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Career Action Center

The Interview Process

Before the Interview

  • When called for an interview, restate the time and place to be sure you have recorded it correctly. Ask who the interviewer(s) will be and the format of the interview.
  • Prepare answers to common interview questions, including behavior-based questions. Practice aloud by yourself or with a friend playing the role of interviewer. There’s no substitute for practice.
  • Decide on five reasons you would be a tremendous asset to this organization. These are your selling points. Spend time practicing how you will explain the reasons you are an outstanding candidate.
  • Be ready to tell the interviewer why you want to work for this company in this position.
  • Identify your top 4-6 strengths and talents. Think of examples of using the strengths and develop short anecdotes that describe your accomplishments and contributions. Practice speaking these aloud.
  • Create a list of questions you will ask during the interview.
  • Research the organization on the Internet or at the library.
  • Carefully plan what you will wear to the interview. Avoid trendy clothes, too much jewelry and heavy scents. All are distracting.
  • Allow more time than you think you need to get to the interview. Traffic may be heavier than you expected. Plan to arrive a few minutes early so you have time to relax.
  • Gather these items to take with you: additional résumé copies, list of references, samples of your work assembled in a portfolio.

During the Interview

  • Smile! Employers hire people they would like to work with. Be likable.
  • Let your enthusiasm show. Be excited about what you've accomplished.
  • Answer each question in two minutes or less.
  • Tell the stories you developed before the interview. Be interesting. Give specific examples that demonstrate your expertise.
  • Ask questions about the job and the organization. Find out about their problems and challenges.
  • Rather than recite your history, emphasize problems solved and contributions made.
  • If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification before you answer it.
  • At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for his/her time. If you’d like the job, express your interest. Ask about the selection process (is there a second interview?) and when a decision will be made.

After the Interview

  • Immediately after the interview, make notes on whatever you can remember.
  • Review how it went. Make notes on these questions:
    • What did I do well? (At least 5 things)
    • What things about my background, skills and strengths seemed to interest the interviewer?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • Things I’ll do differently during my next interview.
    • Concerns I have about the position or organization.
    • Things I liked about the position and the organization.
  • Give yourself a reward. You deserve it. (Have a latté, go for a walk, see a movie)
  • If you gave out your list of references, call each person. Give them information about the position they can be ready to answer a reference call.
  • Send a thank-you letter or email the same day.
  • If you don’t hear back by the time the employer promised, it's appropriate to call and politely ask where the organization is in the decision-making process.