University of Oregon

Prepare for an interview

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Interviews are two-way dialogues in which employers and prospective employees learn about each other. Every personal interaction should be considered an interview opportunity and a chance to make a good impression.

Employer Goals: To obtain information for hiring decisions; to compare applicants for a vacant position; and to present a positive image of the organization.

Applicant Goals: To promote your professional potential; to present your skills, values and interests; and to get the job offer.

Pre-Interview Preparation

  • Spend time reflecting on your skills, interests, values, personal traits and previous experiences
  • Identify your short-term and long-term goals
  • Research the organization’s products, services, competitors, and the position itself
  • Prepare responses and practice answering sample interview questions
  • Identify five or more accomplishments and craft stories
  • Prepare a list of questions you may want to ask the employer
  • Know where you are going - location, parking, time of interview, etc.

Day of Interview

  • Dress professionally: clothing pressed, shoes shined, well-groomed
  • Bring additional copies of your résumé and relevant samples of your work
  • Arrive 10 minutes early and be cordial to the receptionist
  • Ask for the professional’s business card for future reference

Following the Interview

  • Send a thank you; may be hand-written or emailed
  • Reflect on your performance
  • Write down difficult questions for further reference

Interview Tips

  • Greet interviewer formally (Mr., Mrs., Ms.) and with a firm handshake
  • You only get one chance to make a first impression
  • Illustrate answers by describing past experiences
  • Keep your answers brief and focused on the question
  • Include concrete, quantifiable data when possible
  • Repeat your key strengths
  • Consider employer perspectives and priorities
  • Image (body language, eye contact) and presentation (communication, enthusiasm, interest) are often as important as content
  • Maintain a conversational flow and ask relevant questions
  • Never use an interview for practice - always prepare and learn from your experiences

Second Interviews

  • Prepare by digging deeper into employer literature and current articles about the industry or organization
  • If possible, speak to current employees, customers or competitors to develop a well-rounded perspective.
  • Usually conducted at the employer’s work site
  • Expect to speak with multiple interviewers
  • Costs are typically reimbursed by the employer

Accepting the Offer

  • Before accepting an offer of employment, make sure you understand all the details. Be clear on the following points:
  • The job responsibilities and salary meet with your satisfaction
  • The starting date and location of assignment are clearly understood
  • Ideally you have met with your supervisor and feel excited about the relationship with her or him
  • You will have the opportunity to develop new skills and increase responsibilities