The key to interview success is to be prepared. 


Below, you'll find interview tips and guidelines to help you prepare for future interviews. Start preparing before you're even invited for an interview.

Below, you'll find interview tips and guidelines to help you prepare for future interviews. Start preparing before you're even invited for an interview.


Prepare to Interview  

Interviewing is a two way process that allows the employer to assess your fit for the position and organization by asking questions about your experiences, qualifications, and career interests, while also allowing you to learn about and assess the organization and specific position to which you are applying.  

Pre-Interview  

Employers want smart students who communicate well, work effectively in teams, and are genuinely enthusiastic about the position and organization. To interview well, you must demonstrate these attributes while also relating your knowledge, skills, and abilities to the position of interest. Below are some tips for effective preparation. 

Research 

  • Research the organization via their website, industry/trade journals, and online searches. Among the details you should know: industry, mission, competitors, annual sales, income, number of employees, recent news, and if a publicly traded company, stock symbol and price 

  • Acquire as much information as possible about the position you’ve applied for. Read the position description, know the job responsibilities, and talk to people doing this or similar work. 

  • Be sure you know what time you should arrive, where you should be, who you should ask for upon arrival, and the expected duration of the interview. 

  • Speak to a staff member in the Office of Career Planning about interview tips specific to your target career field.  Different career fields require familiarity with different types of interview questions and strategies.  

Reflect 

  • Use the research you’ve collected to make a case for WHY you want to work for the organization in the specific position you’ve applied for and why they should chose you. 

  • Review the position description and highlight similarities between job responsibilities/qualifications and specific experiences that demonstrate your competences in these areas. 

  • Prepare to speak about everything on your resume. In addition, identify three items on your resume that you hope the employer won’t ask about and be ready to talk about each one in a positive manner. 

  • Create insightful questions to ask the employer based on your research 

Practice 

  • Schedule mock interviews with a staff member in the Office of Career Planning. The Office of Career Planning offers taped and un-taped mock interviews targeted for the career field and type of position you’re applying for 

  • Generate a list of questions and practice your responses to commonly asked questions with a friend, professor, and/or parent. 

Professional Dress & Presentation  

  • Check out the Career Closet! The Office of Career Planning has professional attire at each campus for students and alumni. 

  • Standard interviewing attire is a bit more conservative than you may be used to- look to the right for more info! 

  • Try on your interview attire and make sure it fits properly prior to your interview. 

  • Obtain a professional portfolio and stock it with 5-10 extra copies of your resume on resume paper, the position description, company information, your list of questions to ask the employer, and reference list in case you are asked for it.  

 

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In-Person Interviewing Tips  

Arrival & Introduction  

  • Turn off your cell phone and discard gum before getting to the interview site. 

  • Arrive 15 minutes early to get settled and be ready when the interviewer greets you. Research where you are going ahead of time so that you know exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there.  

  • Greet your interviewer by name, make eye contact, smile, and offer a firm handshake. 

  • Be prepared to engage in small talk. This will usually be prompted by the interviewer. 

  • Remember that you are being evaluated form the moment you come into contact with a representative from the organization, whether in the waiting area, elevator, or parking lot. Be courteous and respectful to every individual you interact with.During  

The Interview  

  • Listen carefully to the question asked and be sure to answer the question clearly and succinctly. Once you answer the question, stop. Don’t ramble 

  • Sit up, lean forward, speak confidently, be positive, and avoid fidgeting. Research suggests 55% of communication is non-verbal, 38% is how you deliver your message, and only 7% is what you actually say. 

  • Support your statements with specific examples. This will help make your experiences more tangible, thus making you a stronger candidate. 

  • Focus on the qualifications you have, not on those you don’t. The fact that you’re interviewing for the position means that you have the necessary prerequisites. 

  • Ask for business cards from each person you interview with. This will help ensure proper follow up. 

  • Ask your contact when you can expect to hear from them regarding the position if he or she does not tell you. 

  • At the end of the interview day, thank your contact for their time, shake their hand, and tell him/her that you look forward to hearing from them.  

  • Avoid talking about salary or benefits during the interview. If asked for salary requirements, say that you trust the organization will offer a competitive salary commensurate with your qualifications and target position. Don’t provide a number. 

Post-Interview  

  • Write down the names of everyone that interviewed you and specifically what you spoke about with them ASAP.  

  • Always send a thank you e-mail or hand written note to each individual that you met with within 24 hours of your interview.  

  • Thank the interviewer for their time, mention details about your conversation if you remember, reaffirm your interest in the position you interviewed for, and reference something you learned about the opportunity. 

