Interviewing Samples (PDFs)
There are several types of interviews. The most common types are formal job and internship interviews. Click on the links below to learn more about the other types of interviews. Career counselors are available to assist you with interview skills and preparation.
Think of a job interview as an audition for a part in a play – and just as with an audition, preparation is the key to success.
Research the Organization and the Role
- Read as much as you can about the organization. Become familiar with their website, and read whatever information you can abou them including magazine and newspaper articles and blogs.
- Read about the industry – know the trends, directions, challenges it faces.
- Read as much as you can about the role – know the job functions and responsibilities.
- Talk to as many people as you can who either work at the organization or have worked there. Learn about the culture (for example, is it a business formal or business casual environment) and, if possible, their interviewing style and process.
Practice Common Interview Questions
There are certain interview questions that you will invariably be asked, so prepare and practice your answers in advance.
“Tell me about yourself and why you want to work here?”
You will almost certainly be asked a version of this question. Prepare and practice an answer that is no longer than two minutes. Break your answer down to three components:
- Who you are and what you are looking for
- Your professional strengths/accomplishments
- Why you are interested in the job/organization
Behavioral interview questions
You will also be asked to talk about your experience and how it relates to the skills/traits the employer is looking for. To prepare for these types of questions, review the job description and circle the five or six most important skills/traits mentioned. Then match each skill/trait with an example from your past that demonstrates that skill or trait. Structure your answer in three parts: (think CAR – context, action, result):
- Context – what was the context or situation in which you were required to act?
- Action – what did you do? How did you do it – be specific (this is the bulk of the answer)
- Result – what was the result? The outcome? To whatever extent possible, try to quantify the result (e.g., "As a result of the advertising campaign I created, sales of the product rose 15%.")
Types of questions
- Regardless of the job description, know your three or four strongest accomplishments/strengths. Prepare compelling “CARs” to organize this information, and convey it in every interview – even if not directly asked (you can add this information at the interview's conclusion when asked, “What else would you like me to know about you?")
- Be prepared for the tough questions. Put yourself in the interviewer's shoes and anticipate the concerns and questions that he/she will have, and then prepare non-defensive answers to those questions (and practice delivering them). For example, if you were laid off, be prepared to speak very “matter-of-factly” about the experience (e.g., "I was a casualty of the 2nd round of downsizing my company faced.").
- If the interviewer asks you about compensation, try to deflect and delay that conversation until later in the process. You can defer the topic with a response such as: “I’d like to get a get a better sense of the position and my fit within the organization before talking about compensation.”
Dress the Part
It’s been said that you have only about 20 seconds to make a first impression. So be sure that your grooming and attire send the right message.
Always show up to an interview well groomed and be sure to dress appropriately. By doing your research in advance, you will have learned the culture of the organization, and the dress code. For an interview, dress “one notch” more conservatively than the dress code. For example, if the interview is with Abercrombie & Fitch, do not show up in a three-piece suit, but do choose jeans and a blazer rather than cut-off shorts and a tee-shirt.
In general, it is best to err on the side of dressing conservatively. When in doubt, leave it (the item of clothing, jewelry, cologne, etc.) out.
The Interview Itself
- Bring a copy of your resume with you.
- Be sure to stand tall, make eye contact, smile, and give a firm handshake when you are first introduced to your interviewer.
- Try to establish a sense of rapport with the interviewer – remember that you both want the same thing: to see if the position is a good match for you.
- Be positive and enthusiastic; make sure to communicate how excited you are about the opportunity to speak with them about the position.
- Take your time when answering questions. Pause a few seconds after being asked questions to collect your thoughts and take your time while speaking, resisting the tendency to speak quickly when anxious.
- Do not trash a previous employer. Even if your experience with that exployer was not positive, try to find something positive to say about it.
- Prepare a few questions to ask the interviewer. Your questions give you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the organization. Try to come up with “Macro” questions about the industry, organization, etc., as well as “Micro” questions about the interviewer’s career path, day, etc.
Prospective employers are prohibited, by State and Federal laws, from asking certain questions that are not related to the job for which they are hiring. For example, prospective employers should not be asking personal questions, i.e., questions relating to your race, gender, marital status, age, religion, ethnic background, disabilities, or sexual preference. View illegal interview question samples (PDF) along with related questions that are legal, and a discussion of how to answer them.
In the event you feel an employer has exhibited inappropriate interview conduct, please contact UCS at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note the situation will be kept confidential and the employer will only be contacted with your permission.
Be sure to send a thank you email/note.