d need off for your maternity leave, cheerfully remind them that, in the grand scheme of things, your maternity leave will be a brief absence over the course of your time with them. Then, it would be a good idea to ask the employer a question to shift the conversation away from your family plans and back to where it should be focused — on the job requirements and your qualifications.
Adapted from Careerbuilder.com