  • Call or e-mail to follow up with your contact if you have not heard from him/her within the discussed time frame. If no time frame was discussed, follow up one week later. Following up is important because it reiterates your interest in the position and keeps your name in the interviewer’s mind. 

  • Schedule an appointment with a staff member in the Career Center if you have questions or want assistance evaluating your interview performance. 

  • Meet with the Office of Career Planning for advice on accepting/rejecting an offer and salary negotiation 

  • If you are not selected, remember, rejection will happen often. Don’t take it personally, persevere and move on. Your best fit is still out there!  

 

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Virtual Interviewing Tips 

1. Test your technology 

  • Technology skills are a very desirable skill set to have in the eyes of an employer- this is an easy way to demonstrate your skills! Employers can gauge your abilities easily during a virtual interview 

  • Test equipment (computer and webcam) and internet connection before 

  • Nothing hinders conversation quite like an interrupted connection mid-persuasion point 
     

2. Present a professional identity 

  • Make sure your user name/name you register as for the interview software is professional, including: Full name (capitalized) and a professional email (Sage email works well), personal pronouns (optional) 
     

3. Dress the part even though the interviewers may not be able to see your entire outfit 

  • Wear what you would wear to an in person interview: Blazer, suit, suit separates 

  • Jewel tones and black look best on a video call and small patterns only (but best to be avoided on video interviews) 

  • Test on screen before and a void flashy/noisy accessories 
     

4. Create a professional space 

  • If possible, have a blank background behind you so you can be to focal point and make sure the area is well lit  

  • Sitting with a window is in front of you looks best 

  • Clean and make sure the area looks organized 

  • Try to find the quietest place with the least background noise 

5. Be aware of body language 

  • Since you can't shake hands, you must convey your confidence with your body language 

  • Sit up straight, smile, and keep the camera at eye level... and look into the camera (not at the screen) 
     

6. Get in a professional zone and set aside time ahead of the interview to mentally prepare yourself 

  • Silence cell phone (turn it off), rid yourself of distractions 

  • Make sure those that share your space know that you are interviewing 

  • If in a panel interview, use names to direct conversation 

7. Practice! 

  • Use our office to conduct a virtual mock interview; we can tailor the mock interview based on the position to which you have applied 

  • Practice your answers to common interview questions 

  • Record yourself on Google Meet (video) answering questions 

  • Look for nervous habits, body language, lighting issues, etc. 
     

8. Follow up 

  • Always follow up with a thank-you email within 24 hours 

  • Each person that interviewed you gets a personalized thank-you email  

  • If you don't have the email address(es), contact the organization's Human Resources or the person who set up the interview for you

 

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Behavioral Interviewing  

Behavioral Interviewing is an interviewing technique in which the interviewer probes for details about your past experiences to assess your qualifications for a particular position. It is based on the premise that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. Behavioral interview questions typically address some of the following themes: communication, teamwork, leadership, persuasion, problem solving, initiative, handling conflict, decision making, and overcoming failure. 

STAR Method  

An effective strategy for answering behavioral interviewing questions is the STAR Method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. To respond, detail the specific situation or task you faced (the problem or challenge presented), the action you took, and explain the positive result of your actions.  

If an employer were to ask:  

  • “Tell me about a time when you had to utilize creative problem solving skills.”  

You could use the STAR method to respond by saying:   

  • “As Treasurer of the Biology Club, we saw a 15 member increase from 10 to 25 from my junior to senior year, though our club received no additional funding. This meant that our field trip to the Museum of Natural History would either be cancelled or that we’d have to be selective in choosing who went. Rather than cancelling the event, I reached out to my contact on Student Government, and was able to secure a co-sponsor for the event. As a result of their co-sponsorship, all 25 of our members were able to go to the museum.” 

Behavioral Interviewing Tips 

  • Identify specific scenarios from past experiences that effectively demonstrate skill sets consistent with the themes mentioned above. Include examples from past internships, work experiences, extracurricular activities, coursework, class projects, etc.  

  • Use these scenarios to prepare answers to sample behavioral questions using the STAR method. 

Sample Behavioral Questions 

  • Tell me about the best presentation you’ve ever done. 

  • Give me an example of a time when you worked with a group/team to determine project responsibilities. What difficulties did the group/team have? What was your role?  

  • Give me an example of a time when you played a leadership role in a work situation, course project, student club, or team setting. 

  • Describe a situation in which you were able to persuade someone of your point of view.  

  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation to solve a problem. 

