Landing an interview with a prospective employer is a significant accomplishment. This is your opportunity to make a personal connection with the employer and show why you’d be perfect for the job. Therefore, learning how to prepare and interview well is essential. Interviewers want to see that you are able to present yourself, that you are articulate and comfortable, and that you are able to handle difficult questions and situations. They also want to see what kind of colleague you will be.
Below you'll find an outline for tips to consider. Read through our Inside Interviews handout for more comprehensive strategies for preparing for your interview.
Research the position, company, and industry as much as possible.
Become fluent in the information on your resume.
Walk in the employers’ shoes, reflect on the qualities and experiences they are seeking, and write down just how you match these needs. Practice expressing your strengths in different ways, to different potential questions. Use as many concrete examples as possible.
Create your “sound bite” – two or three sentences that clearly state why the employer should hire you, articulating your strengths and demonstrating your uniqueness. An interviewer may ask this directly or imply it in other questions, so you should be able to adapt it to the situation.
Anticipate the interviewers questions. Visit our section on Job Interview Questions, prepare answers with specific examples from your resume, and practice them out loud.
Schedule a Mock interview. Make an appointment with a career advisor to practice and enhance your interviewing skills.
On the Day of the Interview
Bring a copy of your resume, a list of references, possibly an unofficial copy of your transcript, and a list of questions for employers. Place all documents in a portfolio with a pen.
Dress appropriately for the industry or the company. You want to be remembered for who you are and not what you wear. Consider a solid conservative suit with coordinated shirt or blouse, polished shoes, and limited jewelry. Be well groomed with little scent or makeup. Be sure to feel comfortable.
Arrive 15 minutes early, with time for a stop in the restroom to make sure everything is in order.
Take a deep breath, relax as much as possible, and be confident. Think of your interview as a business meeting between equals. Remember, you are also interviewing them.
Be yourself. When asked the most common reason for hiring someone, interviewers answered that it was because they liked the individual.
At the Interview
Manners and Etiquette are extremely important, especially in a job interview.
Take your time and think through your answers. You are not expected to fire back answers as though you had memorized everything.
Be enthusiastic about the position and do not project any ambivalence.
Do not mention money first, but know the range you are willing to accept.
After the Interview
Thank everyone you meet.
Ask for business cards from everyone you meet during the interview. This will be helpful in writing thank you emails or letters.
Send an e-mail or hand-written thank-you note within 12 to 24 hours after your interview to anyone with whom you interviewed. Express your sincere appreciation, reemphasize your strongest qualifications, and reiterate your interest in the position.
Plan your follow-up contact based on the information the employer has provided about the search. If they are interviewing candidates for a week, follow up after that time period. Employers can take between two and eight weeks before informing candidates about the position. If the process is not clear, you can follow up with an email or phone call after two weeks.