Interviewing Skills

If you are invited for an interview, you are already seen as a qualified candidate, so the interview is your chance to further convince an employer that you would be a valuable asset to the organization. Interviewing is a two-way street: a mutual exchange of information to determine whether values and goals align between you and the employer for your current pursuits.

Download our Interview Guide [PDF] to learn more!

Research, preparation, and practice are key to a successful outcome.

Know as much as you can about the company you are interviewing with. Go beyond the “basics” by researching the following and reflecting on how what you discover aligns with your values and goals at this time in the process:

  • Trends, established products, and services
  • Mission and achievements
  • Organizational structure and culture
  • History, competition, and future outlook

Make a bridge between you and the employer. What are they looking for and how do you connect with that? What types of things are mentioned in the job description? How have you demonstrated those skills?

Think of examples from your history to illustrate your qualifications: this will prepare you for Behavioral Questions (review this overview from The Muse on such question types) that employers often ask to learn about how you responded in different employment situations to gauge how you would approach new projects and/or challenges in the future.

Be sure to look up our sample questions for interviews, too. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to leverage them strategically based on your goals, experiences, and qualifications for the role.

Whether your interview is on the phone, via Skype, video, in person and live (synchronous) or pre-recorded via a virtual platform (asynchronous), our office is here to help!

Schedule a one on one appointment with a career advisor through Handshake.

You may use this time to go over the steps to prepare for an interview, review sample interview questions or platforms, and/or you may practice a simulated interview. To learn more about different types of interviews, in person or remote, refer to the articles below:

The more you tell your story and become familiar with questions that could potentially be asked in a variety of formats and settings, the more comfortable and organized you will be.

Make sure you know where the interview is taking place in advance. Plan your route and method of travel and keep things like traffic and delays in mind to prevent being rushed. Arrive about 10 minutes early.

Be courteous to everyone you encounter during the interview process as all individuals are potential colleagues!

Most industries will anticipate business professional or business casual attire, which may include but is not limited to suits, dress pants, khakis, dresses, blouses or collared shirts, skirts, blazers and cardigans. Bring a portfolio with extra copies of your resume and/or cover letter. Ensure that whatever you wear helps you embody confidence, focus, and career readiness.

Be engaged in a two-way conversation with the interviewer. Express your enthusiasm for the position and listen carefully to the employer. Speak clearly and intentionally but not too quickly. It is okay to take time to think before you answer. Be positive as you describe your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. In addressing challenges you may have faced previously, reflect on how you grew from those experiences personally and/or professionally. Be sure to answer the question fully and provide an example or explanation to support your answers: context is key as every lived experience varies!

Demonstrate that you have been thoughtful about the process of interviewing by asking questions that reflect your knowledge of the field and/or position. Avoid asking questions about salary, vacation, or other benefits in a first round of interviewing so that you can focus more on your skills and qualifications as well as the mission of the organization and whether they are a fit for your needs, too.

Regarding salary and benefits such as time off, retirement, and life or health insurances, you can search the organization’s “Human Resources” or “Benefits” pages as well as consult databases such as glassdoor to search for some national benchmarks. Generally, the company should bring up salary first, but you will get an opportunity to negotiate in later stages of the interview. Also avoid questions that can be easily answered by the organization’s webpage to exemplify your due diligence in studying the organization ahead of time. By the end of the interview, you may also inquire about next steps in the employer’s timeline. Read through our sample questions here.

Send either an emailed or written thank-you note to all individuals you interviewed with. Ask for business cards while at the interview to collect contact details. Then, whether you mail your thank-you note or email it is up to you, but it is important the message is received within 1-2 days so that employers know your continued interest. As a result, if you choose to mail it in, please send the thank-you card right after the interview so that it is delivered in this timely manner. Mention something that you found particularly interesting or that you appreciated learning while reiterating how you believe you could further enhance their organizational culture. Personalizing thank-you notes goes a long way as it reinforces connection. Feel free to also follow up with any questions or information you did not feel you answered sufficiently.

Is this a place you think you would enjoy working? Do you feel comfortable in the environment? Remember, part of an interview is also deciding if this is the type of position you would accept given your needs and priorities in the moment. Prove that you have been thoughtful about the process of interviewing by asking questions that reflect your knowledge of the field and position but also enable you to learn what you need about the culture and organization. Consult the National Association of Colleges and Employers list of questions you may use to reflect on and/or ask employers to assess their organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

To learn from one of our previous workshops on interviewing, review the video below: