Interview Tips


What is the purpose of an interview? The purpose is for the employer and the candidate to meet and discuss the job. The interviewer will gather additional information about the prospective employee (you), assess how well your qualifications and the job match, and decide whether you will fit into the organization and will work well with the other staff members. The interview is also a time to gather additional information about the job, organization, and staff. You will be deciding if the job is a close match to what you are looking for. It is very important that you prepare and practice your interview technique before actually meeting with an employer. Schedule a practice interview with the Office of Career Services.



You have applied for a position and have scheduled an interview with the employer’s representatives. This is an extremely important opportunity. Your objective is to convince them that you are the best candidate for the job. Here are a few tips:
  1. Be on Time. When you schedule your interview, ask about when you need to show up at the organization’s facility in order to make your scheduled interview time. In some cases, like a Federal Agency, you may need to arrive at their Visitor’s Office at least 30 minutes prior to your interview in order to go through the security process. In other cases, such as a small company, you may only need to show up 5 minutes before your interview. In any case, be on time!

  2. Dress appropriately. Depending on the type of company and the type of position, appropriate dress ranges from a suit to casual business attire. Dress neatly. Don’t wear sweatshirts, tank tops, shorts, or tennis shoes.

  3. Know as much as you can about the position requirements. Review the position requirements before the interview and be prepared to clearly explain how you match up against these requirements. Special Tip: If the position requirements are very general and the interviewer asks you to talk about your qualifications, you can say: “Before I talk about my qualifications, I am aware of the position requirements as they were listed in your job description, but could you share with me if there are any additional requirements that define the perfect candidate?” If the interviewer declines your request, no problem, just go with what you know. But if the interviewer answers your request, listen carefully, and then make sure to respond with how you match up with these additional requirements.

  4. Don’t expect the Interviewer to have read your resume. Be prepared to point out and elaborate upon your qualifications that are in your resume. Talk about the projects you have been involved with, including work projects and class projects. Describe the project, what your specific role was in the project, and what tools and methodologies that you used.

  5. Put your best foot forward, but don’t lie. If the Interviewer asks if you’ve had experience with Oracle, and you have no experience with Oracle but have experience with a similar tool, go ahead and tell how this experience is very similar. This is your chance to talk about yourself. Don’t be too shy. However, never lie. If the Interviewer asks a follow-up question that reveals that you have lied, then he/she won’t believe anything that you say.

  6. Speak clearly. This is very important for all students, but particularly those students who have strong accents. If you know that you are sometimes hard to understand, speak slowly and loud enough to be easily heard. Watch to see if the Interviewer understands you, and if not, speak even more slowly and give examples of what you are talking about.

  7. Relax. Be yourself. Have confidence in your ability to help the Interviewer determine if you will be a good addition to the workplace. Smile. However, don’t tell jokes, or make statements about race, gender, age, or religion.

  8. Don’t ask the Hiring Manager questions that a Human Resources representative should be answering. HR representatives can and should address questions about health insurance, leave, education assistance, etc. Keep your discussions focused on technical work topics.

  9. Take every opportunity to show that you will be a team player. Cite where you have worked on project teams, including class teams and/or work teams. Also cite where you have led project teams. Special Tip: Tell the Interviewer that, once you are hired, you will immediately focus on learning how your project team’s performance will be measured (these are called performance metrics), and that you will dedicate yourself to doing everything possible to help the team exceed those performance metrics. For example, if a problem arises 15 minutes before quitting time, you might say that you would stay on for a reasonable time to make sure that the problem is resolved. As another example, if someone on your team has a problem with something that you are an expert in, you will share your knowledge with that worker so that the team will perform better.

  10. Avoid being negative about your previous experiences. If you continuously talk about what was wrong with every professor, every project, every co-worker, and every job that you encountered, the Interviewer will conclude that you will find something wrong with this job as well.

  11. Avoid a “me first” attitude. Some candidates ask multiple questions about how much vacation they will get, how often salary increases are given, etc. These are all valid questions, but save those questions for follow-up meetings or discussions with the HR representative. Make sure that you let the Hiring Manager know that you will do everything you can to make his/her customers happy.

  12. Be ready to give a summary of why you are a great candidate for this job. If the Interviewer asks if you have anything else to say, respond by saying something like: “I just want to respectfully state that I will be a great addition to your company because of my directly applicable classroom, project, and work experience; my interest in this field; and my team-first attitude”. Back up your statements with specific examples. Don’t just say, “I will work very hard”.

  13. Get the Interviewer’s contact information and send a “Thank You” note. Within one or two days after the interview, send a thank you note to the Interviewer. This could be either via an email or a written note. State that you are very interested in the position. If you remember a particular topic that you enjoyed talking with the Interviewer about, say so (“I particularly enjoyed our discussion about the challenges associated with system testing”). You can also state one more time why you are an excellent candidate for this position.

  14. If you don’t hear from the employer for 3-4 weeks, it is OK to call and find out the status. You should call the employer’s recruiting representative, not the Hiring Manager. That shows that you are still interested. But don’t be a pest.