Interviewing is an art. Interviewing well takes time, commitment, preparation, and a lot of practice. The person who gets hired is not necessarily the best one for the job — often it’s the one who knows how to get hired. But the good news is, you can be both! We’re here to help you prepare for and master the art of the interview.
Before the Interview
- Memorize your résumé. Understand clearly how your goals, strengths, education, and abilities will be an asset to the company.
- Review your profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites you might have, and imagine your prospective employer looking over your shoulder. Revise accordingly. Google yourself, too — prospective employers will likely Google you.
Understand the Organization and the Position
Employers want to know what you can do for them, and it’s your job to tell them. Therefore, learn everything you can about the organization — its mission statement, products, training programs, history, current status, goals, finances, and anything else that seems relevant. Here’s how:
- Talk to people in the field or company. Use your network of contacts or LinkedIn to help identify people in your field of interest. Set up and conduct informational interviews.
- Research the company online. Being able to demonstrate knowledge about the company and industry shows effort and demonstrates passion.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to relieve any anxiety you might have and remain calm throughout the interview is to practice interviewing aloud — merely thinking about your answers isn’t enough.
- Practice answering sample interview questions (PDF) as well as asking the interviewer questions. Pepper your answers with short, relevant stories to convey your value and make yourself memorable.
- Practice using phrases such as, “Let me give you an example …” and “For instance, when I ….” In the workplace, past behavior is the best predictor of future performance.
- Talk about your jobs (paid or unpaid), internships, class projects, sports teams, and on-campus organizations.
- Practice getting to the point quickly. If asked, “Tell me about yourself,” focus immediately on job-related qualities and your interest in the position.
- Practice speaking without “ums,” “likes,” “you knows,” or other fillers.
- Ask a friend to help, or contact the CCC to set up a mock interview.
Know the Time and Place
Be absolutely certain of your appointment time and place — don’t hesitate to call and double-check, or to call for directions and parking instructions. Allow more than plenty of time to get there — bad traffic is not an excuse for being late. Far better to wait 30 minutes in your car or a coffee shop than arrive five minutes late!
Know the name of the person you will be talking to, and be able to spell and pronounce it correctly.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression! Therefore, be sure you are dressed appropriately.
Bring the Right Stuff
Carry a leather portfolio or folder containing several copies of your résumé, your list of references, and any other documents requested by the employer. Bring paper and pen, and consider jotting down a few reminders of what you want to say, and your questions for the interviewer. Don’t forget your portfolio or business cards, if you have them.
Get Help With Your Application Materials
Our career counselors are available to help you create and critique your résumé/CV, cover letter, reference list, portfolio, and thank-you letters. We can also advise you on professional etiquette and dressing for an interview.
In an interview for a PACCAR internship, Jake O’Leary was asked how many gas stations he’d passed on the way there.
CCC and the SPU Library
The SPU Library has a Subject Guide on Career, Vocation, & Calling that includes fantastic resources for preparing for interviews.