Prepare for an Interview

Preparing for an Interview

When employers hold interviews, they want to understand your level of interest, confirm your qualifications, and see if you would be a good fit for the position and their organization. The interview is your opportunity to give more detail about what you’ve included on your resume and in your cover letter and prove that you’ll be successful in the role.

Research the position

Find out as much as possible about the role you are applying for. We recommend saving the job description when you apply so you can refer to it during your interview prep and match your actual experience to the job qualifications.

Research the company

It’s expected by employers that you know something about the company you’re applying to work at. Research on the company’s website, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or other relevant sites to learn more about the company. You’ll want to know the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the company’s mission, vision, and values?
  • Where is the company operated out of? Is there a headquarters, multiple locations, etc.?
  • What does the company do? Do they provide a specific service, manufacture a product, etc.?
  • Who are the company’s customers?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • Is the company family owned, a small business, publicly traded, a non-profit, or government run?
  • What is the office culture or organizational structure? Is there a CEO, president, or director of the company?
  • What makes the company unique?
  • Are there recent news stories or changes that have occurred regarding the organization?
  • What departments, projects, and/or products interest you? Why?

You may not be asked any of these questions directly during the interview, but it’s important to have this information available to you to pull from. You might want to get creative and add this information to your answers when relevant!

Know yourself

From what you know of the job description and about the organization, spend some time thinking about what skills and traits are needed for the position. Then consider your experience, skills, and strengths in terms of the internship or job requirements. Consider specific examples that illustrate how your skills meet those requirements, how you have demonstrated those skills, and how you could benefit the employer.

Look up commonly asked interview questions, either in our provided guide or elsewhere online. It’s okay if you feel nervous – remember that that nervousness will not make you appear like a less preferred candidate; the answer to the questions are what matters.

It may feel uncomfortable, but practicing your answers in front of another person, such as a friend or someone in the Strommen Center, can help you figure out how to phrase your answers. You can also practice in front of a mirror or by recording yourself and listening to your answers as well.

STAR answers to behavioral questions

These kinds of interview questions require a bit of storytelling as they ask you to tell about a specific example from your life. It is hard to know exactly what kinds of behavioral questions an interviewer may ask, but reviewing the job description may help you anticipate them.

  • Here are a few examples of behavioral questions:
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work towards an uncertain goal.
  • Describe an example of a time when you encountered a conflict in the workplace.
  • Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership.
  • When was the last time you came up with a creative solution to a problem?
  • What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?

Answering these questions using the STAR method explains:
S – situation that you were in
T – task that you were presented with
A – action you took to accomplish the task
R – results that occurred

Answering in this method can help the interviewer clearly see how you react in certain situations and how you may behave in the future.

STAR example

You are asked about a time you used teamwork so you select an example from your internship.

SituationTaskActionResults
Set the stage- describe a specific experience, not a general daily actionDescribe the task or what you were trying to accomplishWhat actions did you take to complete the task?Describe the results and how it relates to the position you’re interviewing for.
I was part of a small team that provided outreach to high school students seeking afterschool tutoring.I volunteered to create the social media posts and physical flyers that would be shared at several local schools.I asked for feedback from my team members on the posts and flyers, and made sure that they had the support they needed on their tasks.Together, we were able to reach one hundred students regarding tutoring and, through my social media posts, we were able to sign up over thirty for an info session.

Come with questions of your own

Write down questions to ask the employer. Having follow-up questions of your own makes a good impression and allows you to learn more about the role and the company. Feel free to write them down in a notebook to have available at the end of the interview – most employers will see this as a sign of preparation and not be concerned with you having a notebook at the ready. Trouble coming up with questions? Check out our guide for ideas.

Thank you notes are prompt, personal replies to express your appreciation for an interview, restate your interest in the position, and summarize your qualifications. Sending a thank you note leaves a good impression and can sometimes be the deciding factor as to who is offered the position.

If you decide that you are no longer interested in the position, it is still common courtesy to send a thank you note. It also keeps the door open should you become interested in the organization sometime in the future or if the interviewer knows of another opportunity that may interest you.

Basic Guidelines

You should include all individuals you met with during your interview in the thank you note within one or two days of the interview. Previously, individual cards were physically sent as cards or business letters, but today, these thank you notes are generally sent by email. If you are concerned about locating the emails of the individuals you met with, you may ask for their business card. It may also be possible to submit thank you notes through recruiting platforms that schedule interviews and connect with the hiring team and HR.

Your note should be genuine and personalized and mention specifics of the interview (such as the date and time, and what was discussed). It should also mention what you think they are looking for in an candidate and express how you meet those needs.

Example

Dear Ms. Jamison,
Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the Systems Specialist position on August 7th, 2023. I enjoyed meeting you and learning more about your organization. I was excited to hear about the new software initiatives your team is taking on and it has further strengthened my interest in this role.

You indicated that you are looking for someone with experience both as designer and client specialist. I know that I am capable and knowledgeable in both areas and I am certain I could make a great impact on the project your team is beginning.

Again, thank you for your time as well as the stories about your personal web design – I loved hearing about your individual work in this field. I appreciate your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
Auggie Eagle

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