The best interviews happen when you prepare well. Be ready to articulate your skills and qualifications that make you a great candidate for the position.
Plan what information you will share during the interview by researching the employer and the position. Then reflect on how your experiences align with the company, tailoring your key messages to their specific needs.
Research the Position
Know the position description in detail and be prepared to speak to your experiences that relate to the job responsibilities. You can also go to the company website and look into what current and past employees have to say. Conducting an informational interview is a great way to get insider information and learn what the company values in its employees.
Research the Organization
Find out the mission, values, and culture of the organization. Know their products, services, clients, and competitors. Look into your interviewer's professional interests and involvements. Then come prepared with tailored questions about the company.
- Glassdoor for company info, salary, and past interview questions
- LinkedIn for company info and links to employee profiles
- UMN Libraries Business Research
Practice & Prepare
Interviews don’t usually go as well the first time through. Find ways to practice up before the stakes are high. Start by checking out our Interview Questions Handout (PDF) to anticipate likely questions that will come your way along with tips to answer difficult questions.
Often interviews open with a general question like, “Tell me about yourself.” This is a great opportunity to share the most important info about your interests and qualifications. There are fundamentally two questions you must answer:
- Why are you interested in this position?
- How are you qualified (i.e. experience and education)?
You can also practice online and access a library of interviewing resources through InterviewStream.
The best interviews include specific examples of skills you have demonstrated that the employer is seeking. Most organizations ask what are called behavioral interview questions seeking specific examples from you because the best predictor of future performance is past behavior. Check out our Behavioral Interview Handout (PDF) for strategies to answer these difficult questions along with sample questions.
Employers want you to show genuine interest about their organization by asking thoughtful questions during the interview. Write down a list of questions and bring it with you to the interview. For ideas on what to ask and what to avoid check out our Asking Questions Handout (PDF).
Dress & Logistics
You want to dress wisely, in a way that makes sense for both the job itself as well as for your own personal identity. Get ideas from our Dress the Part Pinterest page.
If the interview is in person, know your route and arrive 15 minutes early. If your interview is remote, test out your set up the day before. Make sure your audio and camera are working. Getting these seemingly small details taken care of can help you avoid being thrown off the day of your interview.
After the Interview
Follow up by sending a thank you email to your interviewers, ideally within 24 hours. It is okay to email or call the employer to inquire about the status of the position if you have not heard from them. The timing of this communication should be based on the timeline they discussed with you at the end of the interview. If a time frame was not provided, contact them in one week to reiterate your interest in the position and ask for an update on the hiring timeline. You should continue actively job searching while you wait to hear back to ensure you have other options.