An interview is your opportunity to present your background, experience, and skills to a potential employer. The interviewer is evaluating your skills, experience, and qualifications to see if you are a good fit for the position and organization. Just as importantly, an interview is your opportunity to evaluate a potential supervisor and work environment and see if it is a good fit for you.
Acing Your Interview
Prepare for it
- Research the position and organization. Find out as much as possible through online research, information provided by the organization, as well as any personal contacts you have within the organization.
- Know yourself. Based on what you find out about the position and organization, list the skills and traits you have that are needed for the job. Identify specific examples of your work experience or activities that exhibit the necessary qualifications.
- Practice. Interviewing is not a natural skill for most. Anticipate the possible questions you may be asked in an interview and formulate your answers. You may schedule a mock interview with the Career Services office to practice your answers and get feedback.
- Prepare questions for the employer. Remember, you're interviewing them, too.
- Bring extra copies of your résumé with you.
- Dress professionally.
- Arrive 15 minutes early. Carry the interviewer's phone number with you in case you are unavoidably delayed so you can call him/her.
- Turn off your cell phone prior to the interview.
- Start with a confident, firm handshake. First impressions matter.
- Be mindful of body language. Make good eye contact, and make sure you are expressing enthusiasm throughout.
- Listen carefully to each questions. It's ok to pause to compose your thoughts and provide a thoughtful, concise answer.
- Be specific about how your skills and accomplishments relate to their desired qualifications.
- Speak in positive terms. Never say negative comments about former employers or co-workers.
- Avoid questions about salary and benefits. These issues are better left for after you have been offered the position. Be sure to conduct research regarding current salary range and expectations.
- End strong. Close the interview with a summary statement reiterating your skills and reaffirm your interest in the position.
- Ask for a timeline regarding the hiring process.
- Write a thank you note. This is a great opportunity to restate your qualifications and interest in the position and organization. Specifically reference something from the interview that was a highlight. Ideally this is written and sent within 24 hours of your interview.
- Remain in contact with the organization as long as the interviewer says the position is open.
- Ask for feedback. If you do not get the position, ask the interviewer for recommendations and feedback for future interviews.