Interview Basics

If you've never been on a professional interview, you might feel pretty nervous and unsure of what to expect. And even if you're a seasoned interviewer, you probably still have some uncertainty and could benefit from freshening up on your skills. As with everything else, when it comes to interviewing, practice makes perfect.

Before the interview, it's important to do four things:

  1. Research the company.
  2. Practice and prepare questions.
  3. Review your image.
  4. Know the logistics (think location, time, and dress code).

During the Interview

When you meet with your interviewer or interviewers, firmly shake their hands and introduce yourself if you have previously not met. Also, make eye contact—and if you have a panel interview (more than one interviewer), make a special effort to make eye contact with everyone throughout the interview. This will show that you are engaging with each individual in the room. More importantly, don't forget to smile!

 Practice Answering Questions

This cannot be stressed enough: In order to do well, you must practice your answers to questions. There is not guarantee that the questions you are reviewing will be asked in the interview but practicing allows you to gain confidence with organizing and communicating responses, and it's likely that similar questions will be asked, even if the wording is different.

 General Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself (similar to an elevator speech).
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • Describe three things that motivate you.
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Why are you the best person for this job?
  • What experiences have prepared you for this position?

Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you resolved a conflict within a team.
  • Tell me about a time when you dealt with an angry customer or client.
  • Describe a situation in which you demonstrated your analytical skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure.
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you had to make.
  • How should you answer questions?

In general, you should answer each question in 1-2 minutes. Practice being concise and not being too chatty, but also make sure you're answering all parts of the question and providing enough information.

STAR is a great acronym to use when answering behavioral interview questions. In general, it helps you format your answers easily so that you're answering all parts of the question and providing sufficient information.

  • Situation: Describe the specific situation, and make sure you provide enough detail for your interviewer(s) to fully understand. This situation can be taken from your current job, or any previous jobs, internships, or volunteer experiences.
  • Task: What was the task or goal you had to complete?
  • Action you took: What did you do to change/address the situation? What specific steps did you take? Remember to focus on yourself and not the work of team members. Use the word "I", rather than "we." What did you do?
  • Result you achieved: What were the outcomes of your actions? What happened, and what did you learn or take away from it?

Know the Logistics

Sometimes the excitement of the big interview can lend itself to forgetting other important details—where to be, when, and how to get there!  Don't overlook these specifics, as they can also make or break an interview. Always make sure you confirm the interview time and location of a particular company with the recruiter or point of contact. Also, always give yourself at least a 30 minute time buffer before your interview. Ideally, you should walk into the building 15 minutes early, which is early enough to show promptness but does not make the interviewer feel rushed.

For more interview tips and information, we recommend the following resources: