Preparing for the Interview

You are encouraged to attend the workshops offered by the Career Center on "Interview Techniques".


  • Develop a clear understanding of your education and experience.
  • Identify your skills and abilities and interests. Assess yourself in such terms as intelligence, creativity, leadership qualities, communication, interpersonal, and technical skills.
  • Be prepared to cite examples which will bring these qualities to light.
  • Analyze your strenghts, weaknesses, personal aspirations, work values, attitudes, and expectations.


  • Learn as much as you can about the nature of the job. Find out the specifications.
  • Learn as much as possible about the company: size, products, structure, sales, and funding sources.
  • Your interest reflects enthusiasm for the job and an understanding of the company's goal.

List of Accomplishments:

Think back on your school, work and other life experiences. Recall how things were when you first joined the organization and how you improved the organization/ people/ situation. THINK "PROBLEMS, SOLUTIONS & RESULTS" AND ASK YOURSELF:

  • What did I do? How did I do it? What events am I proud of?
  • Did I do something faster, better, cheaper?
  • Did I increase morale or participation in any activity?
  • Did I identify and/or help solve any problems?
  • Did I suggest a new service, product, or project?
  • Did I reach out for more work or more responsibility?
  • Did I achieve results with little or no supervision?
  • Did I establish new goals and objectives?
  • Did I motivate others?
  • Did I coordinate any event or project?
  • Did I train another person? What were the results?

Now Quantify the Results You Uncovered Through the Above Exercise

  • Compare: "Vice President of Junior Class"
  • To: "Vice President of Junior Class; organized and directed a fund rasing drive
    which raised $1,900 for scholarship fund."

Interview Appearance


  • Clean cut and well-shaven
  • A conservative look in clothing is suggested
  • Shoes should be black, brown or navy, and should be shined
  • Basic business suit should be 2-pieced, straight leg


  • A tailored suit or nice dress; wool in winter and soft blend for the warmer seasons
  • Shoes should not be too low or too high
  • Do not overdo the make-up

Note: Use common sense. Don't wear something you would normally wear to a party. Try to picture the interview as a meeting that will have a real bearing on your future. You want to "dress to impress." Again, first impressions say a lot about you, the "professional."

The Interview

  • Familiarize yourself with the typical questions:
    • Be sure you answer all the questions briefly and clearly. If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification
    • When Practical, elaborate on your responses
  • Do not hesitate to be the initiator. Introduce information you think is important.
  • Dwell consistently on positive, strong points. If necessary, explain negative points, but do
    not make excuses.
  • Be prepared with a few pertinent questions related to the position and organization.

Note: Do not view the interview as an examination where you are on the defensive, but as a
presentation of your talents and background. The key to any interview is control.

Four Parts to an Interview:

  • Rapport Building: Small talk helps both parties ease into the interview. Stick with intelligent and non-controversial topics.
  • Questions and Answers: Usually takes up about half of the interview. A good rule of thumb is to ask about half as many questions as you are required to answer.
  • The Sell: You will know it is time to sell yourself when the interviewer says something like: "Is there anything else you would like to say?" Talk about making a contribution. Be specific, but brief.
  • The Close: This is the step that assesses the interest on either side. Mention the reasons why you are enthusiastic about the job. Add any information you might have omitted earlier. Ask questions if there had been no previous opportunity to do so. Find out the next step. Will there be another interview? When? How soon could you expect to hear from them?

Three Key Questions To Ask in an Interview:

  • What qualities do you look for in a candidate for this position? This question helps you decide which examples from your background you should emphasize to the interviewer.
  • When was the previous person in this job promoted? Do not ask what happened to this person, it has negative overtones. Also, now is not the time to ask about your changes for advancement; you have not even been offered the job, yet!
  • Please describe a typical day. Do not ask questions about hours, overtime, and benefits.

Always remember to send a thank you note for your interview. This note should highlight why you would be a good match; also thank the person for her or his time.

Last updated: 1/26/2009 3:14:13 PM