Preparing for an Interview


You have been extended an invitation to a job interview. An employer has decided after reviewing your cover letter and resume that your experience and skill sets match what they are looking for in a qualified candidate. The interview provides you with the opportunity to:

  • Meet face to face with a hiring authority and listen as well as engage in conversation about the position.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of the employer's expectations while conversing over the written job description.
  • Articulate your job related and transferable skills as well as how you are prepared to contribute to the organization.
  • Demonstrate your research about the organization and ask the questions you prepared ahead of time.
  • Learn how you would fit in the organization.
  • Discover if the organization is the right fit for you.

Do you want to be fully prepared for effective interviewing? Contact your Career Development adviser to schedule a mock interview or to review the steps to take regarding the interview process.

Understand an Employer's Preparation

The interviewer will spend time prior to the interview reviewing the job description and evaluating the skills necessary for the job. Once these skills are determined, the interviewer will develop position-oriented, open-ended questions that will help the employer determine your potential for performing the job, as well as how you would fit in the organization. 

Interviewers will usually ask behavior-oriented questions, since past and present behavior typically indicates how you will act and respond in future situations.

Expect to discuss:

  • Job description requirements
  • Employer expectations
  • Character and commitment to excellence
  • Your development as a professional in the field
  • Relevant experience
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Computer proficiency (relevant software or programming) skills
  • Leadership experience and abilities
  • Teamwork experience
  • Analytical skills
  • Genuine interest in the organization and position based on your research and well-developed questions

Remember that the interview is a two-way street. It is an opportunity for you and the employer to assess if the position is a good match. When answering questions, be truthful, positive, and focused. Most interviews last between 30 and 60 minutes and are generally pleasant and friendly, so relax! Be sure to smile and demonstrate a pleasant countenance.

Your Preparation

  • Plan your route for getting to the interview and if possible, do a test drive to ensure you know the route and allow for plenty of time to arrive 10 minutes early.
  • Prepare your clothing in advance, making sure all is clean, pressed and polished.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume with your abbreviated portfolio and carry them in a nice portfolio with a zipper or snap.
  • Turn off your cell phone before you enter the interview (you don't even want it to buzz during the interview).

Know Yourself

  • To answer the question, "Tell me about yourself." briefly and clearly present your passion for the field or position and the top 3 or 4 job-related and transferable skills.
  • Avoid disclosing any personal information about marital status, children, health issues etc. as well as stating personal opinions.
  • Keep the interview conversation work-oriented.
  • Assess strengths and weaknesses.
  • Identify your interests and values that are related to the position as well as the organization.
  • The focus of the interview is on you, so be prepared to concisely elaborate with examples on any item in your resume.
  • Provide tangible, simple examples to demonstrate how you have developed your skills.
  • Be able to briefly state your long-term goals, tailoring them as much as possible to the employer's expectations of a successful employee.
  • Articulate why you are interested in this field and position.
  • Identify your accomplishments and the things you might have done differently.
  • Be prepared to answer the question, "Why should we hire you?"

Know the Organization and the Field

  • Research the organization, position and field (become familiar with the products and/or services they offer).
  • Know the company's owners and learn about their management philosophy.
  • Research what the last five years have been like for the organization.
  • Read current periodicals, journals, and newspapers to learn about company/community changes and trends.
  • Familiarize yourself with the organization's mission statement, annual reports, and structure.
  • Consider the organization's competitors, clients, customers and services.
  • Consider taking a brief S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis.

Practice Interviewing

  • Review interview questions with a peer and use an audio recorder to critique answers.
  • Prepare a list of 5-7 questions that you can ask the employer.