Alumni Career Services

Interview Tips

Arriving Appropriately – make a positive first impression by dressing a notch above the standard apparel (when in doubt about the dress code, ask beforehand), arriving early, and greeting everyone you encounter confidently.

Building rapport – the “small talk” that often starts your first encounter with an interviewer is a good way to build rapport; be prepared with some relevant and positive topics (not the weather!) to engage the conversation. 

Answering Questions – regardless of the interview format or type, follow these general tips:

  • Listen – It's important to listen carefully to the interviewer's questions, answering all questions to the best of your ability. Candidates often have a tendency to ramble and not provide the "meaty" answer the interviewer is looking for, so listen to exactly what is being asked.
  • Focus – Listen carefully to the question as it is asked. A helpful strategy is to repeat the question as you begin your response. This gives you an opportunity to focus your thoughts and it also marks a definite beginning of your answer.
  • Give Concise Answers – Be succinct and to the point.  If your answer drifts to another topics or is too long it leaves the interviewer with the impression that you are either unfocused or unable to give an appropriate response.  Use smart segues in your answer to bring the topic back to job opening under consideration.  And use concluding sentences which summarize your answer and signals the end of your response (or sometimes ask back to the interviewer “Did I answer your question?)..
  • Summarize Up Front – Deliver the central point at the beginning of your answer, then begin a full explanation or description. The average individual listens for only 30-45 seconds at a time, so get your point across quickly and succinctly.
  • Outline Format – Presenting your responses in outline form can be very effective. For example, if you are asked, "Why are you interested in our company?", a direct and effective format for your response is: "I want to work for your company for three reasons: Reason A is... Reason B is... and Reason C is..."
  • Ask clarifying questions – if you don’t completely understand a question, rephrase it back to the interviewer and check for accuracy (“So that I’m clear on your question, you’d like to know ____, is that right?”);  this technique can also give you an opportunity to gather your thoughts when you are unsure of how to begin your answer. 
  • Outline Format – Presenting your responses in outline form can be very effective. For example, if you are asked, "Why are you interested in our company?", a direct and effective format for your response is: "I want to work for your company for three reasons: Reason A is... Reason B is... and Reason C is..."

Closing Questions – you will often be asked “do you have any questions for me?” by your interviewer. Be prepared to ask intelligent, relevant questions that show you've done your research, that you've listened during the interview and that you are concerned with pertinent issues.

On Being Nervous – If you find yourself nervous during the interview, breathe deeply. Another trick is to "ground" yourself by noticing the feeling of your feet on the floor, or your hands on your lap. If you need a few moments to think while you formulate your answer, take them. It's okay to break eye contact; in fact, most people look away while they are thinking. Even if you have prepared your answer and you know exactly what you are going to say, it's still important to pause and be reflective. Otherwise you may appear "canned". 

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