Interviewing is Key:
"Recruiters only spend an average of six seconds looking at a candidate's résumé. Congratulations, you have made it past the first six seconds. How do you now separate yourself from the other candidates?" —Alyson Davis, University Relations Specialist, LORD Corporation
DO RESEARCH! Research everything about the company, its current projects, its competitors, and the interviewer.
- Review interview types and practice answers to interview questions.
- Practice interviewing: online with Interview Prep or in-person at Career Services with a Mock Interview
- Dress appropriately. Use minimal/no cologne/perfume.
- Avoid smoking before, and chewing gum, mints, or cough drops during.
- Bring extra résumés (and your career portfolio if appropriate).
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
- Read company materials or review positive experiences from your résumé.
- When the interviewer comes to get you, stand up, smile, and introduce yourself in a positive, courteous manner, and give a firm handshake (without crushing the interviewer's hand).
- Convey optimism and enthusiasm, especially during the informal conversation on the way to the interview room. Many employers form a lasting first impression from the way you act during the first five minutes.
- Make good eye contact without staring at the interviewer.
- Use the interviewer's name (use Mr. or Ms. and Last Name) during the interview.
- Listen to how you speak (not too quickly or slowly). Do not ramble or mumble. Use good grammar. Always say "yes," never say "yeah" or "yup," and try to avoid "uh" and "um."
- Give nonverbal feedback to the interviewer; smile, nod, and look like a strong candidate.
- Do not put materials on the interviewer's desk unless you are showing an example from your portfolio.
- Be honest and brief when answering questions, but provide enough detail to support your answer. Some interviewers say candidates can undersell themselves by being too brief.
- Answer negative questions with positive points.
- Use action words to describe KSAAs. Give detailed examples.
- Be a STAR—Situation, Task, Action, Results. Some employers use behavioral interviewing, e.g., "Tell me about a time when you led a team." They want a specific example. In answering any question, using STAR examples is much stronger; think to yourself, "Let me tell you about a time when I…."
- Ask questions that can't be answered by the organization's website. Write out several in advance in case some are answered during the interview. Start with position responsibilities and advancement opportunities; ask questions that would benefit the company.
- Ask about next steps, decision dates, permission to contact the interviewer, and phone or email preference.
- Write your thank you letters/emails to all involved in the actual interviewing process; send within 24-48 hours and briefly re-emphasize your strengths and highlight your qualifications.
- Evaluate the interview and debrief yourself; keep notes in an Excel file by company for future interviews.
- Review an interview evaluation (for OCI positions) with Career Services and/or do more mock interviews.
- FOLLOW UP! At three to five days after their stated decision date, contact the representative about your status. Plan your contact ahead of time to market yourself effectively while making your call/email brief and concise.
Adapted from NACE Job Choices, interviewing articles, and Career Services employer feedback.