Question of the Week #4: I have interviews coming up. What’s the best way for me to prepare?


“I have interviews coming up. What’s the best way for me to prepare?”
– Amina Yamusah ‘13

Great question, Amina! I am so glad that you asked this question.  Preparing for interviews is an absolute must!  You never want to go into an interview unprepared. Interviewers will pick up on this and will certainly not be impressed.  Even the most qualified job applicants can be turned down because of their lack of preparedness for what the interview will entail. Here are some important steps that you can take so that you will be adequately prepared and feel confident on the day of your interview!

Research the organization.  You should walk into an interview with some basic knowledge of what the organization does, how well it is doing, and its standing within the industry. Look for interesting facts about the company as well current news, recent press releases, and stock trends.  It will be beneficial for you to find out about the company’s newest products, projects or services. I also recommend connecting with the company via Facebook and Twitter. This is an easy way to find out how the organization is engaging with the public. After you do this, identify two key facts you can bring up during the interview and at least two questions you have for the company. Make sure to write them down on a piece of paper that you can bring into the interview. Don’t try to memorize them (you may be nervous and forget all the cool stuff you learned during your research).  Finally, you should know why you want to work for the organization you are interviewing for. Many interviews often start with the question “Why do you want to work here?” Take some time to synthesize all that you have learned about the company. What interests you the most? Create a two- liner that encapsulates how your skills, talents, and experience will ultimately serve as a future asset to the organization. 

Be prepared to talk about yourself.  Employers want to know about you–as a person! Take a few moments to jot down information about your education, work experience, and key strengths that really make you unique.  When talking about your education, highlight some of your academic experiences, mention memberships, extracurricular activities, and leadership roles you might have held. Talk about a topic that you are passionate about. Show how your experience thus far has helped you grow this passion.  Remember to let your personality shine through!

Know how you fit in.  Employers are looking for the best fit for their organizations. Some of the ways that you can find out how your personal qualities might align with that of the company you are interviewing for is by evaluating the employer’s mission statement.  Think of personal qualities in yourself that match their company values. Make a list of three personality traits that you will be sure to highlight in the interview. Oftentimes, interviewers ask interviewees how they will be an asset to the organization. If you already have a list, you’ll be one step ahead.

Match skills with job description. Make sure to review the job description for the position you are applying for before you interview. Reflect on the desired knowledge, skills, and abilities that the employer is looking for you. Comb your resume and past experience for examples that show how you are qualified for the position. An easy way to do this is by creating a list of employer requirements, followed by a “prove- it” statement that highlights your unique selling points for each employer requirement. Make sure these examples are specific. Also, you might want to prepare stories that showcase how you handled a unique situation, problem, or objective. Be sure to include the actions you took to resolve this problem and the results accomplished. Accomplishments should be quantified whenever possible. Also, remember to note any special recognition or award you received because of your work!

Set up a mock interview.  The career counselors at Career Services are a great resource for you to practice all of the above.  Our counselors will meet with you and conduct a “mock” interview. Afterwards, they will give you feedback and advice on what steps you can take to sharpen your interview skills. Make sure you set up an appointment with one of our counselors, if you haven’t already.

I hope you find this information useful, Amina. Good luck with your upcoming interviews!

(The information above contains excerpts from the Pre-Interview Worksheet written by Eva Kubu.)