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What do I have to do to prepare for an interview?












It is very important to research the prospective company or organization. This important step is often overlooked and, according to employers, is one of the primary reasons candidates are rejected. It is not unusual for a hiring manager to ask any or all of the following questions in an interview:

  •  What do you know about our company?
  •  Why do you think you would be a good match for our company?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  •  What do you know about our products, the industry and our competitors?
How do I get ready on the day of my interview?
  • Proofread and print copies of resumes and references. Be prepared with several copies of both.
  • Bring all the information necessary to fill out an application, if you haven’t done so already.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  • Get directions to the interview location and map your route. You may want to make a dry run to make sure you arrive in plenty of time.
  • Bring a small portfolio or briefcase with note pad and pencil to jot down important information before and during interview.
  •  Lay out interview suit and make sure accessories are appropriate.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early for your appointment.
What can I do about being nervous about interviewing?

Practice, Practice, Practice!  Over-prepare answers to common interview questions. Know your strengths, weaknesses, why you want to work for the company, and the answer to ‘tell me about yourself’ by heart. But don’t sound rehearsed.

Videotape yourself or practice with a friend to get comfortable with your answers and to assess non-verbal communication cues. Practice handshake and appropriate eye contact.

Practice difficult questions and behavioral interview questions to prepare answers ahead of time.

How should I dress for an interview?

Even if the department is casual, you should dress in professional business attire for an interview. Dressing professionally will always make a good first impression—and anything else is a risk. Be sure to choose clothes and shoes that are both comfortable and make you feel good, as uncomfortable clothing may be distracting and affect your interview performance.

What is informational interviewing?

Informational Interviewing is a technique for acquiring information through discussion with a person in a given job/career field. It is a managed approach to explore possibilities, locate the hidden job market and develop a network.

What are some appropriate questions to ask at an informational interview?
  • Name, title and place of employment of interviewee.
  • What is your job title and what are the other job titles for someone who does this work in your organization?
  • What are your job duties and responsibilities?
  • Describe how you spend your time during a typical work week (e.g. meetings with coworkers/customers, working alone, working with others, analyzing data, etc.)
  • What skills and talents are most important in this occupation?

  • What education, training, or other preparation do you feel would be important if I want to work in this field?
  • What kinds of experiences, paid employment or otherwise, would you recommend as a way to test out this occupation?
  • What are the toughest challenges you face?
  • What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
  • What is the outlook for this occupation in the future at your company? In the industry itself?
  • What is the salary range for this occupation?
  • What is the "culture" in your department/organization?
  • What obligation does your work entail outside of the ordinary workweek? Do you enjoy these obligations?
  • If you could begin your career again, what would you do differently? The same?
  • What type of position would be appropriate in your organization for someone with my background and experience?
  • Who else could you suggest I interview (name, title, company, phone number) to get another perspective on this occupation (different company, industry, etc.)?
Do I have to send a thank you note after an interview?

Yes, be sure to send a thank you note to the interviewer within 48 hours of your interview.  This added touch will demonstrate to the employer that you are interested in the position and sets you apart from the other candidates. You should send a formal letter via mail or through e-mail if that is how you have corresponded with the organization.  The letter should include your desire for the position and mention something from the interview that impressed you about the company or the job.

What should I include in the thank you note?
  • Make it short! Lengthy, flowery notes will not endear you to the employer and may be perceived as an attempt to “kiss up” to the person who receives it.
  • Address the note to the person who will be most involved in the selection decision. (Note: Ask for business cards during the interview and/or make notes about the spelling of this person’s name and correct title! You must spell the name of the organization correctly as well.)
  • Use the note to confirm your serious interest in and/or qualifications for the position. Include:
    Detail relevant knowledge or experience to the position that was not covered or expanded upon in your interview or on your resume.
    Mention people who were especially helpful during your interview.
    Reaffirm your excitement about this opportunity.
  • Use businesslike stationery or notepaper. You may type the note or hand write it (only if your handwriting is neat and legible).
  • Maintain a professional tone in the note, no matter how friendly a relationship you feel you have developed with the person to whom you are writing. The note will probably become part of your personnel file and be read by others.
  • Organize your note. A suggested format:
    1st paragraph: Express your appreciation (for the interview, for the opportunity to discuss the position at the career fair, etc.). Mention the date of the contact.
    2nd paragraph: Personalize it! For example: mention something that you learned that enhanced your interest in the position or a skill or experience that you were not able to discuss during your contact. Or, mention a person who was especially helpful and tell your reader why.
    3rd paragraph: Reaffirm your interest in the position. Tell the employer that you look forward to hearing from them.
  • Send your thank-you note as soon as possible after the contact. If your note arrives after the decision has been made, it will have little impact.
Is it ok to ask about salary at the interview?
Never bring up salary in the first interview. However, if the employer asks, "What salary are you looking for?” you should be prepared.
  • Know what the salary range is in similar position.
  • Be realistic and respond with a range, ($30,000 - $35,000) rather than a specific number.
  • Mention the range you have identified through your research and ask if that is consistent with this employer's view of the values of this position.
What hints can you give me for an effective telephone interview?
The goal of a telephone interview is to get a face to face interview.
  • Who calls who? Employers often prefer to call candidates at their convenience, but employers may ask a candidate to call them to test how serious they are.
  • Candidate calls employer by first or last name?: This is up to the candidate and their comfort level, but calling an employer by their first name can break down barriers, but is NOT a 100% rule.
  • Stand when on phone: This common technique allows your voice to project and sound more confident. Insure you are in a location where you will have no distractions. If you can have a mirror to look in, use it. Your facial expressions will reflect through your voice. If you are smiling, you will sound interested. If you are frowning, you will sound disinterested.
  • Be Up, enthusiastic: You are only a resume, a piece of paper, to the potential employer. They likely have many resumes. Your enthusiasm/energy must stand out, but don't sound phony.
  • Speak clearly and slowly: Many people get very nervous during telephone interviews and may have a tendency to mumble into the phone. Relax, speak slowly. Do not sound rushed or anxious.
  • Make preparation notes (questions): But do not write a script for the interview, just speak freely from your notes. See "Questions to ask" for further insights.
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Last Updated: Sept. 13, 2006