Interview Prep

Congratulations - you have an interview with a potential employer! But wait a minute, what do you do now? As with most things in life, preparation is key to success. Just like studying for an exam, you are going to have to commit some time to preparing for the interview.

First of all, there are three basic keys:

  1. Know yourself.  Know your strengths and weakness, your skills and competencies, your values and your personality.  Be able to articulate these and how they relate to the the position and the organization.
  2. Know the position.  You have talked to the recruiter, so you should have a pretty basic idea of who/what they are looking for, but do some further research.  See if the position is posted on Go IRISH, or on the Careers page of the organization’s website. They should have listed Qualifications or Required Skills.  Guess what - you now know what they are very likely to ask you about!
  3. Know the organization.  This goes beyond looking at their website.  Use the Center for Career Development’s Online Resources, such as Business Insights Essentials or Business Source Complete to access information for public companies; Mergent Online is a great resource for a list of recent news articles.

First impressions count, as cliche (but true) as it seems.

  • Dress business formal.  Pay attention to the details - attire should be wrinkle free, shoes shined, and hair well groomed.
  • Bring a notepad and pen, extra copies of your resume, a copy of your transcript, and if appropriate, any examples of your work - design projects, etc.
  • Arrive 5 - 10 minutes early.
  • Make sure your phone is turned OFF and not on vibrate.
  • Build rapport with the interviewer(s) in the first five seconds by greeting them with a smile, firm handshake, and eye contact - it shows confidence!
  • Sit up straight and try to maintain good posture throughout the entire interview. Don’t cross your arms or legs.

Towards the end of the interview, the recruiter will typically ask if you have any questions. Make the most out of this opportunity - asking questions shows that you’re truly interested in the job. This is also your chance for you to find out about organizational culture, management expectations, and if the place is a good fit for you - interviewing is a two-way street.  Take a look at our online Career Development Guide to prepare questions about:

  • The industry
  • The organization
  • General information


Wrap up the interview by reiterating your interest in the organization and the position, and make sure you understand the next steps/timetable.  Don’t be afraid to ask for this information - it’s important you know! Finally, end the interview with a firm handshake and smile.


Follow-up is key, and an area where many people fumble the ball.  Send a thank you note or email within 24 hours of your interview. Restate your interest in the position, and try to reference something you talked about in the interview.  This can jog the recruiter’s memory of the interview.


Good luck, and Go Irish!


For further assistance, check out our website or come in to the Center for Career Development to meet with a counselor.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ray VanderHeyden is an Assistant Director in Undergraduate Career Services at the Center for Career Development. As a counselor, Ray is a part of the Explore Team working with students to explore industries further, help with job decision making and offer evaluation, as well as figure out the next step in a student's professional career.