The Interview

The Basics

In addition to practicing your answers to common interview questions, you should be aware of general interview etiquette. Remember the following points when preparing for an interview:

  • Review your résumé and make sure that you can explain everything on it.
  • Arrive at the interview ten minutes early to give yourself an opportunity to collect your thoughts and relax. If you rush in at the last minute, an employer may have serious concern about your ability to arrive on time for a scheduled work time.
  • Get a good night's sleep before your interview. Yawning will not impress anyone.
  • Eat something before the interview. If you are worried about your stomach growling, you will not be able to concentrate on the questions.
  • Dress appropriately for the position to which you are applying.
  • Make sure that you are clean, neat and well-groomed. Interviewers do notice your appearance and first impressions are critical.
  • Take a copy of your résumé, references and any other pertinent materials such as work samples or portfolios.

Interview Do's

  • Be relaxed but confident.
  • Maintain eye contact, especially when making your key points.
  • Be friendly, but not pushy or "chummy".
  • Maintain attentive posture and watch your non-verbals, such as nervous habits.
  • Express 100% interest in job for which you are applying.
  • Identify major issues students face.
  • Be aware that you cannot talk yourself into a job, but you can talk yourself out of one.
  • Express your strengths and accomplishments.
  • Pause before answering questions.
  • Speak in a confident voice; be enthusiastic.
  • Use action verbs in your interview and on the application/résumé.
  • Relax, take deep breaths, gather your thoughts before the interview.
  • Be able to transfer your skills to employer needs.
  • Be ready to answer common interview questions.
  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration.
  • Ask when you can expect to hear from him or her.
  • If it is not know when a decision will be reached, ask if you can check back in a few days.
  • If the interviewer offers his/her hand, shake it firmly. Otherwise, it is fine to offer yours first.

Interview Don'ts

  • Don't use slang, over talk or argue.
  • Be critical or negative.
  • Be defensive or act intimidated.
  • Chew gum or tap table.
  • Look at the floor or tell jokes.
  • Evade questions.
  • Be afraid to ask questions.
  • Volunteer private information, especially values, associations, bad experiences.
  • Even suggest that the job is a stepping stone.
  • Waste words and repeat yourself.
  • Talk in generalities.
  • Express concern about title, status, salary or fringe benefits (okay after you have the job offer).
  • Go into too much detail--60 second responses are about right.
  • Race through your answers--take your time.
  • Be casual in dress and approach.
  • Take your personal appearance for granted-check in mirror or ask someone.

Common Interview Questions

  • "Tell me about yourself" Make a short, organized statement of your education, skills and qualifications.
  • "Why do you want to work here?" Answer clearly and with enthusiasm about your skills and interest in the position.
  • "Why did you leave your last job?" If you did not have any problems, simply state the reason. If you did have problems, be honest. Show that you can accept responsibility and learn from your mistakes. You should explain any problems you had with an employer, but don't describe that employer in negative terms. Demonstrate that it was a learning experience that will not affect your future work.
  • "What are your best skills?" List them, then give examples where you have demonstrated these skills.
  • "What is your major weakness?" Be positive; turn a weakness into a strength. For example, you might say: "I often worry too much over my work."
  • "Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others?" The ideal answer is one of flexibility. However, be honest.