Interview Tips

Before the Interview

  • Research the company! It is crucial to know some basic information about the company that is interviewing you. You should at least know the following : Who they are, what they do, where they do it, why they do it, and how you can fit in. Click here for more information on how to research companies.

  • Practice thoughtful answers to anticipated questions.  Do a videotaped mock interview with the ACPC.

  • Dress appropriately.  Ask ACPC staff if you are not sure.

  • Use minimal or no cologne or perfume and do not go to an interview smelling like cigarette smoke.

  • Don't have gum, mints or cough drops, etc. in your mouth.

  • Bring extra resumes and your career portfolio, if appropriate.

  • Arrive early, 10-15 minutes before the interview starts.

  • Read company materials while you wait.

  • Relax: A little nervousness is normal, but too much makes everyone uncomfortable.

  • When the interviewer comes to get you: Stand up, smile, and introduce yourself in a positive, courteous manner; Give a firm handshake, without crushing the interviewer's hand.

During the Interview

  • Convey optimism and enthusiasm to the employer, especially during the informal conversation on the way back to the interview room.  Many employers form a lasting first impression from the way you act during the first five minutes.

  • Make good eye contact, but do not stare at the employer.

  • Use the interviewer's name (use Mr. or Ms. and last name) during the interview.

  • Listen to how you are speaking (not too quickly, not too slowly).

  • Use good grammar... "yes," not "yeah" or "yup" and avoid "uhs" and "ums."

  • Use body language to show interest.

  • Smile, nod, and give nonverbal feedback to the interviewer.

  • Be honest and brief when answering questions, but with enough detail to support your answer.  Some interviewers say candidates can undersell themselves by being too brief.

  • Use action words to describe your abilities and experiences.

  • Give detailed examples to strengthen your candidacy.  Be a STAR-Situation, Task, Action, Results.  Some employers use behavioral interviewing, like "Tell me about a time when you had to lead a team."  They want a specific example.  Even with regular interviews, using STAR examples is much stronger; think to yourself, "Let me tell you about a time when."

  • Answer negative questions with positive points.

  • When asked if YOU have any questions for them, be sure to have some ready. Write out several ahead of time. Start with position responsibilities, requirements for advancement, what qualities they are looking for in a candidate, etc.

    Click here for possible questions you could be asked during an interview and sample questions YOU can ask during an interview.

After the Interview

  • Write your thank you letters/e-mails to all involved in the actual interviewing process and send them out the SAME DAY as the interview.
  • Once you have finished the interview and you have a chance to catch your breath, it is very important to evaluate yourself. Develop an evaluation sheet or keep a sheet of paper in your company file folder and write down your thoughts about the interview. How did you do? Did you get your ideas across effectively? What should you do differently next time?
  • Go over the interview evaluation with ACPC staff and/or do more mock interviews.
  • Plan how you are going to follow up with the organization, THEN FOLLOW UP!

Follow-up

One of the most often overlooked factors in the quest for a great job is follow-up. Many people know that they should do it, but most don't. Either they don't know how, they forget, or they just choose not to do it. Follow-up is critical and is your responsibility. The employer receives hundreds of résumés and calls for every job that they have. Here are some basic thoughts on follow-up.

  • Don't be rude or aggressive. This will likely turn off an employer.
  • Be timely in your responses. Typically, you should give any business person five to ten days to respond to any correspondence that you sent and you should give them one to three days to return a phone call.
  • Be brief and to the point. When you call or write, get to the point. Professionals are very busy and don't have time to talk with every interested candidate. Plan your conversation before calling. Sell yourself effectively.
  • Remember effective follow up includes sending your thank you letters on the same day as your interview. You want the employer to remember you two days after your interview, not two weeks later. Thank-you letters should be typed. Re-emphasize your strengths and highlight your qualifications for the interviewer, but be brief!