Before an Interview


The key to success in any interview is preparation! It is important that you know as much as possible about the position for which you are applying and the organization with which you are interviewing. Preparation also means knowing yourself. You will be expected to articulate your goals, values, interests, and skills.

1. Research the Position & Organization: Thoroughly research the organization, career field, issues, and trends related to the type of work you would be doing, and be prepared to “speak the language” of the professionals who work in the field.

What to research:

  • the function and size of the organization
  • its potential for growth or expansion
  • its products and services
  • its reputation
  • location of facilities
  • structure of the organization
  • its financial stability
  • types of clients it serves
  • opportunities for training
  • who its competitors are
  • relocation policies
  • typical entry-level positions
  • typical salary ranges for your desired position
  • typical career path in your field

Where to find information:

  • the organization’s website (The “About Us” section)
  • social media
  • people in the field
  • alumni employed by the organization
  • organization literature
  • public and career libraries
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • trade journals
  • newsletters
  • business magazines and associations
  • directories

Some organizations sponsor an information session prior to conducting interviews, and you can learn a great deal about the organization by listening and asking questions. After careful review of all available information, you should prepare a list of well-researched questions for the interviewer.

2. Know & Prepare Yourself: You should be prepared to discuss what you can offer the organization as well as your reasons for wanting to work for that particular employer. Prior to the interview, analyze your strengths and weaknesses and know exactly what you want to say (and what you do not want to say) during the interview. Evaluate problem areas in your background and be prepared to offer a positive explanation of these in case they are brought up. You are strongly encouraged to practice an interview with a Career Advisor prior to an actual interview so that you can improve your interviewing techniques and become familiar with the “feel” of an interview situation.

3. Dress the Part: The type of dress that is appropriate varies according to the type of position and organization with which you interview. Dress as it appears others in this type of position or organization dress. You should wear the same type of attire for screening interviews as you would for on-site interviews.

  • In fields such as banking, sales, management, and insurance, a conservative suit (i.e., navy or gray, solid or pinstripe) is appropriate.
  • In fields such as retail, merchandising, and advertising, a more colorful and stylish suit is acceptable.
  • Less formal attire is worn for social service, education, and arts-related positions. Men can wear dress pants, shirt, jacket, and tie; women can wear a skirt or dress pants, blouse, and blazer or a dress with jacket.

It is important to dress well for employer information sessions also. Appropriate attire includes a dress, skirt or dress pants, blouse, and blazer for women. Men should wear nice pants (not jeans), jacket or sweater, and tie.

The way you dress contributes to an employer’s first impression of you and suggests the image you might present on the job if you are hired. Be certain your shoes are polished, hair is neatly combed, and make-up, jewelry, and scent are not excessive or distracting.

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