Whether on the phone, virtual or in person, the interview is your opportunity to seal the deal and land the opportunity of your dreams. The first impression you make is essential to your being chosen to fill the open position. Interview preparation and practice are the most important steps you can take to ensure a positive interview experience.
Have an interview coming up?
Practice with one of our career advisors by scheduling a one-hour mock interview. We'll help you prepare to answer interview questions and offer tips to help you make an excellent impression.
Please email a copy of your resume and the job description to the advisor you are meeting at least 24 hours before your mock interview.
Prepare for the interview
The interview is your opportunity to share how your skills and experiences have prepared you to be successful in the role you seek, and an opportunity for the employer to sell you on the company. Interviews take practice. You’re much more likely to see a good outcome if you prepare beforehand.
Nearly all interviews contain two parts: questions about your past experience and situation-based questions to gauge your fit for the position. Afterward, you’ll be given the opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer.
Here's an overview of what to do before, during and after an interview:
Do your research
Before the 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. 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 before your interview. Whether on the phone, virtual or in person, the interview is your opportunity to seal the deal and land the opportunity of your dreams. The first impression you make is essential to your being chosen to fill the open position.
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.
- 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
- 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 or know-it-all
- Provide general, rather than specific, answers
- Behave too casually during less formal parts of the interview or with someone you know
- Sound rehearsed or memorized
- Ruminate on poor answers
Check out Interview Prep ahead of your next interview. It is an unlimited virtual mock interview program that also provides a behavioral interviewing guide while you prepare.
Please note: If you are unable to access the Interview Prep platform for any reason, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can schedule a mock interview with one of our career advisors on Handshake.
Identity + Career
For suggested questions you can ask during an interview as you gauge genuine support for diversity, equity, inclusion, and your own intersectional identities, as well as advice related to identity disclosure and responding to illegal questions, check out our Identity + Career page.