Interview Preparation

The gateway to securing a job is through the interview. There are several types of interviews: phone, video, and face-to-face. You may be involved in more than one of these during the interview process depending on the position for which you are applying. It is important to be prepared for all types, especially a face-to-face interview.

Phone: Phone interviews require as much preparation as a face-to-face interview. It is important that you do your research about the company and prepare answers to common interview questions. Phone interviews are typically used to narrow the candidate pool and to determine whether a face-to-face interview will be conducted. For all interview formats, it is important that you conduct a mock interview to practice your answers and presence. When on a phone interview be sure to do the following:

  • Check your surroundings to make sure you are in a quiet place.
  • Ensure that your phone is fully charged.
  • Wherever possible, use a landline. If not, ensure that the area in which you will conduct your interview has adequate cell phone service.
  • Use a headset with a microphone, if using a mobile device.

Video: Video interviews have become increasingly popular over the last few years. In preparation, ensure that you have accounts with the most commonly used modes, which include Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts. It is important to treat a video interview in the same way that you would a face-to-face interview.

  • Dress professionally.
  • Log in to the platform being used ahead of time to ensure that you are able to log in properly.
  • Check your audio and video settings ahead of time.
  • Ensure that your computer is plugged in and that you have adequate internet coverage. Use a headset.
  • Ensure that you are in a quiet place and the background of where you will be sitting is appealing, but not distracting.
  • During the interview, when answering questions, try as best as possible to look into the camera and not at the person/people on the screen. This helps you to appear to be looking directly at the person/people instead of down at the screen.

General Interview Guidelines

Before the interview

Document your experiences

  • Make a list of all your professional accomplishments
  • Include volunteer experiences, extra-curricular activities
  • Note dates, locations, and brief descriptions of what you did, how you did it, and the end results
  • Study this list and come up a short way to express each experience
  • Be prepared to use them as examples to answer questions during the interview

Research the industry, company, and job description

  • Use internet resources or the library to find out about the company: its mission, vision, number of employees, locations etc. Is there any significant news about them? Any major changes? Major challenges? The names of directors, managers, CEOs, owners
  • Talk to current employees if you can
  • Study the job description. Be prepared to talk about how you meet the requirements

Do a mock interview

  • Review commonly asked interview questions and prepare/practice answers
  • Practice your answers out loud by yourself and with someone else for feedback
  • Prepare questions to ask the employer

Create a list of references

  • Identify professional references (former employers, co-workers)
  • Contact your references and let them know that you’re applying for jobs. Ask if they can provide you with a positive reference and if so, can you list them on your applications. Let them know what kind of positions you are applying for. You may even send them copies of the job descriptions.

Find out the date, time, and place of the interview

  • Make sure you know exactly where the interview is located
  • If the interview is in an area that you are not familiar with, try to visit it the day before so that you know exactly where you are going
  • Be sure to get the full name of the interviewer(s) beforehand (Ask the person who contacts you who you should ask for when you arrive)
  • Prepare your schedule so that you arrive 10-15 minutes early. Take traffic, bus schedules, and another other possible delays into consideration

Prepare your attire (Face-to-face)

  • Make sure your clothes fit properly
  • Women and men: dark-colored suits (matching suit – top and bottom) Acceptable colors: Black, grey, dark brown, navy
  • Also acceptable for women: dark-colored skirts/pants and a formal blouse
  • Also acceptable for men: dark-colored pants and button-down, plain, long sleeve shirt and tie
  • Women: avoid short skirts, tight-fitting clothes, and blouses with low cuts. Wear minimal jewelry (studs or small hoops, plain necklace, no more than one ring and/or bracelet); minimal, natural-looking makeup (earth tones – avoid bright colored eyeliner, lipstick, and nail polish); conservative hairstyle (avoid bright hair colors and flashy hairstyles). Wear a conservative shoe, solid color – either black or brown. (Avoid heels that are too high). Note: This the standard form of dress for traditional job interviews. There are exceptions depending on the position for which one is applying. For example, there are positions that may require you to display your sense of style and creativity in your interview attire. It is important to note that these suggestions allow the interviewer to focus on what’s important – your answers to questions and nothing else. This form of dress typically works to removes distractions.
  • Avoid perfume.
  • Men: clean and conservative shoes

During the Interview (face-to-face)

  • Bring copies of your resume, cover letter, and list of references (on resume paper!)
  • Bring something to write with and write on. You and write down your questions to ask on a notepad.
  • Smile and have a good handshake.
  • Turn your cell phone completely off
  • Be prepared to engage in small talk as you walk to the interview room or before you begin the interview. (Look around the room for interesting things to talk about)
  • Make eye contact
  • Be aware of your posture. Sit up straight. Sit forward a little in the chair to prevent slouching. (Women, cross your legs at the ankles).
  • Be aware of your body language. Maintain eye contact at all times. Beware of big hand movements, fidgeting, foot shaking/tapping etc.
  • Speak clearly and confidently. Be aware of your volume.
  • Listen carefully so that questions are answered appropriately
  • Do not chew gum.
  • When answering questions, try to speak positively about your past experiences and employers.
  • Be positive and upbeat.
  • Always ask questions. Prepare at least three questions about the job or company to ask the employer.
  • Use Standard English.
  • Give detailed answers with examples. Use the STAR method to formulate your answers: 1. Situation or Task that you were involved in, 2. Explain your role or what Action you took, 3. Talk about the Results you achieved.
  • Ask questions! Prepare questions to ask ahead of time. Questions should come from your research and careful review of the job description. Refrain from asking surface or obvious questions. This is your chance to find out if the position or company is a good fit for you. 

After the Interview

  • Find out about the next steps in the interview process
  • Get the business cards of each person (contact information) in the interview
  • Say thank you. Send a Thank you letter/email/hand-written card to each person in the interview within 24-48 hours of the interview. (See the Sample Thank You Letter in this packet).
  • Follow-up by calling or emailing the interviewer if the time in which they said they would contact you has passed

Download the Interview Preparation Guide