The interview is one of the most important steps in your job search. As an interviewee, you are primarily a salesperson and you are marketing yourself! It is during the interview that you will have a chance to talk positively about your skills and what you have to offer someone if they hire you. Since adequate preparation is the key to interview success, we recommend that you meet with a career counselor or use our online mock interview technology InterviewStream® (Note: Peirce students and alumni can use InterviewStream® one they have created accounts in PeirceLink). A mock interview is in essence a practice interview that allows you to answer questions and receive immediate feedback on your strengths and opportunities for growth.
Topics of Discussion During an Interview
- Your work experience, skills, abilities and education
- Your career goals and needs
- Your potential fit with a company and/or department
In general, most interviews are divided into these important components:
- 20% of the interview time is spent on ice breaking (making you comfortable)
- 40% of the interview time is spent on asking you questions
- 35% of the interview time is usually spent addressing your questions
- 5% of the interview time is spent closing the interview and discussing next steps (if any)
You are EXPECTED to ask questions during an interview. Failure to do so may show lack of preparation and interest. You should research the company prior to the interview and show up prepared with three to five relevant questions. You should also listen attentively during the interview so you can formulate questions that are aligned with the content of the interview.
How to Prepare for an Interview
Preparing for your job interview begins before you even show up. Yet, interviewers are continually amazed at the number of applicants who drift into job interviews without any apparent preparation. Feeling nervous prior to a job interview is normal, but there are things you can do to prepare yourself so you will be more comfortable and confident.
Things you can do to prepare for your interview:
- Take care of logistics. Know the exact location and time of the interview and the interviewer's name. Give yourself more than enough time to get to the interview. Be sure to have the telephone number of the company/organization in case of an emergency.
- Research the Company. Knowledge about the company better prepares you to ask and answer relevant questions.
When researching a company, consider the following:
- Size of company
- Array of product lines/services
- Number of branches or sites
- Location of home office
- Percent of growth in last five years
- Geographical locations
- Organizational structure
- Current market trends
- Arrive 10 to 15 Minutes Early
- Prepare 3 to 5 Questions
- Review Your Resume. Familiarize yourself with the content of your resume and consider the roles, duties or projects you wish to highlight. Be sure to select those that underscore skills and/or experience aligned with the job you are pursuing.
Phase 1: The Introduction
During this phase, the interviewer gains a first impression immediately. The interviewer will observe your appearance, professionalism, personality, and energy level. You have five minutes to make an impression! Make it a good one by remembering to:
- Dress professionally. Wear a conservative suit and conservative colors and stay away from distracting ties, attention-grabbing jewelry, strong scents, or gum
- Groom your hair. Whatever style you select, it should be neat and conservative
- Be punctual. Arrive 10-15 minutes early
- Turn off your cell phone. Do not check it or use it until you have left the interview.
- Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake
- Bring extra copies of your resume and a separate list of your professional references (at least 3)
- Bring your portfolio: include writing samples, published articles, spreadsheets, evaluations, etc., printed on good quality paper
Phase 2: The Interview Content
The interviewer is going to ask questions about your educational background and work experience. You will be evaluated on your ability to communicate not only specific information, but your ideas, your level of confidence, competence, and potential. Many interviewers will also assess your ability to use critical thinking skills.
Keep in mind that just as the interviewer is considering your potential fit with the company, you must consider the company's potential fit for you. Be sure to consider if the company's culture is aligned with your needs and if the role will provide you the fulfillment you are seeking in a job. If you are interested in career growth, you should consider the potential for your development as well. When interviewing, keep these things in mind:
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewer
- Use brief statements, but steer away from straight yes and no answers
- Be confident, honest, positive, relaxed and specific
- Think carefully before you speak; ask the interviewer questions if necessary
- Always show interest
- Speak clearly
- Don't speak unkindly of others
- Don't criticize yourself
- Volunteer any relevant information to the interview that hasn't been covered
- Ask questions that indicate your interest in the job (type of work you will be doing, how your performance will be evaluated, details on the training program or other aspects of the company operation)
- Avoid questions concerning salary or benefits. Allow the interviewer to initiate those topics
Closing the Interview
Assuming the interviewer is interested in you s/he may do a selling job on the company and talk about training, advancement, salary, and benefits. You may be asked if you have any final questions prior to the interview coming to a close. The interviewer will usually let you know what the next steps in the process are. If not, it is Ok to ask what they are.
CDS tips on interviewing:
- Express continued interest in the job or inform the interviewer if you are no longer interested in the job
- Ask the following questions:
- What's the next step in the interviewing process?
- When is a good time for me to follow up?
- Is there any reason why I would not be considered for this opportunity?
- Thank the interviewer and give another firm handshake
- Ask for a business card
- Send the interviewer(s) a thank you card within 24 hours after the interview. In some instances, you can follow-up via email.