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How To Interview

Interviewing can be stressful, even for seasoned professionals. The best way to succeed and reduce stress is to be well-prepared. Follow these steps to properly prepare for an interview.

You can check out these videos with interview tips from an employer: How to Ace Your Face-to-Face Interview, brought to you by CandidCareer.

Steps to Prepare for a Great Interview Experience

It’s important to research a company or organization before you apply for a position so that you can:

  1. Determine if you would like to work for the organization.
  2. See how you would fit into the culture.
  3. Articulate how your skills, abilities, interests and values match their needs. 
  4. Learn about the organization's customers, products and services.
  5. Identify what questions you may want to ask during the interview.

Where to research?

  1. Organization's website
  2. Google
  3. Social media: LinkedIn, X, Facebook, etc.
  4. Connect with current and former employees
  5. Read reviews for the company from customers and employees on Google, Indeed, Yelp, Glassdoor, etc.

What to research?

  1. Mission, vision and values
  2. Strategic plan or goals
  3. Products and/or services
  4. Competitors
  5. Recent news
  6. Reputation

One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to practice. Anticipate interview questions and write out your responses to those questions to reduce stress during an interview.

After you have written your responses, rehearse your responses out loud in front of a mirror or with a friend (ask for feedback). Below are some potential interview questions and a quick internet search will provide more sample interview questions for your specific field.

  1. Tell us about yourself.
  2. Tell us what you know about our organization.
  3. Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
  4. Why do you want to work for this organization?
  5. Are you a team player?
  6. What motivates you to do a good job?
  7. Tell us about your ability to work under pressure.
  8. What experience do you have in this field?
  9. Tell us about a time when your values and the values of an organization did not align.
  10. How have you handled a disagreement with your supervisor/co-worker?
  11. Tell us about a time when you had to work with a difficult person.
  12. Tell us about a time you made a mistake.
  13. Describe a difficult decision you had to make.
  14. Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

Writing out your responses to potential interview questions takes time but it will help ensure you won’t forget to mention any of your talents, skills and abilities.

Use the STARL Technique to frame your responses:

S = Situation: What was the situation? Who was involved? What was the timeframe?
T = Task: What needed to be done? What were the challenges? What were the expectations?
A = Action: What steps did you take? Who assisted you? Why did you take those steps?
R = Results: Explain the results. Provide accomplishments.
L = Lesson Learned: Discuss what the experience taught you. How are you different now because of the experience? What would you do differently?

Identify the top five tasks or qualifications that were listed in the job description. Using the STARL Technique, write down how you fulfill or satisfy each. Bring these responses with you to the interview for reference.

Schedule time with a career coach to help you match your experience with the job listing by emailing

Get Interview Advice from a Career Expert: How to Ace Behavioral Interviews, brought to you by CandidCareer.

At the end of most interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions and you should have relevant questions prepared.

This is an opportunity to see if the organization and the position are right for you. It also demonstrates your interest in the organization and that you took time to research.

Sample questions:

  • Would you please share with me what a typical day looks like for this position?
  • How does this position contribute to meeting the organization's mission/goals?
  • Is this a new position, or am I replacing someone?
  • What are the expectations for this position during the (first days, months, year)?
  • Can you describe the culture of the company?
  • Why do you like working here?
  • What is the first task that will need to be completed or addressed?
  • What is the next step?

A mock interview can be really helpful practice, and to help settle those interview jitters. To set one up or for help as you prepare to interview, schedule an appointment with a career coach today!

Additional interview preparation resources:
Linkedin Interview Preparation 

Learn what to wear to your interview with these dos and don'ts for your industry.

Download the What To Wear To An Interview Graphic.

Deciding what to wear can be as stressful as the interview itself, so prepare by choosing your outfit in advance. When in doubt, go for a more conservative business style and clothing should be cleaned, pressed and fit well. Try on the outfit before the interview so you know you will be comfortable in it.

Local sources for free and low-cost business attire: 

Dress for Success: 

  • Bottoms
    • Black, grey or navy dress pants
  • Top
    • Buttoned-down dress shirt
    • Tie
    • Suit jacket
    • Blouse 
    • Sweater set
  • Shoes
    • Dress shoes that match pants
    • Cleaned
    • Polished
  • Grooming - good hygiene is important
    • Hair - washed, styled and polished
    • Facial hair - trimmed
    • Accessories - minimal
    • Avoid strong-smelling cologne or perfume
    • Avoid smoking or eating before an interview

To ease the stress on interview day, find the location in advance so you can see traffic conditions, identify parking and find the building without being rushed. This helps you anticipate the time to the location to ensure you show up on time.

If you have a virtual interview, prepare in the following ways: 

  • A day before and an hour before the interview, make sure you have a strong internet connection and check your microphone and camera settings.
  • If your interview is over a platform like Zoom, make sure your software is updated. Also, double-check your settings to ensure your background and name is displayed appropriately. 
  • Interview in a private noise-free environment that is well-lit (avoid backlighting) and tidy. Double-check your camera’s view, what will the interviewer see?
  • Act as if it is an in-person interview. Sit in a chair and wear pants!

Video:  How to Ace Your Virtual Interview

The night before the interview, gather what you may need for the interview, such as:

  • Portfolio with pen and paper
  • Job description
  • Copy of submitted application packet
  • Master resume for reference
  • Resumes to distribute
  • Questions to ask
  • Official transcripts
  • Sample work
  • References

The Interview

Congratulations, it's interview day! You are ready because you have practiced and prepared. Remember, the company called you because it is interested in hiring you. You are qualified for the position.

The interview is the opportunity to see if you will fit in and for you to see if you would like to work there.

  • Arrive no more than 15 minutes early. Arriving any sooner may disrupt the interview schedule, compel staff to entertain you, and increase your nervousness as you wait.
  • Greet everyone with a smile and a great handshake. Be courteous and wait to be seated. Maintain good posture and make eye contact when answering questions. Breathe.
  • Be yourself.
  • Write the names and titles of the interview committee. Also, get the names of anyone else who helped you - the person who greeted you, the person who gave a tour, etc. These are people you will want to thank after your interview.

After the Interview

Within 24 hours, send a thank you note. Thank you notes can be handwritten or sent via email. The delivery method selected will depend on the timeline.

Thank you notes should reiterate your skills, how you fit with the company and position, and your desire for the job. Be gracious and genuine.