Student Support

Before Your Interview

 

What you do before an interview is important. Just as you customized and reviewed your resume and cover letter before applying for the job, preparing and practicing prior to your interview will help you make a positive impression on the employer. Here are ways you can prepare and practice for your interview.

Do Your Research

Take the time to learn about the company or company you applied to and the people who might be interviewing you. See if you can identify the type of interview you are going to attend. If you have a contact who works for the employer, see if you are able to meet with him/her for an information interview. Try to identify what they’re looking for in a candidate, the purpose of the position, their target population, their goals, mission, values, needs, etc. If you are able to identify the people who you will be interviewing with, write down their names and research who these people are, their roles, background, and interests. Often times, you can find this information on the company’s website, LinkedIn, Google, etc. Be able to explain why you are interested in working for them and incorporate what you have learned about the company in your responses.  

Review Your Resume

Job seekers often forget about their resume once they submit a job application. Be prepared to discuss experiences and projects that you listed on your resume. Your resume should already be tailored to reflect that job description. 

Review the Job Description

Review the responsibilities and tasks listed on the job description.  Make sure you can match your experiences and skills to what's required. Many of the interview questions will be related to what is listed on the job description.

Brainstorm Possible Questions

Think of possible questions that might be asked of you and write the question and responses on a index card. Be able to talk about yourself and how you would make a great candidate for the job. This requires knowing the job description inside and out. Again, many of the interview questions will be related to what is listed on the job description. See interview questions about your skills, personal and career goals, or behavioral and situational interview questions and the STAR Method for more information. You also want to be prepared to ask the employer questions.  

Practice

Don’t just practice responding to questions in your head. Practice out loud. This is critical. Participate in a mock interview. Practice responding to interview questions with anyone in the field, schedule a mock interview appointment with the Career Services Center, other professionals, etc. Know your resume/portfolio well and be prepared to answer questions about them.  However, don’t over exhaust yourself. Make sure to also get some rest

Stay Up-to-Date

Read the newspaper, check the internet, read articles related to the company's industry. You may be surprised with ice breaking small talk about current trends and/or events.

Notify Your References

If you haven't done so recently, you will want to inform your references that you have been offered an interview for a job and they might receive a call or email from the prospective employer. Let your references know who might be calling them, what job you are applying to, a copy of the job description, and any points you want them to stress in their recommendation of you.

Think Safety

It is important to think about your safety and protecting yourself during the interview process. Trust your instincts and if you feel uncomfortable, express your thoughts or find a reason to leave. Never feel obligated. Avoid the risk and think safety with our information on Interview Safety and Employer Scams.

Dress Professionally

Plan your interview attire at least a day before your interview. Consider the company’s culture when dressing for an interview. In general, be conservative with your choice of clothing, accessories, hair style, make-up and jewelry. Examples of outfits include dress pants, dress shirt, tie, sport coat, business dress, skirt and blazer. Avoid wearing sneakers/tennis shows, workout gear, ultra-high heels or flip flops/sandals. Engage in good hygiene practices prior to your interview. Look neat and be clean and well-groomed. It is also important to be cognizant that some people are sensitive to different and/or strong scents/perfumes/colognes. Do not smoke or chew gum. Cover tattoos and any unprofessional piercings. 

Bring these Items

Bring your state issued driver's license/ID, extra copies of your resume, your portfolio (if you have one), a notepad with some questions prepared for the interview as well as if you need to take any quick notes, a pen, your list of references, notes with talking points or examples of your experiences, any materials requested by the employer, and a positive attitude. Make sure you have cash (dollars, coins and card) to pay for parking. Depending on where you park, you may only have access to using one form of payment. It is also important to bring the contact information of the person interviewing you and/or the main office information and the address/directions of where you are going. 

Know Where You are Going

Ideally, you want to know where you are going before the day of your interview. Drive by the location of your interview before the day of your interview. Identify places to park. If
possible visit the location of your interview during the same time of day so you can see what the traffic is like. Do not be late to your interview. 

Arrive Early

Always give yourself extra time. You don’t want to be late because of unexpected traffic, street closures and/or traffic accidents. Plan to arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes early to give yourself a buffer and to use the restroom. Arriving early will allow you some time to remove animal hair, shoulder flakes, check for static, wash clammy hands, etc. Consider checking in only 5 to 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time. Leave your coffee or soda in the car.


Additional Resources

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