Interviews are a two-way street. Not only do they provide the opportunity for you to present your background and experiences but give you the ability to evaluate a potential supervisor and work environment. There are various formats depending on the type of interview and its purpose. You may be participating in an informational interview with one of your contacts or in the final stages with an employer. No matter what the scenario is, it is important to be prepared and polished.
Preparing for the Interview
You wouldn't show up for your final exam without studying what you’ll be tested on, correct? The same applies in interviewing as an unprepared interviewee can ruin their chances of landing a position. To help you put your best foot forward we offer the following advice:
- Review the job description and research the organization in detail to understand what they are looking for.
- Reflect on what you bring to the position, reviewing your application materials and why you want this position.
- Know the interview logistics, plan ahead for commute time and interview attire
- Practice telling relevant stories and prepare your own questions.
- Dress for the dream you want!
Interview Don'ts: Tips & Situations To Avoid
Navigating the InterviewYour interview begins right when you walk in the door. Be sure you are cordial and courteous to everyone you meet and interact with as first impressions are lasting ones. During the interview, you will want to provide a brief introduction about yourself, be prepared to answer questions about your skills, background and strengths, and have questions available to gain further insight and information into the role.
Asking and Responding to Questions
Question TypesTraditional questions that you may encounter are in the following categories:
- General (who you are, your interest in the position, your background)
- Behavioral (skill focused: examples of things that you have done)
- Review the STAR technique below for help answering behavioral questions
- Case (how you would approach a situation or problem)
- Case interviews are most often utilized in the consulting industry. Review the resources below on how to prepare for these specific types of questions
The STAR TechniqueThis technique provides a strategic framework to share concrete examples.
- S = Situation — a brief setup of the situation you are going to talk about
- T = Task — an explanation of the task you had to complete or problem you had to solve
- A = Action(s) — specific/detailed actions you took, focusing on the skills you used in this situation
- R = Result — positive outcome from the example you shared; how did things turn out?
Questions to AskYou will be expected to have questions at the end of the interview. Make sure that your questions:
- Relate to the position and the organization/industry
- Are appropriate to the interviewer’s level and position in the organization
- Express your research and interest for the position/organization
Sample Interview Questions
Post-InterviewSend a thank you note within 24–48 hours of your interview. This is a critical opportunity to restate your interest and qualifications that set you apart from other candidates.
- Be brief. A few paragraphs at most.
- Use formal language. Avoid slang or casual phrases.
- Be customized to the interview(er). Reference something from your conversation that was particularly helpful, meaningful, or interesting.
- Indicate next steps. If the person referred you to another friend or colleague, state your plan of action for contacting that person. If you plan to apply for a position after your interaction, indicate that, too.
- Be error-free. Watch out for grammar and spelling, especially people’s names and titles.
Informational interviews are a crucial and often overlooked aspect of networking. They are the best ways to find out about a type of occupation and make a contact. Informational interviews are person-to-person conversations that help you gain information, insight, and advice from people who are in the functional areas, industries, and companies that hold your interest.
The following is a list of sample questions you can ask during an informational interview: