After cultivating skills and contacts, perfecting your resume, and finding the job you want, the interview is the last and most important step between you and a job offer. This section breaks down how you can prepare to present your best face to your potential employers.
Before the Interview
Interview Questions Prep
- Navy blue or dark grey suit
- White dress shirt
- Conservative tie
- Black wing-tips or tasseled loafers
- Well-groomed hair / facial hair
- Avoid cologne.
- Cover tattoos and piercings (except for ear piercings).
- Avoid flashy jewelry
- Small, functional briefcase or attaché
- Conservatively colored / tailored pantsuit / skirt
- Conservative dress shirt
- Medium height, closed toed pump in black, navy, or brown.
- Conservative jewelry
- Appropriately styled hair, conservative makeup
Familiarize yourself with your interviewer:
- Prepare a folder with several copies of your resume, cover letter and references. Bring several business cards
- Familiarize yourself with the interview location, including how you will get there and how long the trip will take. Plan on arriving at least fifteen minutes early.
Consider the types of questions the interviewer might ask and think about how you might answer the questions. Here are a few questions to help get you started on the process:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? What interests you about our company?
- What are your long-range and short-term goals, and how are you preparing to meet them?
- How has your graduate school experience prepared you for a career?
- Do you have plans for further study/advanced degree?
- How would you describe yourself?
- In what ways can you make a contribution to our company?
- How do you evaluate success?
- What major problems have you ever encountered and how did you deal with them?
- Give an example of a mistake that you have made and describe what you learned from it.
- How do you work under pressure?
- What kind of work environment do you prosper in?
- What 2 or 3 characteristics are most important for you when choosing a career?
- What qualifications do you have that make you appropriate for this position?
Prepare questions: You can demonstrate your interest in working with an employer by coming prepared with targeted questions about the position and the organization. Here are some examples.
- On your website I noticed __________. How might someone get involved in that project or others like it?
- Can you describe the 'ideal candidate' for this position?
- What are the greatest challenges in this position?
- What are the best ways to approach these challenges?
- What are some of the long/short term goals you would like to see accomplished?
During the Interview
Greeting: Smile. shake hands firmly, but not too firmly. Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright and look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener. Maintain good eye contact.
This is the 'ice-breaking' portion of the interview. The interviewer will generally set the tone, attempting to establish a positive atmosphere and put you at ease. First impressions will be influenced by your appearance and manner. Remember, the overall evaluation of you as a candidate begins the moment the interviewer greets you.
This portion of the interview deals with a request for specific information. The interviewer will try to determine your qualifications and how to match these with particular job openings.
Answer questions thoroughly, concisely, and honestly. Do not be afraid to take a few moments to organize your thoughts before answering the interviewer’s question
Come to the interview prepared to discuss your immediate and long-range career objectives and be ready to communicate them clearly.
DO NOT bring up salary in the initial interview. Let the interviewer bring up the subject of money.
This is your chance to interview them, too. Be prepared to ask intelligent questions that will show your interest and knowledge about the company—these questions may set you apart from other candidates. Prepare questions that will determine if they are a match for you. Avoid writing notes during the interview.
Before leaving the interview, be certain you know what the next step will be: Will the interviewer contact you? Or will you make the next contact? If so, make sure you get the information you need to follow up.
Ask if there is anything else you can provide, such as references or background information.
Re-state your interest in the position.
Follow up with thanks
Immediately after your interview, write a letter or email thanking your interviewer for speaking with you, reaffirming your interest in the position, and quickly highlighting your major strengths. End with a reference to whatever action will follow.
Phone interviews present particular challenges for interviewees since you lack face-to-face interaction. Before your phone interview, make sure you are in a quiet space where you can avoid interruptions. The LBJ School can provide phones and rooms for interviews. Have a glass of water and note-taking materials at hand for your phone interviews.