  • Describe a time where you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done. 

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone that you don’t get along with. 

  • Have you ever taken an unpopular stand on an issue? What was the situation and what did you do? 

  • Describe a situation when you tried your hardest but didn’t achieve the desired result. What did you learn? 

  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with conflicting priorities. How did you determine what was a top priority in scheduling your time?   

 

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Questions to Ask Employers  

Following the conclusion of the interviewer’s questions, he or she will generally ask if you have any questions for them. Saying no will indicate to the employer that you’re not interested. Asking insightful questions about the position and employer demonstrates to the interviewer that you’ve done you research and are genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity.

Below are some questions to ask the employer. Use these examples in combination with your research to create your own list of questions. 

  • What are the key challenges for the department/organization?  

  • What are the characteristics of the people who succeed in this position? 

  • In six months time, how will you know if you’ve hired the right person? 

  • Relative to your competitors, what is your competitive advantage? 

  • What are the key metrics that you use to evaluate your department/business? 

  • What are the trends that will/are influencing the business/industry?  

  • How would you describe the culture of the department/organization? 

  • What are the key objectives for the next 6-12 months? And, how does this role impact these objectives?  

  • (For the manager) How do you describe your management style?  

  • Is this a new position? If not, where did the person go who occupied the position? 

  • Where are you in the search process? When do you expect to make a hiring decision?   

  • Note: Many of these questions can be asked to each interviewer. Asking the same questions allows you to assess the consistency of responses. The more consistent, the more likely the information is an accurate depiction of the organization. 

 

Tips for Asking Insightful Questions  

  • Review recent headlines about the organization. You should be able to generate a few insightful questions from these headlines. 

  • Write down your questions and, if necessary, refer to them at the appropriate time. Employers would rather you refer to your list of questions to ask an insightful question than not refer to your questions and ask a silly question. 

  • Do not ask questions that can be easily answered by viewing the employer’s website.  

  • Do not ask questions about salary or benefits. Wait until the employer makes an offer before either topic is discussed. 

 

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Illegal Questions for Employers to Ask

Federal and state laws prohibit employers from asking questions to uncover personal information unrelated to the position you’re interviewing for. Specifically, employers are not allowed to ask questions about your race, gender, religion, marital status, disabilities, ethnic background, country or origin, sexual preferences or age. 

If you’re asked an illegal question, you have a few options:

  1. Simply answer the question directly if you’re comfortable doing so and don’t believe it will affect your candidacy. If you’re not comfortable answering, tell them you don’t feel comfortable as you don’t see how it pertains to the position, and ask politely if they would explain the relevance.  

  1. Redirect the question and then provide an answer. For instance, if an employer asks your country of origin, you could reply, “If you’re asking whether or not I can work in the US, I can.” 

If you think you’re been asked an illegal question, contact the Career Center at careercenter@lawrence.edu or call 920-832-6561.

 

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Follow Up E-Mails and Sample 

If it has been a few weeks since your interview and you still have not yet heard anything from the organization, you are allowed to email them as a follow up and to reiterate your interest in the position.  

Sample Follow-up Email  

Subject: Program Coordinator Position 

Dear Mr. Swanson,  

I’m writing to express my continued interest in the Program Coordinator position and ask if you know the status of my application. I look forward to hearing from you.  

Sincerely,  

Leslie Knope 

Thank You Notes 

We highly recommend sending thank you notes/ emails after an interview. By sending a thank you letter or email to each person that you interviewed with, you can set yourself apart from the other candidates and show your interest. Keep them short... no more than one page or a few paragraphs! You can find out the interviewers information on where to email it to/mail it to on their website or from their Human Resources office.  

What to include: 

  • A specific topic that you discussed during your interview that you found particularly interesting 

  • Mention any relevant or important information that you may have forgotten to mention or did not have the opportunity to mention 

  • Reiterate important information that you discussed such as start date, relocating, etc.

  • Restate your skills, qualifications and passion for the position  

Thank You E-Mail  

Dear Ms. Meagle, 

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the position of Management Trainee Intern at Entertainment 720. I enjoyed discussing our shared passion of hiking in the Adirondacks and exploring the Capital District. I am excited that I had the opportunity to discuss my interest in this position and gaining real-world hands-on experience. I believe that through my experience as a shift leader at Old Navy and my time as a student-athlete College, I have developed the skills that would allow me to be successful in this role at Entertainment 720.  

If you wish to discuss my qualifications and interest further, I can be reached via this email address or at (123) 456-7890.  

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Sincerely,  

Tom Haverford 

 

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