Types of Interviews
- Each organization typically has their own structure for completing interviews.
- It is common to have to complete multiple interviews with the same organization prior to being offered a position.
- A first-round interview may be shorter (typically 30 minute-1 hour). These are also referred to as "screening interviews," when employers ask just a few questions to get a better idea of your skills and experiences.
- Second-round and any additional interviews may be longer (sometimes a full day or more!). You may meet with multiple people throughout the organization, receive a tour, and/or be asked to give a presentation.
- When you are invited to interview, we recommend getting as many details as possible about the structure of your interview, who you will be meeting, etc.
Before the Interview
Research the Organization
- Be prepared to talk about anything on your resume. Relate your skills and experiences to the position and organization.
- Prepare 3 or more "Success Stories." Emphasize your strengths through projects, jobs, or other situations where you were directly involved in the success of an item.
- Confirm all details. Ask for the correct street address, approximately how long to plan for, and who you will be meeting with. Plan a route in advance, and either check your directions and parking or figure out public transportation options ahead of time. If possible, do a 'practice run' to the interview area.
- Prepare questions to ask the employer at the end of your interview. You want to get as much information as possible to ensure this is the right opportunity for you, but avoid asking about salary and benefits.
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! You can schedule an in-person mock interview with a staff member in the TCDC at any time, or complete an online mock interview using InterviewStream.
Day of the Interview
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early and be pleasant to everyone you encounter.
- Bring a professional portfolio and extra copies of your resume. Avoid carrying other large items and turn off your cell phone.
- Be confident! Greet the employer with a smile and a firm handshake.
- Be aware of your body language. Show you are interested, maintain good posture, and avoid nervous habits as much as possible.
- Manage your anxiety — it's OKAY to be nervous! Picture the interview as an 'exchange of information' between the employer and you. Remember that the interviewer is a human being with their own roles, responsibilities, and stressors as well.
Dress for Success
What to Wear
Please note that these suggestions were prompted by recruiters who expect all candidates to present themselves in "formal" interview attire, both on-campus and at their site.
- Conservative business suit–both skirts (no shorter than knee-length) or pantsuits are acceptable
- Pressed blouse or dress shirt with collar in a classic/traditional style, tucked in
- Conservative tie (no bright colors or busy prints)
- Nylons/hosiery in sheer (close to skin color) or dark socks, executive length (to the knee)
- Polished leather wing tips or business type shoes only (no loafers, no suede)
- Low heeled pump shoe (avoid ornaments, thick soles, high heels)
- Neat haircut and clean-shaved neck (front and back)
- Facial hair neatly trimmed
- Minimum jewelry–watch, small earrings (one or two holes), rings, etc.
- Light makeup, neat nails (natural or polished-conservative color, not chipped)
- Very light or no perfume/cologne
- Small purse and/or professional portfolio for copies of resume, pad of paper, and pen
What Not to Wear
- Jeans, shorts, spandex, casual dresses
- Sneakers, casual boots, flip flops
- Low cut blouses, bows, ruffles, lace, loud prints, bright colors, etc. (keep it simple!)
- Large jewelry (remove facial piercings) and cover tattoos
- Avoid overbearing scents (cologne, perfume, hairspray, smoke, etc.)
Beat the competition! Remember that your attire is a reflection of your professionalism. It is about image and NOT fashion. Don't lose a job opportunity because you didn't wear the right interviewing outfit. You never get a second chance to make a first impression!
Discounted Interview Attire
Sample Questions & How to Respond
Common Questions for You & the Employer
- Be honest and concise. Never exaggerate about your experiences.
- Prepare a one-minute summary of your resume and accomplishments. Emphasize your strengths, what you can offer the organization, and what makes you unique.
- Articulate why you want to work for a particular organization. Show your interest and enthusiasm. Do your homework and research the employer.
- Use the STAR Method and backup statements with examples. Be sure to give details and outcomes.
- If you do not understand a question, politely ask for clarification: "Can you help me understand what you mean by..." or repeat back your understanding of the question and ask for clarification. "So, my understanding is that you're looking for examples of... is that correct?
- Be sure to take a few moments to think about an answer if nothing comes to you right away. You can communicate that you need to think about the answer. You can also ask "Does that answer your question?" after your response to ensure you were on the right track.
The STAR method is a structured way to answer a behavior-based question. Your goal is to discuss the Situation, Task, Action, and Result of the example you are providing the interviewer:
- SITUATION: Describe the situation that you were in to provide context. You must describe one specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past.
- TASK: Explain the goal you were working toward and what you had to accomplish.
- ACTION: Describe the specific actions you took to address the situation. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution? Use the word "I" not "we."
- RESULT: Describe the outcome of your actions and don't be shy about taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the situation end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.
After Your Interview & Sample Thank You Note
- Let the interviewer end the interview. Thank them for the opportunity and try to get business cards from everyone you met with.
- Take notes immediately after you leave while the information is still fresh–what went well, what did you wish you had mentioned? Did they say anything about decision-making timelines?
- Follow up with a "thank you" email or letter within 24-48 hours after the interview. If there was a committee or group, you can request the main interviewer to extend your appreciation to the entire interview team.
- Stay in touch and follow-up in the allotted time frame if you do not hear back.
Sample Thank You Note
Both email and handwritten are appropriate. If emailing, use "(Name of Position) Interview Follow-up" as the Subject. If sending a handwritten note, be sure to use your best penmanship and drop it off or address the envelope correctly.
Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. _______________:
Express your thanks for their time during the interview or meeting. Reemphasize one of your strongest qualities and details from your conversation. Draw connections between the position and your skills and experiences. Explain why their organization is a good fit for you.
Reiterate your interest in the position. Provide additional contact information (phone and/or email). Tell the recipient that you are looking forward to hearing from them.
Negotiating Offers & Salary Information
Prior to any interview, conduct research on the salary range for the type of position and geographic location of interest to be best prepared for an interviewer's questions about your salary expectations.
Salary is what most people think of first when researching compensation. Be certain to consider other forms of compensation, particularly benefits, such as health care and retirement planning, before making a final decision about whether a position's salary will meet your needs and expectations.
How to Handle Requests for Salary History & Negotiation Tips
When an employer requests a salary history, many job seekers find themselves at a loss. You don't want to price yourself out of a job, but you don't want the employer to offer less than the going rate for the position. So what's the right answer?
- Don't include salary history on your resume.
- Handle the request at the end of your cover letter. First, highlight your skills, experience, and interest in the position–information that is far more important to your consideration as a candidate.
- Respond to the question positively without giving a specific amount. (Example: "I'm earning in the mid-30s.")
- Say "salary is negotiable."
- If you know the market value for the position and for someone with your skills and background, give at least a $3,000-$5,000 range.
- Be prepared to respond to this question in an interview. Carry a list of your positions in reverse chronological order, including the name of the company, your title, a synopsis of your duties, and, lastly, a general compensation amount (e.g. mid-30s).
- Don't lie about your salary history. Employers may verify salary history through reference checks.
- Salary requests are difficult for all job searchers to handle, not just new college grads. The key is to shift the focus, politely but firmly, from what you made in the past to competitive compensation for the position you want.
Salary Information Websites
Some of this information is courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.