Published: March 7, 2024

two people in a job interview

Interviewing is a crucial part of the job or internship search. The good news is that by the time you get to an interview, the employer has already decided you meet the minimum qualifications for the position and wants to learn more about you. 

An interview allows you and the employer to evaluate whether you’d be a good fit for the position and company culture. It is your chance to highlight your experiences, personality and potential. Here are some tips to help you prepare for an interview and feel confident, whether your interview is in person or virtual. 

Research the company and position 

Employers want to know that potential employees have taken the time to get to know their company and the position. They may even ask specific questions about the company or position to ensure you’ve done your research. Here are a few ways you can prepare before the interview. 

  • Research the company’s size, location, organizational chart, product lines, history, top clients and competitors. Use Handshake, LinkedIn, the company’s website and social media channels, search engines and business articles to help you do thorough research. Use Coco, the AI tool within Handshake, to ask questions about the job. 
  • Visit employers at career fairs and networking events to gain an extra edge and insight into the organization. 
  • Be familiar with the job description and consider how your skills and experience can benefit the company. 
  • If you have the names of the people interviewing you, look them up on the company’s website and LinkedIn. This will help you to become familiar with their job functions and experience. 

Practice interviewing 

Knowing the exact questions you will be asked is impossible, but you can develop responses to commonly asked interview questions. Incorporating real experiences and previous work into your answers is also great for demonstrating your strengths. For example, rather than saying you are very organized, share how you helped your student group organize an event and the positive results. To do this, try explaining your responses using the STAR method:  

  • Situation: Provide a specific and concise overview, including the timeframe and place. 
  • Task: Explain the task or goal you worked on and how it relates to the skill they asked about. 
  • Action: Describe your actions and the steps you took. 
  • Result: Describe the outcome, if possible. This is your time to take credit for your work or show what you learned. 

You can also use Quinncia, offered by Career Services, to practice interviewing. Quinncia lets you do practice interviews and provides short tips and feedback as you go. You will receive a more detailed interview analysis after you finish. To get started, you need to upload your resume. 

You will get specific tips related to the content of your interview, the pace of your speech, your eye contact with the computer and more. You can apply what you learn by doing additional mock interviews with Quinncia. 

Be prepared to ask questions 

An interview is a two-way street. Just as they are asking questions to learn about you, you should ask questions to ensure this is the right job for you. If you don’t come prepared with questions, the interviewer might assume you haven’t done your research. 

  • You can ask about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, the company culture or important qualities needed to excel in the position. Use your research to develop detailed questions. 
  • You can also leverage generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, for questions to ask based on a job description and company. 
  • Write a few questions down to take with you to the interview. Being prepared shows you are invested in the position and curious about how to be the best fit. 

Get organized 

Set yourself up for success and make a positive impression by having everything ready before your interview start time. 

If you have a virtual interview: 

  • Become familiar with the platform used for the interview (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) to avoid technical issues. 
  • Test your camera and microphone. 
  • Find a quiet location where you won’t be interrupted. 
  • Make sure nothing is distracting in your background. 
  • Use good lighting. 

If the interview is in person: 

  • Plan to arrive early, about 10 to 15 minutes before the interview’s scheduled start time. Leave time to navigate traffic delays or parking challenges. 
  • Ensure you know how to find the specific interview location and the name of your contact person. 
  • Bring any necessary additional materials, including your list of questions, paper, a pen, copies of your resume, transcripts, references and work samples. 

Make a plan for what to wear 

Different employers have different expectations for interview attire. Make sure your clothes reflect your identity and align with the job you’re seeking. Plus, how you dress can boost your confidence and help you get in the right frame of mind for the interview. 

  • If you aren’t sure how professionals dress in the field, consider asking people in your network. 
  • You can also look at photos on the organization’s website to see how employees dress. 
  • Even with a virtual interview, it’s best to dress confidently from head to toe. You never know if you’ll need to stand up during your conversation. 

Follow up after the interview 

The interview doesn’t stop when you leave. Write a thank you email to your hiring committee. Use your resources to write a thoughtful note. 

  • If you have each person’s name and contact information, address an individual thank you note to each hiring member. 
  • If not, you can email the person who arranged the interview. Reinforce your excitement for the position, that you are a good fit and that they can reach out with any additional questions.  
  • You can also use AI tools, like ChatGPT or Gemini, to craft an email. However, don’t rely solely on the results. A thank you letter should be sincere. Make edits and only take from AI what you need to create a solid and authentic thank you note. 

Resources for interviewing 

For more tips to help you with your job or internship search, check out programs and workshops from Career Services or schedule an appointment to meet with a peer career advisor.