General Interviewing Tips

How to Prepare

Preparing for an interview takes time. Make sure you not only are ready for the actual interview (questions, dress, etc.), but also have the resources you need to be successful.

Resources

Career and Professional Development has resources you may need for any type of interview. Our available resources include:

  • Skype room
  • Phone available for phone interviews
  • 8 private rooms for virtual, phone, or Skype interviews
  • Practice interviews with Career Advisors. Schedule via Handshake
  • Self-practice interviews on InterviewStream

Visit our office to reserve the resources you need or send us an email with your reservation request.

Interview

  • Know yourself, including the values, interests, and skills that you want to highlight.
  • Be able to articulate why you want the position and why you are qualified and a good fit.
  • Know the company/organization and the industry. Read websites, company literature, press releases and current news.
  • Talk to people that work for the company - contact W&L alumni!
  • Prepare questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview.
  • Check out Spotlight, it is a great resource for interview preparation.

Interviewing questions can also be found in Handshake

50 Most Common Interview Questions - from Glassdoor

What to Expect

Resume-based Questions

Be prepared to talk about everything on your resume. Anything that is listed is fair game as a question during an interview whether it is phone, in-person, or via Skype. Use these questions as an opportunity to further explain work experience, leadership, or interests. 

If the interviewer asks you to walk through your resume, use this time to guide the interviewer towards what you would like to talk about. You should not cover everything on your resume. Narrow down your resume to 2-4 work or leadership experiences in order to highlight things you deem most important as well as avoid talking for too long. Practice! While your resume should be the easiest thing to talk about, you want to be sure you have prepared and practiced what you would like to say and what point you are trying to get across.

Your response should resemble an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a quick 1 minute (or less) prepared, persuasive speech that should be used to spark interest in you. Your "walk me through your resume" response can range from 1-3 minutes. Focus on your accomplishments and the skills that allowed you to achieve those successes. Take advantage of the opportunity to drive home your skills and qualifications.  Avoid repeating what is written on your resume aloud.  

Behavioral Questions

This style is based on the assumption that a person's past performance is the best predictor of future performance. You will often hear questions that begin, "Tell me about a time when..." and ask about your leadership experiences, how you handle conflict, and other performance-related areas. These are open-ended questions, and you should provide a detailed response. Practice answering questions using the STAR technique:

  • S - Situation (Provide context)
  • T - Task (Say what you were trying to accomplish or the task at hand)
  • A - Action (Tell the interviewer what YOU did)
  • R - Results (Explain the outcome, even if it was not what you expected)

Interview Day

  • Arrive early.
  • Be nice and respectful to everyone you meet. 
  • Dress as a professional; a business suit is recommended.
  • Use a firm handshake and make good eye contact
  • Be sure to know the interviewer's name; ask for a business card if needed.

Interview Dos and Don'ts

Do

  • Know what job you are interviewing for. Research the company for specifics.
  • Dress for the job and err on the side over conservatism and over-dressed.
  • Practice, if possible. Contact Career and Professional Development to practice with a Career Advisor.
  • If you are having a phone or Skype interview, make sure you are in a place where you can read notes, take notes, and concentrate.
  • Bring copies of your resume.
  • Ask for a moment to think if you cannot answer a question immediately.
  • Create a strong finish for your interview by asking thoughtful questions.
  • Show your enthusiasm and excitement to be interviewing.

Don't

  • Feel you have to fill in silence. If you have completed a response, but the interviewer has not asked his or her next question, do not start babbling just to fill in airtime. Instead, wait patiently for the interviewer to finish taking notes or ask a question of your own related to your last response.
  • Chew gum.
  • Snuffle, sneeze or cough. If you cannot avoid these behaviors, say "excuse me."
  • Interrupt the interviewer.
  • Be confined by your resume. Use stories and details to bring your accomplishments to life.
  • Say anything negative about past employers, co-workers, or classmates.

After the Interview

  • Write each interviewer a thank you note within 48 hours. Email is acceptable.
  • Take notes on high and low points.
  • Evaluate and consider the position and the organization - is this a good choice for you?