Congratulations on getting an interview! Whether you’ve had interviews before, or this is your first time, we have helpful tips and strategies to help you stand out as a great candidate. To start, conduct a deep dive into researching the company through the lens of “What kind of questions will they ask me?” and “What do I want to know about them?”
- Research and prepare as early as possible: Do a few hours a day for multiple days leading up to the interview to allow plenty of time to process the information you learn.
- Research the company: How do they talk about themselves, their programs, and what they offer customers?
- Research the interviewers: What is their career path? What are their roles? Get to know them to tailor your responses to what might interest them.
- Get comfortable knowing your personal brand: Your brand is connected to your reputation and can help you be a strong candidate for jobs. It’s the approach, style, and work ethic you bring to the work you do. This is conveyed online through your social media, your application materials, and how you present yourself in an interview.
- Prepare for all interview questions: Practice typical interview questions below and behavioral-based questions focusing on how you've demonstrated skills and behaved in professional situations. Review your resume and be prepared to speak to each bullet point.
- Use your network: Research to see if any alumni work at, have worked at, or know someone who works at the company you’ll be interviewing with. The more insights you can gain, the better.
- Tip: When talking about your experience, use similar language on the job description and company website. When you use similar language, they will start to see you already embedded into their team.
During the Interview
- Arrive early, relaxed, and prepared, show enthusiasm; listen and speak clearly and slowly. Be yourself! Be interesting, engaging, yet professional.
- Bring a notebook with your questions and info about the job and company. It’s also a place where you can take notes.
- Use concrete, positive examples to reflect your best skills and attributes.
- Ask questions!
- Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration.
- Send a thank you email the same day (no more than 24 hours) after the interview.
- In the thank you note, include the following:
- Thank them for their time
- Identify three things you learned about the organization or role
- Reiterate 2–3 reasons why you’re a good fit for the role and company
- Provide them with another opportunity to reach out with any questions they have for you and you look forward to talking with them again soon
- Follow up again the day before their decision to reiterate your interest in the role. If you don’t hear back, send another email a week later. Don’t send more than three emails following up with the interviewer. While you wait, keep searching for other roles.
- Tip: Ask for feedback from the interviewers. It shows you’re open to feedback and it can help hone your skills for the next interview.
Typical Stages of Interviewing
Screening Telephone Interview
- Often conducted by a human resources professional or the hiring manager. Purpose: screen out inappropriate candidates. This interview is often 20–30 minutes on the phone or via Zoom.
- Speak loudly enough to be heard easily in a quiet place where you can focus. Remove any distracting items from your view. Act confidently and it’s OK to ask the interviewer to repeat the question or ask for some time to think about your answer.
- The most popular and efficient way for employers to conduct interviews. Make eye contact through the camera, not the screen. Be aware of your backdrop; clean up the area captured by your computer camera. Turn off your pop-ups and emails, and make sure your computer is charging or fully charged. Make sure you have a good, reliable internet connection. Organize your notes in front of you to enhance the answers you give. Have a backup plan by knowing the interviewer’s phone number and email address.
- Different companies have different interviewing processes so you might have a few video interviews in one day or throughout the process. Ensure you have the link over 24 hours in advance so you’re not late.
- Depending on the stage of the interview process, these interviews can be anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
In-Person Interview (For In-Person Roles)
- If the role is in person and if you made it to an in-person interview, you’re likely in one of the final stages of the interview process, congratulations! Because many jobs are remote or hybrid, all of your interviews may be virtual.
- Be sure to dress appropriately for the company, arrive ~10 minutes early, and bring any items you might want or need during the interview, including water. It’s OK to bring a backpack!
- You may be meeting with a team of people in various positions. Be sure to research everyone’s role and ask different questions based on people’s roles.
Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Use the STAR Method to answer interview questions: STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Additionally, you could add a T, for takeaway after the STAR. This method can support how you answer behavioral interview questions that prompt you to tell a story. In total, each STAR story should not be more than two minutes.
Situation: Describe the context with enough information for the interviewer to understand what is happening.
Task: Describe what your responsibilities were in the situation. It can be helpful here to include the goal of the task.
Action: Describe what you did to achieve the goal, whether or not you successfully completed the task.
Result: Describe the outcome of your actions. What worked and what didn’t work? What was the impact of your work?
“Tell Me About Yourself”
A common opener, this is a “sell me” invitation. Develop a brief summary of your background in relation to the job; emphasize your desire to work for the organization, as well as your qualifications for the position. This is your opportunity to share your professional story, which leads you to why you are a good fit for this role. This arc includes your professional past, present, and future and within those moments, according to The Job Closer, the arc of your answer should include your favorite part, insight gained and transition made. Share what motivates you, why you made certain professional decisions, and why this role and company make sense as a next step for you. No answer should be more than two minutes. Practice this answer to keep it short, sweet, and simple. Make an appointment with your career counselor to draft, edit, and practice your answer.
“What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”
We all have things we’re good at and areas where we can improve. Here are a few tips on how to answer this difficult question. Make an appointment with your career counselor to draft, edit, and practice your answer.
- You can use this question as an opportunity to focus on how you work. Maybe you’re a really good people-person whose strengths focus on leadership, communication, and big-picture thinking. The opposite of these skills might be that you work best with others, so you have a harder time self-starting, or you really value a thought partner when you’re working. If you're great at strategic thinking, you might have a harder time thinking about the details or process of getting a project done. This is a time to share how people can work with you because your “weaknesses” are growth opportunities and to provide different ways of thinking.
- One effective way to answer this question is to think of a weakness you have overcome and share the process with the interviewer. “I used to be very shy and afraid to speak to groups of people. I decided I needed to overcome my fear to pursue a career in _____. So, if there was a choice between a paper and a presentation in class, I always chose the presentation.” It is also a good strategy to talk about a weakness you are currently working on.
- Why are you interested in the _____ field?
- Describe your most rewarding college experience/your most memorable accomplishment?
- Tell me what you know about our company.
- Why did you apply to this position?
- What makes you interested in this company?
- What is important to you in a job?
- What are your long-range career goals?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What about this job may you find challenging?
- What aspects of this position do you think you will be best at?
Behavioral Interview Questions
These questions are about situations and examples of how you’ve navigated different situations in a project, in class, or in a job. They often focus on teamwork, customer or client service, adaptability, time management, communication, and motivation or values.
You may be asked questions related to your specific field or past experience. Other interview questions may be based on the following:
- Your philosophy of education and teaching
- Artist statements
- Demo reels
- Links to published articles
- Past productions
- Client testimonials
- Website or Portfolio
Questions to Ask Employers
In most interviews, you will have an opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer at the end. This is a great opportunity to showcase your critical thinking skills and get to know the job and company better. Take this time to ask questions! Here are some questions to ask; adjust based on the role and industry:
- What are the challenging aspects of the position?
- How would you describe the atmosphere here?
- What qualities are you looking for in your new hires?
- To whom would I report? What is their supervisory style?
- Can you describe typical first-year assignments on the job?
- How and when will my performance be evaluated on this job?
Other Questions to Ask in All Positions
- Can you tell me about the benefits (ie. health insurance, 401(k), paid time off)?
- What are the in-person, hybrid, and work-from-home protocols?
- When you get to the final interviewing stage: Can you tell me about the pay structure?
- What parts of my application and experience are a good fit for this role and company and where do you see the need for growth?
Make an appointment with your career counselor to practice interviewing!