Employers use interviews as a way to gauge candidate's skills and abilities, and expect students to come to interviews prepared.
Surveys from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) show that employers seek candidates with the ability to:
- Verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Sell or influence others.
There are in-person, phone, zoom, and video (AI) interviews. All of these interview types require preparation and post-interview reflection. However, each have their own best practices and etiquette
Interview preparation begins long before you meet a company representative. The ability to communicate, to sell, and to market yourself is critical to getting the job offer, which is the primary purpose of a job interview.
Know What You're Selling
In a job search, you are the only product. You are what you are selling. It is important that you be able to articulate your unique skills and abilities, goals and objectives, and your short-term goals. Candidates who appear undecided seldom get the best offers.
Research the Employer
Simply landing interview with an employer does not guarantee a successful interview. Learn as much as you can beforehand about the employer and the opportunity offered. You may want to research the following topics to become more familiar with the company:
- Company age, ownership, and locations
- Organizational structure (i.e., parent company and/or subsidiaries)
- Sales/Financial picture of organization
- Product lines or services, major competitors, and the organizations place among them
- Career opportunities and paths available
You will want to prepare several questions to ask the recruiter at the end of the interview. When preparing these questions, you will want to consider the research you have done, and the companies values.
Practice for the Interview
Though you can’t know every question you’ll be asked in an interview, well prepared candidates have thought carefully about their responses to tough interview questions. Take some time to review common interview questions, and prepare thoughtful responses that demonstrate your strengths.
Need to practice? Our career services team offers several resources to help you prepare for your interview. You can schedule an appointment with a career advisor, and we can help you develop appropriate questions to ask, define your answers to probable interview questions, and conduct mock interviews with you for practice.
Expect questions that require thought on your part. Questions that start with how, what, or why such as:
- How do you feel about...?
- What do you think about...?
- Why did you choose to...?
- Tell me about a time when...?
- And, of course, everyone's favorite opener, "Tell me a little about yourself."
Look closely at your resume. An interviewer has the right to ask you about anything you have said or written. Be ready to defend and explain information on your resume and offer truthful answers to interview questions.
Know Your Interview Etiquette
There are a few unspoken etiquette rules during interviews. Learn more below.
Keep these in mind as you are speaking with your interviewer. Your attitude, behavior and etiquette will make an impact on prospective employers--so make sure to always put your best foot forward.
Have a Few Closing Questions for Them
Typically, at the end of the interview, the employer will ask you "Do you have any questions for me?" The interview is still very much in progress and the questions you ask will reflect a great deal on your professionalism. It is always a good idea to prepare specific questions in advance.
Immediately take the time to evaluate your own performance. Did you present yourself well? What would you do differently if you had another chance? What questions did you have difficulty answering? Write these down, and prepare answers for when it comes up again.
Write a short thank you letter to the interviewer immediately following interview (or the next day). Do so even if you have decided that you are no longer interested in the company. A good letter-writing strategy is to include one more bit of information about yourself that you would like your employer to know that wasn't covered in the interview.
Need help? Schedule a Mock Interview.