Interview Preparation

Interview Preparation


You have landed that job interview, now what? Information on this page is designed to serve as guidelines to assist you in preparing for and conducting a successful job interview.


Remember... how you apply for a job is as important as the qualifications you have to offer. In fact, you should view your job search skills as part of your overall qualifications. Employers evaluate not only the skills you possess for the job, but also the skills you exhibit in looking for the job, evidenced in the quality of your resume and cover letter, and your ability to conduct yourself professionally throughout the interview process.


Before the Interview

1. Research the employer/organization

  • Employer/organization websites should be your first stop when researching an employer! Here you will find out about the organization, their mission and what the employer is all about.
  • Online directories – business directories are available in the university library. eRecruiting allows you to research companies and provides access to directories; also check out industry/trade journals.
  • Networking with current or former employees of employer/organization and other personal contacts.
  • Call the employer/organization for info if cannot locate web site or other source of information
  • See How Do I Research Companies? for more helpful info!
  • Visit the Optimal Resume site to practice what to say in your interview. You can also view sample responses to certain interview questions.


2. Research the position/type of work

  • Review the employer/organization web site and job posting
  • SIGI 3 - In Occupational Information view information on over 300 careers including job descriptions, education/training/skills and other qualifications, advancement opportunities, salary, job outlook, etc.
  • OOH (Occupational Outlook Handbook) - US Dept. of Labor resource with detailed information on 100s of careers
  • O*Net (Occupational Information Network) - another US Dept. of Labor career information resource with detailed information on 100s of careers


3. Understand the concept of "behavioral interviewing"

  • Be able to "tell a story" of how you applied and/or developed specific skills to address and improve upon a challenging problem or situation. For more information, visit the Behavioral Interviewing information on our website.


4. Read sources to help you prepare for interviews

  • Knock 'Em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide by Martin Yate
  • The Complete Q & A Job Interview Book by Jeffrey G. Allen
  • 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions by Ron Fry
  • Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions by Matthew J. DeLuca
  • A useful web site is


5. Plan your interview wardrobe

  • Planning what you will wear to an interview is vital - you want to make sure you present yourself in a professional manner. See our Professional Dress Guidelines for helpful tips.


6. Make extra copies of your resume, cover letter and references page

  • Bring extra copies along with a writing pad and pen in a portfolio or case to the interview.


7. Be prepared to discuss every item on your resume

  • Market your qualifications for the job! Many interviewers ask you to expand on the information on your resume.


8. See a CS Career Counselor for a "mock interview"

  • Practice makes perfect. A mock or practice interview will put you more at ease with the interviewing process. Prepare for your "mock interview" by writing, and bringing with you, your answers to these standard interview questions.


The Interview

  1. Arrive early (approximately 15 minutes – if you are any earlier, wait in your car until about 15 minutes before the interview). Check your appearance in the restroom.
  2. Introduce yourself to the secretary/receptionist and inform them that you have an interview with Mr./Ms. (name of interviewer) at (time).
  3. Follow the interviewer's lead. When he/she greets you, pause a moment and allow them to initiate the handshake, so as not to appear you are dominating the interview. If they do not, you may initiate it. Always offer a firm handshake!
  4. Make – and maintain – good eye contact! If a group interview, respond to one of the interviewer's questions by first looking at them, then making eye contact with each of the others.
  5. Show interest and enthusiasm by using attentive listening skills such as nodding to show you are hearing and understanding the question, smiling periodically, and maintaining a pleasant and alert – not scowling, frowning, or "flat" – facial expression.
  6. Pay attention to verbal cues from the interviewer so you'll know when it's time for you to stop talking. However, make sure you end your own responses – and appropriately – by developing "concluding statements" that summarize your response and show that you are finished.
  7. Don't assume a passive role in the interview. Bring up key qualifications you possess if the interview questions aren't allowing you to communicate these. However, use tact and timing – build upon information the interviewer shares by relating specific knowledge, skills or experience you have that relates to that information.
  8. As the interview draws to a close you will likely be asked if you have any questions. Ask about the hiring date or when you can expect to hear from them regarding their decision, and then ask if you may call if you don't hear anything by then. Remember to send a thank you within two days of the interview! See Post-Interview Tips for more details.