Yale Undegraduate Career Services

Interviewing

Congratulations! The countless hours you spent polishing your résumé and writing a tailored cover letter have paid off! Your target employer is interested in learning more about you and has scheduled an interview. You’ve got their attention, now how do you keep their attention and land the job or internship?

Below you’ll find quick tips on interviewing. In addition, we recommend reviewing our Interviewing Guidebook, attending one of our Interviewing Skills workshops, and viewing our online Interviewing Skills Workshop and Panel. You can also schedule a practice interview with a UCS Career Adviser.

Interviewing Skills Workshop

Interviewing Skills Workshop

This presentation provides advice to applicants for internships and post-graduate employment. Watch the interviewing presentation.

 

Interview Skills Panel

Interviewing Skills Panel

Representatives from Bain & Company, Google, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Teach For America (TFA) discuss interviewing tips, and answer student questions about how to ace an interview. Watch the panel.

Preparation

Interviewing is a skill. Like all skills, it can take time to build up your proficiency.  The more time you spend practicing for interviews the more comfortable you’ll be when it’s time to shine.  

In addition to practice, thoughtful and thorough preparation is necessary. Begin your preparation by focusing on the areas outlined below.

  • Research the organization and the role, reflect on their needs, how your background fits and what you can contribute to the organization and the position
  • Reflect on your skills relevant to the role and prepare thoughtful answers and examples you can use to answer questions on your qualifications
  • Practice general and behavioral interview questions
  • Prepare and practice telling your story
  • Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses
  • Prepare questions for them

Professional Presentation

You can have stellar answers to the questions being asked, but if you are dressed inappropriately or unprofessionally, if every other word is “um” or if you’re staring at the ceiling as you’re talking, you may not make it to the next round. The verbal and non-verbal messages you send to an interviewer matter. The quick tips below will help you make that positive first impression and avoid behaviors that can ruin the professional presentation you’re aiming for.

  • Dress the part! You only have one chance to make a first impression; make sure your attire sends the right message and is appropriate for the field in which you’re interviewing
  • Bring extra copies of your résumé, along with your questions for the interviewer(s), in a professional portfolio
  • Practice your handshake to make sure you’re comfortable and confident when engaging in this common greeting
  • Eye contact, posture and body language play an important part in interviewing and send important messages on your confidence and comfort. Make sure you are sitting up straight, making regular eye contact with all interviewers, and avoiding wild gestures.
  • Filler words such as “um,” “like,” and “you know” are distracting and take away from the confident, polished communication skills you’re trying to demonstrate to a future employer; avoid using these words in an interview
  • Avoid chewing gum during an interview
  • Turn off your cell phone before you go into your interview

Follow-Up

Just as important as what you do during an interview is what you do afterwards.  Avoid common blunders and take time to learn from each interview you have.

  • Thank you notes are essential after an interview. Send one to everyone you speak with during the process.  Failure to do so indicates disinterest in the opportunity and may be viewed as a lack of professional courtesy.
  • At the end of the interview, ask about the hiring timeline and next steps. This will give insight as to when it will be appropriate for you to reach back out and inquire as to the status of your candidacy.
  • After the interview, reflect on what went well, and on any questions you struggled with. Part of enhancing your interview skills is practicing challenging questions so that you’re prepared if you are asked a similar question in the future.

Accepting, Declining and Reneging on Offers

Understanding the process, etiquette and professional conduct that surrounds receiving, accepting, and declining offers is essential to assure you avoid missteps, burning bridges and what may be considered unethical and unprofessional actions.

  • Once you receive an offer, take time to thoroughly evaluate it and decide whether or not the opportunity is right for you. Communicate your decision to your employer verbally and in writing, and do so in a timely manner.
  • Once you accept an offer of employment, whether it be for a full-time job or an internship, withdraw all other applications. It is seen as unprofessional and unethical to continue applying and interviewing for opportunities after you’ve already committed to an employer. 
  • UCS considers reneging on a job offer to be a very serious offense, as it damages relationships with employers and has a lasting effect on all Yale students. In accordance with the seriousness of reneging, it is our policy that first years, sophomores, and juniors who accept an offer and then renege on their acceptance will lose access to on-campus recruiting and potentially other UCS services as well. Seniors who accept an offer and then renege on their acceptance will lose access to on-campus recruiting and to all alumni UCS services (job search assistance, graduate and professional school advising) as well.