Landing an interview with a prospective employer is a significant accomplishment. Congratulations!
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.
- Research the position, the company, and the industry as much as possible.
- Become fluent and familiar with 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” or "elevator pitch" – 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 interviewer's questions. Visit our page on Job Interview Questions, prepare answers with specific examples from experiences on your resume, and practice them out loud.
- Schedule a mock (practice) interview. Well in advance of your interview date, make an appointment with a career advisor to practice and enhance your interviewing skills.
- Bring a copy of your resume, a list of references, 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, and time to make sure everything is in order and your mind is focused.
- 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.
- Show professional manners and etiquette. First impressions are extremely important. So much so that we've got an entire page about it!
- Take your time and think through your answers before speaking. 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, but know the range you are willing to accept.
- Thank everyone you meet with firm handshakes and direct eye contact.
- 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, asking simply for the expected time frame of their decision process.