6 ways to prepare for interviews


Interviewing is a crucial part of the job or internship search. The good news is that by the time you get to an interview, the employer has already decided you meet the minimum qualifications for the position.

An interview is an opportunity for both you and the employer to evaluate whether you’d be a good fit for the position and company culture. It is your chance to highlight your experiences, personality and potential. Here are some tips to help you prepare and feel confident, whether your interview is in-person or virtual.

Do your research

Employers want to know that potential employees have taken the time to get to know their company. They may even ask a few specific questions about the company or position to ensure you’ve done your research. Here are a few ways you can prepare before the interview.

  • Research the company’s size, location, organizational chart, product lines, history, top clients and competitors. Use Handshake, LinkedIn, the company’s website and social media channels, search engines and business articles to help you do thorough research.
  • Visit employers at career fairs and networking events to gain an extra edge and insight into the organization.
  • Be familiar with the job position description and consider how your skills and experience can benefit the company.
  • If you were given the names of the people interviewing you, look them up on the company’s website and LinkedIn. This will help you to become familiar with their job functions and experience.

Prepare questions and responses

It’s impossible to know exactly what questions will be asked, but you can develop responses to commonly asked interview questions.

  • Write out your responses with key points you want to communicate.
  • Keep your answers concise and easy to follow.
  • Include concrete examples that highlight your talents.

Incorporating stories into your answers is also great for demonstrating your strengths. For example, rather than saying you are very organized, you could share how you helped your student group organize an event and the positive results. To do this, try explaining your responses using the START method.

  • Situation: Provide a specific and concise overview, including the timeframe and place.
  • Task: Explain the task or goal you worked on and how it relates to the skill they asked about.
  • Action: Describe your actions and the steps you took.
  • Result: Describe the outcome, if possible. This is your time to take credit for your work or show what you learned.
  • Tie it back: Summarize how the story demonstrates your strengths and relates to the position and the question asked.

Practice interviewing

After you’ve prepared responses and START stories, try practicing them out loud. Whether you practice by yourself in front of a mirror, with a friend or with a career development advisor, this is a great way to feel more confident and prepared before your interview.

You can also use online interview preparation tools like Interview Prep. This mock interview tool can record your responses to interview questions. Only you can see your responses unless you share them with others to ask for feedback.

Be prepared to ask questions

An interview is a two-way street. Just as they are asking questions to learn about you, you should ask questions to ensure this is the right job for you. If you don’t come prepared with questions, the interviewer might assume you haven’t done your research or you’re not interested.

You can ask about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, the company culture or important qualities needed to excel in the position. Use your research to develop detailed questions.

Get organized

If you have a virtual interview, become familiar with the platform used for the interview (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) to avoid technical issues. Test your camera and microphone. Find a quiet location where you won’t be interrupted, and make sure there’s nothing distracting in your background.

If the interview is in-person, plan to arrive early. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the interview’s scheduled start time. Leave time to navigate traffic delays or parking challenges. You also want to ensure you know how to find the specific interview location and the name of your contact person.

Bring along any necessary additional materials. For example, your list of questions, paper, a pen, copies of your resume, transcripts, references, additional samples of your work or any other information you were asked to provide.

Present yourself professionally

Different employers have different expectations for interview attire. Make sure your clothes reflect your identity and align with the job you’re seeking. If you aren’t sure how professionals dress in the field, consider asking people in your network for informational interviews. You can also look at photos on the organization’s website to see how employees dress.

Even with a virtual interview, it’s best to dress with confidence from head to toe. You never know if you’ll need to stand up during your conversation. Plus, how you dress can boost your confidence and help you get in the right frame of mind for the interview.


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