People waiting for an interview

First Steps

The interview levels the playing field: no matter where you went to school, what your GPA was or how much experience you have, all applicants must interview successfully to get the job. Interviews are the time not simply to tell what you’ve done, but to sell what you’ve accomplished.

  • Things to Consider
    • Prepare: Research the company before the interview and be ready for the question “What do you know about our organization?”
    • Practice: Prepare a list of accomplishments and skills relevant to the job that you want to emphasize during the interview. Consider doing a mock interview to help with nerves.
    • Follow-up: Sending a thank-you note after the interview is not only common courtesy, it’s another opportunity to market yourself.

  • Common Reasons Why Job Seekers Fail the Interview
    • Poor personal appearance
    • Lack of interest and enthusiasm
    • Show up late to the interview 
    • Don’t ask questions about the position or company
    • Overbearing
    • Inability to clearly express themselves
    • Know nothing about the company
    • Sweaty palms
    • Overemphasis on salary and benefits
    • Poor eye contact during the interview
    • Talk too much

  • Interview Preparation
    • Research the company you are interviewing with
    • Arrive 10-15 minutes early to the interview
    • Dress appropriately. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
    • Have copies of your cover letter, resume, and references on hand
    • Practice responding to sample questions before the interview
    • Maintain a positive attitude
    • Have a list of questions that you want to ask the interviewer
    • Show them that you have done research and how you can contribute
    • Practice by meeting with a career advisor to prepare

  • After the Interview
    After you leave the interview, it is essential to reflect on your performance. Answers to these questions will inform your thank-you note as well as future interview performance:

    • Did you become comfortable in the interview? 
    • Which questions could you have better answered? 
    • Where did you succeed? Where did you fail? 
    • Which topics led to awkward silences? 
    • Did you emphasize your understanding of the connection between the organization’s needs and your skills and experiences? 
    • Did the interviewer ask questions for which you were not prepared? 
    • Did you understand and address the interviewer’s concerns about your candidacy? 
    • Did you forget to ask any questions about the job or organization that would inform your decision should the job be offered to you? 
    • What would you do differently next time? 

    Within 48 hours after an interview, you should write a thank-you letter to the interviewer(s). Thank-you letters should express gratitude for the interview opportunity, comment on some positive encounter or comment of the interviewer, and reconfirm your interest in the company. 

    If you do not hear from the interviewer by the time he or she indicated, or within a reasonable amount of time from your interview (1-2 weeks), you should call or e-mail the interviewer to inquire about the status of the hiring process. If a decision has not been made, ask the interviewer when he or she believes it will be made. If you have another job offer but would like to know about this interview outcome before making a decision, tell the interviewer. It may speed up the process.