Both skill and art are needed to turn an interview into an opportunity. But preparation may be the biggest determination of success at converting an interview into a job, an internship or an important career move.
To help you prepare, try out Big Interview for free in partnership with Capital One! Use it to learn and practice your interview skills, whether you're interviewing for a job or graduate school.
Big Interview has been provided free of charge to our students in partnership with Capital One. It is an online program that provides resources for students to prepare for interviews and the job application process. Most notably, they have an interactive AI mock interview tool that provides personalized feedback and recommendations based on your recorded responses to various interview questions. We encourage you to use Big Interview to help you prepare for the future.
Be yourself. Pretending to be someone or something you are not ends up being a lose-lose situation, even if you land the job or internship. However, being yourself does not mean “wing it.” To get a job or internship offer, you need to be the best you that you can be.
Research the position. Ask for a description of the position and thoroughly research it. Determine the key qualifications for the position (skills, experience, etc.). Prepare examples from your experiences that demonstrate you have those key skills and qualifications.
Research their website. Know what they do (services or products) in as much detail as possible. Know their mission statement. What do they stand for? What are their values? Know enough about them to answer “Why do you want to work for us?” with specifics and enthusiasm. Look at the “What’s new/Press room/release” section of their website. Incorporating this information into one of your answers or questions can be a great way to impress them.
Be able to answer the following: Tell me about yourself. Why are you interested in this position? Why do you want to work for our organization? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your short- and long-term goals? Give me an example of a time you demonstrated _____ (key job skills/qualifications).
Back up your answers with specific examples of what you have done. General or vague answers are a common mistake. Don't just say “I think a good example of my leadership skills would be my involvement in the management club.” Cite at least one example of how you used your leadership skills for the management club. Create one- to two-minute stories using SAR: Describe Situation, your Actions and cite Results.
Have questions prepared to ask them based on your research and/or things they have mentioned during the interview.
Practice your answers. More practice translates into a higher success rate. The more often you answer interview questions, the better your answers usually get. Using actual interviews to polish your answers is a good way to not get job offers.
Dress appropriately. For almost all job or internship interviews, this means wearing a business suit and dress shoes.
Send a thank you note by the next day. A short, handwritten note will make you really stand out, but an emailed note will get there quicker and is perfectly acceptable.
In today's mostly conservative job market in which companies might interview dozens of people for one position, first impressions are more important than ever.
Grooming, body language and dress from head to toe matter.
Try not to be remembered for your attire. Wear something that allows the interviewer to focus on your skills and qualifications rather than your style.
Your garments and accessories should convey a professional polished look.
Men should wear a suit or dress pants with a button up shirt and tie.
Women have more choices, but it’s important to remember to stick to the basics.
In some cultures women may dress in a more traditional sense. It is important to keep this value when dressing for interviews, but it is also important to maintain a clean, crisp and professional look.
When choosing accessories it is important to remain minimal.
Before the Interview:
First Impressions are extremely important. Aspects like your consideration of time, personal appearance, and quality of conversation are things that are culturally significant in an interviewer/interviewee relationship.
While small talk is a great way to start the interview process, remember that keeping to the schedule and being mindful of the interviewer’s time is another cultural value here in the U.S.
Here are a few good examples of small talk:
During the Interview:
It is important to demonstrate your knowledge and abilities through examples while showing that you are relaxed and confident. The goal of this would be to emphasize the value you would bring to the team as well as how you would contribute to the organization as a whole.
After the Interview:
Additionally: Know your rights as an international student!
In the U.S., it is illegal for interviewers to ask questions on immigration status, age, nationality, or marital status. It is ok for them to ask if you are authorized to work in the U.S. and if you will need visa sponsorship now or in the future. Be sure to be knowledgeable about your work authorization and be prepared to explain the process of authorizing work and to be clear about the employer’s responsibilities in the process. If employers ask illegal interview questions, stay pleasant and keep your answers general!
Here are a few samples of illegal interview questions:
The interview is the most efficient way for you and the representative of an employer to get to know each other.
However, research and preparation will significantly increase your interviewing performance and positive outcome. You cannot exactly rehearse your role in an upcoming interview because you don't know what cues will be given to you.
Common courtesy, good common sense and being yourself is always encouraged.
While there is no single correct way to conduct an interview, these are some basic rules and situations common to most interviews.
Employers find phone or video interviewing an affordable and effective screening tool. They are frequently used to save time by pre-qualifying your interest and expertise.
It may be your first or only chance to make a good impression.
Phone interviews can result from a variety of activities:
You must be ready to have a professional interaction every time the phone rings if you are looking for an internship or a job.
Tips for your video interview
Most interviewers will follow a simple question and answer format. However, be ready for a few unexpected questions. Some interviewers have a favorite or two they like to spring, such as: "What can I do for you?" "Why are you interested in working for us?" or... "Tell me about yourself."
When answering, be sincere, honest and concise.
Review the questions below as well this list of Job Interview Questions.
Interviewers frequently ask these questions.
Review these sites to prepare yourself for tough interview questions.
It's important to be prepared to answer questions about your methods for teaching, discipline principles and personal development.
Be prepared to ask questions at your interview.
This allows you to determine if you would be satisfied with this position.
It emphasizes that the job interview is a two-way process set up to establish a mutually satisfying work relationship (for you and the employer).
Do not ask basic questions about the employer (these should be known through your research), instead, inquire about specifics.