Preparing for an Interview

The interview is the most significant part of the job search process. Because most of the candidates have similar academic backgrounds, the interview is used to assess candidate qualifications and overall fit within an organization to determine who will be extended a job offer. The interview process varies between industry and company, so it is important to conduct ample research and prepare thoroughly!

Best Practice Tip: Expand your research to include industry trends and current company news then schedule a mock interview with a Career Coach!

Candidates are frequently asked what they know about the company, why they would be a good fit for the position, and why they want to work for the company. Researching the company before the interview will help candidates answer these questions! Candidates who research beforehand appear to be more interested in the company and motivated to employers. Begin research using the organization’s website! The University Library offers several databases to assist with research, including LexisNexis, which provides an in depth report of many large organizations.

What to Look for While Researching:

  • What does the company provide? (product, clients, services)
  • What are the company’s core values, mission, and objective?
  • Who is the company’ major competitors?
  • What projects/initiatives is the company currently working on?
  • What is the relevant history of the organization?

Interview Questions

The STAR Method provides a logical, well-rounded approach on how to answer interview questions clearly and concisely to accurately verbalize a candidates organizational fit, skills, and qualifications. When preparing for an interview, practice answering commonly asked questions as well as conversational and behavioral interview questions.

Common Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What interests you most about this job?
  • Why did you choose your major/degree?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Tell me about a time when you managed a team project?
  • Give me an example of working with a difficult customer/client?
  • Give me an example of when you failed.
  • Tell me a time when you felt you like you were a success.
  • What is your greatest strength/weakness?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Tell me about a time when you exhibited leadership skills.

Ask Thoughtful Questions

There will often be times that candidates are asked to sit through multiple phases of an interview process for any given job. It is important to ask thoughtful questions during each phase so employers can gauge your interest, enthusiasm, and engagement for a job- it is also an opportunity to further highlight qualifications and relevant experience that may not have been asked about during the interview!

The most important communication during a job interview is non-verbal communication. This includes but is not limited to, overall body language, facial expressions, posture, and eye contact. Cues sent by non-verbal communication can supplement verbal communication when responding to questions or engaging in a conversation. These cues display a candidates confidence, enthusiasm, and qualifications for a job.

  • Hand Shake: When offered a handshake, firmly grasp the persons hand and make eye contact. Be mindful of whose hand you are shaking and to not grasp too tightly.
  • Posture: If there are several seating options to choose from, ask the interviewer for their preference of where to sit. Sit tall and straight while maintaining an appropriate, comfortable space from the interviewer (roughly three feet). Avoid defensive or arrogant postures such as your crossing arms or legs, and/or steepling your fingertips. Appear confident by keeping both feet on the ground or crossing your ankles and resting your hands in your lap.
  • Eye Contact: Staring at the interviewer is not appropriate, and avoiding eye contact, especially while answering a question, can convey dishonesty. Create a balance by periodically looking away or by scanning the room if interviewing with a panel.
  • Facial Expressions: Show engagement with actively listening by nodding when appropriate, eye contact, and showing interest with facial features.

Best Practice Tip: Gain self-awareness with non-verbal communication by participating in a Mock Interview with a Career Coach, friend, or family member and use the feedback to improve, and/or record your mock interview to gather your own feedback to improve upon. Ask your mock interview partner to ask you tough questions that could potentially make you nervous and susceptible to bad body language to take notice of what you do unconsciously under pressure. Habits such nail biting, hair twirling, shaking your leg, and/or fidgeting with a pen can distract the interviewer and convey nervousness and insecurity.

Dressing for Interview Success

After securing a job and learn what the standard “uniform” is for the company, you can begin to expand your workplace wardrobe. However, for the purpose of interviewing, it is better to overdress than underdress to make a good first impression on the employer (even if the interview is conducted virtually)! This conveys your seriousness of the opportunity, and shows the employer how you would be a reflection of the company as an employee.

Best Practice Tips: Go for quality over quantity if purchasing an outfit for interviewing. For variety within a limited budget, consider varying your shirt/blouse/tie/accessories with a suit as a simple way to change your look. Be mindful of potential allergies and avoid wearing excessive perfume/cologne!

The Walton College Career Closet provides professional attire at no cost to Walton students for interviews, career fairs, business meetings, and more!

A ‘Thank You’ email should be sent within 24 hours to your contact person at the company who coordinated your interview, as well as the interviewer(s). You can also send a handwritten and mailed letter, but email will ensure timely delivery.

Sample “Thank You” Letter