How to Prepare and Practice
Answer recorded questions. Reduce interview anxiety and gain a competitive edge.
Review the Job Description
Review the skills and qualifications required. Prepare concrete examples of how your past experiences, skills and abilities align with the job description. Strategize ways to address skills you still need to develop.
Know the Organization
Research the organization’s website and understand the mission of the company. Note any important details (new products or services, news, acquisitions, etc.) as they could be mentioned in the interview.
Read the annual report and company literature you can find, attend on-campus information sessions and meet representatives at internship and career fairs. Read newspapers, industry trade journals, and relevant websites, and listen to the news to keep informed about trends. It is not necessary to memorize but your familiarity will be helpful in an interview.
Know the Interview Details
When scheduling the interview, clarify interview details. If you have further questions, it's okay to contact human resources or the person who contacted you initially. You may want to confirm:
- The type of interview: “Is it a panel interview? Should I bring writing samples to the interview?” or “Are tests a component of the interview?”
- The length of the interview: “How much time should I allow for the interview?” If considering scheduling multiple interviews in one day, this will be important to know.
- Accurate directions to the interview location. Check the directions using multiple sources.
- Review your resume and cover letter to prepare examples.
- Bring multiple copies of your resume, references, and any other materials requested.
- Prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview if requested.
Practice answering questions before the interview. Here are suggestions:
- Review commonly asked interview questions.
- Record yourself (audio or visual) to practice.
- Eliminate filler words such as “um,” “like” and “you know.” Practice speaking slowly and clearly.
- Write down your answers or outline the points you want to cover.
- If an employer asks a question you aren’t prepared for, take a second to think or ask for the question to be repeated.
- Practice interviewing in AJL and ask for feedback about your performance.
- Review and select some challenging experience that reflects positively on your behavior including work situations, project-based or team work, campus activities, community service and leadership experience. Employers are investigating how you deal with problems, failures, difficult teams or supervisors.
- Focus on your strengths and positive attributes, without complaining or criticizing others.
- Brainstorm examples and accomplishments from each experience. How did you handle problems, show initiative and contribute to the outcome?
- Use the S.A.R. method to help you form an example:
- Situation. What problem or challenge did you encounter?
- Action. What did you do to address this problem or challenge?
- Results. What were the results of your actions?
- Present examples of how you solved a problem, addressed a challenge or completed a task and tie it to the job.
- Expect the employer to ask open-ended questions about a past experience and then continue to ask questions that reveal any of the following:
- Communication skills, leadership and organizational ability
- Analytical and problem solving skills
- Your decision-making process
- Cooperative and/or competitive nature
- Initiative, flexibility, creativity
- Be honest. Don’t exaggerate. Your answers will be reviewed for consistency.
- Practice. Draw from several types of experiences to show depth.