Focus, preparation and practice are key to making a good impression during an interview. Chances of being successful in obtaining the position or opportunity are slim to none if you cannot professionally articulate what you want and how you fit with the organization BEFORE going in to the interview.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Investigate and research the company and the position. If you are asked what you know about the company, you want to be prepared and capable of responding in a knowledgeable manner.
- Create a profile of the position for which you are interviewing and familiarize yourself with your skills and experience. Take an inventory of your skills, abilities, personal attributes, experience and education. Prepare by listing activities you have done (past jobs, volunteer work, academic projects, community involvements, etc.). Consider the skills and abilities your have developed as well as situations you have encountered. List several of your strongest skills with examples of how you have demonstrated each of them. Also, review your resume!
- Prepare for typical interview questions. If you are unable to answer professionally and concisely some of the more typical interview questions, you will present as extremely unprepared. A few examples of typical interview questions are: Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years? To review some of these questions on our organizational research page.
- Compile your relevant information. Bring extra copies of your resume, your references and/or reference list, phone numbers, transcripts (if required), samples of your work, portfolio, any other application materials the employer might request.
- Contact your references. It is professional, courteous and your responsiblity as a job seeker to make your references aware of the organizations with which you have applied AND for which your references were listed.
- Find the location and parking for the interview at least a day before. To ensure promptness, arrive for the interview early (at least 10 minutes) but don’t go into the office until approximately 5 minutes before the interview. Otherwise, you may make the interviewer feel rushed.
- Dress to impress. You only get one chance to make a good first impression! Be certain that your suit is ready to go - pressed, clean and neat! For help on what to wear, visit our interview attire page.
- Confirm the logistics and details and review. Double-check the date and time of the interview and know the interviewer's name and title. Review the types of interviews, write out your answers to some of the more typical interview questions and know what the interviewer is attempting to harness by utilizing behavioral interviewing techniques.
- Prepare and review your resume and portfolio. You should have specific examples to discuss in response to many of the interview questions that will be asked of you. When interviewing, you should be an expert on your past experiences and there should be no disparities between what you say you know and what your resume says you know. Review the responsibilities and your achievements for all your work, volunteer, internship and academic experiences.
- Based on your research, write out the questions you would like to ask of the employer. At the end of a typical interview, the interviewee is prompted to ask questions of the employer. IT IS EXPECTED that you will have relevant questions to ask about the organization and position. Prepare these ahead of time and have them written out in your portfolio ready to go. It is generally recommended to have between 3-5 questions prepared. In the event that the interviewer has answered some of your questions, it would be best to have between 8 and 10!
PREPARE. PRACTICE. POLISH. REPEAT!
Next, learn what to do during a job interview.