Paper Clips 1Guide to In-Person Interviews

Whether you are going to your first job interview or need to brush up on your interviewing skills for a mid-career job change, use this quick guide of do's and dont's to make a good impression.

  • Do your research – Know your prospective employer inside and out. Become familiar with their mission statement, core values, campus culture, and organizational structure. Incorporate these pieces of knowledge into your interview answers and conversations with your perspective employer.
  • Develop scenarios – Review the job description and make a list of the skills needed to perform the job effectively. Develop specific scenarios from your prior work and educational experiences that demonstrate how you possess those skills.
  • Practice, practice, practice – Schedule an appointment with a career coach, ask a friend to help, or find a quiet place to practice your interview answers. Don’t try to memorize your answers. Instead, make a mental outline of your key points.
  • Relate it back – Always relate your interview answers back to the position for which you are applying. Don’t make them guess; tell your interviewer how your experiences will benefit their organization.
  • Ask questions – Most interviewers will allow time at the end of the interview to answer any questions you may have. Take advantage of this opportunity and have questions ready to ask. Be careful not to ask for information that was already communicated to you or was readily available on their website.
  • Business CardMake eye contact Make an appropriate amount of eye contact with your interviewer. In other words, don’t stare them down, but also don’t look down or elsewhere when you are answering interview questions. Doing so may give them the impression that you are not confident in what you are saying or that you are not engaged in the interview. When more than one interviewer is present, be sure to address all individuals rather than focusing on one person. Remember that each person in the room is interested in your response, not just the individual asking the question.
  • Shake hands – A good first impression begins with a firm handshake. Practice your handshake prior to your interview.
  • Show your interest – Throughout the interview process, show your enthusiasm for the position. Tell your prospective employer what attracts you to their institution and the position for which you are applying. Be genuine. If you are not truly interested in the position, do not accept the interview.
  • Don’t ramble – Keep your interview answers to a reasonable length. Rambling can be just as harmful as not providing specifics. Your answers should be well thought out and organized.
  • Think before you speak – Remember that it is OK to pause for a moment to collect your thoughts. Doing so will help you present a more clear and constructed answer.
  • Be early – Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the interview location. If possible, drive by the area the day before to locate the address, assess the parking situation, and estimate the walking distance. Being late to an interview can be detrimental and may just cost you the job.
  • Dress appropriately – More often than not, a suit is the appropriate attire for a professional job interview. Err on the side of being overdressed. If you feel a suit is too formal, you can always remove your jacket to convert to business casual attire. Click here for more interview attire tips.
  • Bring extra copies – Make extra copies of your resume and references to bring with you to the interview—they may come in handy.
  • Say thank you – Follow up your interview with a thank-you letter. The interviewer will appreciate the extra effort. Plus, it’s one more time that the interviewer will see your name.


Updated May 8, 2015