Preparing for the interview

So, you’ve made it to the interview. Now what?

The interview is a key part of the job application process, allowing you to put your best foot forward and the employer to sell you on his or her company. It’s also one of the best ways for both of you to see whether you would be a good fit for the position. Don’t try to “wing it”; you’re much more likely to see a good outcome if you prepare diligently beforehand.

How to nail your interview

Do your research

Before your interview, conduct some research on your career field, the potential employer and the position you are interviewing for.

Career field: Know current trends in your chosen field. Newsletters and websites of professional organizations related to your field can be excellent resources. Wetfeet, Riley Guide and Vault are just a few of the websites devoted to career field and employer research.

Employer: Read the employer’s printed materials and website. Become familiar with the mission of the organization. Be prepared to talk about why you want to work for that particular organization.

Position: Know the position description like the back of your hand. Be prepared to talk about your interest in the position and how you are uniquely qualified for the position.

Know the interview style

One-on-one: One-on-one is the traditional interview format where one interviewer interviews one applicant. You may have a series of one-on-one interviews with several different interviewers.

Panel: In a panel interview, the candidate is interviewed by several interviewers at one time.

Group: A group interview is a less common format, in which multiple candidates are interviewed at the same time by a panel of interviewers. The purpose of this unusual format is to see how candidates interact with each other. Some questions may even require the candidates to work together to solve a problem.

Lunch: Interviews conducted over a meal are becoming more and more common. Remember that the purpose of the meal is to continue the interview, not to eat. The conversation may become more informal during a meal, but don’t forget that you are still being evaluated — maintain your professionalism and stick to appropriate topics of conversation.

Information session: Your interview may include an information session on the company, which may include other candidates. Be prepared to interact with other candidates and use this opportunity to demonstrate your respectful and gracious attitude toward your “competition.”

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

Practice makes perfect. Practice your answers to common interview questions prior to your interview. InterviewStream is an excellent tool for interview preparation. It allows you to record yourself answering common interview questions and then evaluate your performance. To access InterviewStream, log in to your HireVCURams account and click the InterviewStream button on the left. 

Be on time

Few things can ruin an interview faster than showing up late or showing up unprepared. Always plan to arrive a few minutes earlier than your scheduled interview just in case there are any issues.

Be prepared

  • Dress professionally
  • Bring several copies of your resume and your cover letter
  • Bring a notebook or pad and a pen
  • Have a list of questions to ask your interviewer

What to do during the interview

  • Listen
  • Develop rapport
  • Use interviewers’ names
  • Treat every interaction with your employer as part of the interview
  • Communicate your excitement and motivation
  • Send a thank-you note

What not to do during the interview

  • Mistake stiffness for professionalism
  • Try to “take over” the interview by dominating the conversation
  • Talk poorly about past employers
  • Appear arrogant/know-it-all
  • Provide general, rather than specific, answers
  • Behave too casually during lunch/tour/less formal parts of interview or with someone you know
  • Sound rehearsed/memorized
  • Ruminate on poor answers