Interview Tips

Tips for Success

An interview can potentially “make-or-break” whether you land a job. Looking great on paper has to translate into looking great in person and making an employer feel that you are the right fit for the position. Preparing for an interview is key to acing an interview.

Interview Basics

  • Check in for your interview 10 minutes prior to time.
  • Give yourself a few moments to review any questions you have for the employer and go into the interview relaxed and confident.
  • Bring several extra copies of your resume and references.
  • For you own reference, bring a list of questions and notes about the company or the position.

The interview starts as soon as you walk through the employer’s door. Within the first 30 seconds, your potential employer will make a judgment about you.

  • Dress professionally, make eye contact, smile, shake hands and introduce yourself.
  • Don’t sit down until invited to do so and sit up straight.
  • Remember if they ask you to “tell me a little about yourself,” this is not your personal history. Be brief (2-3 minute overview) highlighting your strengths and most important accomplishments.
  • Be open. Ask questions and approach the interview like a conversation.
  • If you get a tough question, it’s ok to pause and collect your thoughts or ask for clarification if you don’t understand. Occasionally you will get a multi-part question and may have to ask them to repeat a section.
  • Be positive and honest when answering questions. Stretching the truth or embellishing will only lead to problems down the road.

Tip: Use the STAR method when asked behavior-based questions.
Situation/Task, Action and Results:

  • Outline the situation/task
  • Explain the actions you took
  • Share the results

This is where you can show that you researched the position and the organization. Employers will typically close the process by asking if you have any questions for them.

  • Always be ready to ask intelligent questions, referencing your notes.
  • Bring a list of questions and make sure they are not questions that can be found by researching the company.
  • Thank the interviewer(s) and reaffirm your interest in the position.
  • Ask for a business card so you can send a short personal letter/email of thanks to your interviewer and anyone else involved in the interview process.
  • Send your Thank You with 24-48 hours of the meeting.
  • Interviewers appreciate sincerity and personalization. Your note should reference something specific about the discussion.
  • Don’t forget to highlight your qualifications one last time, convey your enthusiasm for the position and ask about the next steps in the process if they have not been addressed.

Attire Tips

  • Hygiene is a must! Remember to shower, groom, wear deodorant and brush your teeth.
  • Arrive pressed and ready to impress.
  • Shoes should be in good condition, shined and no scuffs.
  • Dress conservatively and appropriately for the position.
  • Clothes need to fit properly. Not too tight or too loose.
  • Dress up more than would be expected on a day to day basis in the office.

Tip: Different industries have different dress code standards. Business sectors will expect a suit, but a job in parks and recreation may be overdressed in a suit. Ask Career Services for advice.

  • Well-tailored suits (pants or a skirt) should have a good fit.
  • Dark or neutral suit and tie, or a blazer and dress shirt.
  • Stick to dark and neutral colors such as black, navy or gray.
  • Choose a conservative tie. Colorful is ok but no loud prints or neon colors.
  • Be mindful of skirt length. Skirts should fall just above the knee.
  • “unsuited” business attire can give you a professional look even if you don’t have access to a well-fitting suit. A nice pair of slacks can be paired with a blouse, sweater or a tailored button-down shirt.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts, even when it is 100 degrees outside!
  • No plunging or revealing necklines.
  • No leggings or yoga pants –

Tip: Have a backup outfit or shirt on hand and ready to go! You never know when you might get a smudge or lose a button.

  • Choose a dark or neutral dress shoe. No stilettos, strappy sandals or platform pumps.
  • Wear dress socks, not white socks. Make sure they are long enough that your leg does not show if you cross your legs.
  • Make sure regular hair and facial hair is well groomed.
  • Trim and clean nails.
  • Keep jewelry simple. Do not wear jewelry that makes noise or that is big and distracting.
  • Tuck in your shirt and wear a belt. When in doubt, match the belt to your shoe color.
  • Keep visible piercings to earring only (one in each ear).
  • Stick to a conservative look rather than trendy. This is not the time to push the fashion envelope or try to make a statement.
  • Avoid scented lotions, cologne or perfume.
  • Jeans, tees, caps and sneakers are not okay!
  • Wrinkled or stained clothing.
  • Ill-fitting items.
  • Missing buttons or frayed hems.

Interview Clothing Closet

Have an interview coming up and need help making a great first impression? Let us help you dress for success with our selection of free, professional interview clothing. Email to set up a time to view the Interview Clothing Closet, located in Sparks Hall.