Interview Skills

Office of Career Development

Know Yourself

  • Identify your strengths, values, interests, skills, goals, accomplishments, etc.
  • Prepare your materials: resumes, references, transcripts, supplemental materials.
  • Prepare your interview attire. See the Dress for Success Page.
  • Practice! Do a Mock Interview with OptimalInterview.

Know the Employer

  • Research the organization on the web
  • Talk with faculty, alumni, other employees, etc.
  • Find out information on:
    • Ownership
    • Leadership
    • Products
    • Services
    • New projects
    • Location of facilities
    • Headquarters locations
    • Recent market developments
    • Competitors
    • Growth patterns
    • Reputation
    • Size
    • International operations
    • Training
    • Evaluations
    • Etc.

Types of Interviews

  • Structured Interviews:
    Formal and direct; guided by the interviewer; questions are mostly job related.
  • Unstructured Interviews:
    Use open-ended questions; relaxed style conducive to shedding light on candidate's personality; be assertive and stay away from 2-3 word answers; provide examples.
  • Stress Interview:
    Sometimes used when job has strict guidelines; purposeful long gaps of silence; get candidate's true colors to show through.
  • Telephone Interview:
    Often used to narrow job pool; many times the interview is with a panel.
  • Group Interview:
    Several candidates are interviewed at the same time; sometimes used with large organizations that hire large numbers.
  • Panel Interview:
    More than one interviewer posing questions; many times there are set questions asked of all candidates; need to maintain eye contact with everyone.

  • Behavioral Interview:
    The most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation; employers predetermine which skills are necessary for the job; your responses need to be specific and detailed; always listen carefully to the questions and ask for clarification if necessary; your interview preparation should include identifying examples of situations where you have demonstrated behaviors.

Interview Structure

  • Make contact and establish rapport
  • Information gathering and giving:
    Candidate establishes qualifications and employer highlights opportunities.
  • Closing:
    Candidate asks employer questions; employer outlines next steps in process.
  • Administration:
    Interviewers complete notes; review of resumes, references, and interview evaluations.
  • Thank you letter:
    Candidate sends thank you letter immediately. (See sample Thank You Letters).

What Employers Look For

  • Academic Record:
    This is often an indicator of your motivation and work ethic.
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills:
    Can you get along with different types of personalities and communication effectively?
  • Leadership:
    Not afraid to assume responsibilities; can work with minimum supervision
  • Enthusiasm:
    Attitude and behavior; alert, responsive and energetic
  • Flexibility:
    Can expand and change with organization.
  • High Energy Level:
    Capable of handling multiple tasks; show commitment to job
  • Maturity:
    Do you know how to handle yourself in a leadership or difficult situation?
  • Special Qualities:
    What are your most marketable strengths?

Sample Interview Questions

Thank You Letters

Don’t forget to send your thank you letter within 24 hours of the interview. You may email your letter, but always follow-up with a hard copy in the mail.