Three basic questions are at the heart of every interview:
- Can you do the job?
- Do you want the job?
- Will you fit in?
The interviewer will not only be assessing your verbal responses to their questions, they will also be looking for nonverbal clues such as your demeanor, your attitude, your attire, and your manners.
To ace your interview, follow these steps:
Know the organization and the job
You need to do as much research as possible into the company you are interviewing for and ask thoughtful and targeted questions during the interview. Reviewing the company website is a good place to start, but don’t stop there. You should also read their annual report, search the Internet for press releases, and speak with former and current employees.
Know why you are the best person for this particular job
You want to align your skills, experience, and education with the requirements of the position and with the organization. Do your research (review the job description and your resume). Be prepared to cite specific examples when you answer the interviewer’s questions.
Use the following tools to help you prepare:
Interview Preparation Worksheet
Interview Rubric (from www.jobweb.com)
Review lists of sample questions and prepare answers.
Sample questions can be found at:
Don’t let the interview be the first time you answer these questions. It is important to prepare and practice prior to the real interview. You may want to role play an interview with a friend or family member, or take advantage of Optimal Resume's interview software.
This interview software will allow you to create and review real-to-life multimedia interview scenarios.
To schedule a practice interview with an Alumni & Career Services Mentor, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dress for success:
- Dress your best! Select professional, conservative attire
- Make sure your outfit is ready; cleaned and pressed; stain and wrinkle-free
- Make sure shoes are clean and polished
- Avoid perfume or cologne
- Avoid distracting jewelry
- Speak clearly so you are easily understood
- Pay attention to your nonverbal communication: posture, poise, eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and personal space
- Additional copies of your resume
- A black pen
- A reference list
- A set of job-related questions to ask the interviewer
- Breath mints (not gum)
- Honestly assess your skills and experience. What sets you apart from your competition?
- Display a positive, sincere, and enthusiastic attitude that reflects what YOU can do for the employer
- Plan ahead and arrive at least 10–15 minutes early
- Listen fully and completely to questions; formulate your response before starting to speak
- Prepare a closing review of your fit to the job
- Don’t ask about salary and benefits, until you are offered the position
- Don’t give repetitive examples or embellish your answers
- Don’t address the interviewer by first name (unless/until invited to do so)
- Don’t bring your cell phone into interview
- Do not ramble or give negative information
- Do not be (or appear) aloof or indifferent
- Do not be abrupt, rude, or impolite to anyone
- Do not criticize a former employer or professor
Thank you letters are one of the most important and least-used tools in a job search. Always send a thank you letter (a formal e-mail is fine) to everyone who interviewed you. The letter/e-mail should go out within 24 hours after the interview. Thank you letters serve many purposes in the job application process: expressing your appreciation, reiterating your interest in the position, and reemphasizing your skills and strongest qualifications.
See the thank you letter template for more information on writing thank you letters.