Published: Oct. 21, 2019

student smiling at camera at a career fair

Did you know?

Many companies travel to CU Boulder and reserve space on campus to conduct interviews with interested and qualified student candidates. This process is all managed through Handshake, CU’s online platform for students to find internships and jobs. After students apply through Handshake, employers review resumes and inform students whether they’ve been selected to interview. Learn more about Handshake.

By the time your student gets to an interview, the employer has already decided that they meet the minimum qualifications for the position. This is your student’s chance to share their experiences, personality and potential. Whether your student is interviewing for an internship or job opportunity, the best way to build confidence for an interview is to be prepared. Here are some ways to help your student get ready for an interview.

Prepare answers to common interview questions

While it’s impossible to know what questions will be asked, your student can prepare responses to commonly asked interview questions ahead of time. Encourage them to write out their responses with key points they want to communicate. This practice can help your student think of examples that highlight their talent.

Practice with your student

After your student has prepared some responses, offer to practice with them. Practicing can help reduce stress and boost your student’s confidence during the actual interview. It can be helpful for students to prepare with someone they know and trust, and receive feedback in a positive manner.

As you practice, suggest that your student find ways to incorporate stories into their responses. For example, your student might say they are very organized in a practice answer. Instead, they could talk about a specific situation where they helped their student group organize an event and share what the outcome was. 

Help your student think of past situations and accomplishments to use for different interview questions. Encourage them to try forming their responses with the STAR method:  

  • Situation: Sets the Stage. Provide an overview, being specific and concise.
  • Task: Describe the goal they were working to achieve.
  • Action: Describe their actions and the steps they took.
  • Result: Describe the outcome, if possible. This is their time to take credit for their work or show what they learned.

Develop responses about weaknesses

No one is perfect, and your student doesn’t have to pretend to be in front of their potential new boss. Anything negative can be spun to show that it was a point of learning. Help your student prepare responses with examples and specific ways they are working around potential weaknesses.

Prepare questions

An interview is not just a time for an employer to learn about your student and their skills. This is also the time for your student to ask questions and be sure this is the right job for them. Encourage your student to prepare a few questions for their interviewer ahead of time. They could ask more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, the company culture or the qualities needed to excel in the position. They could also ask about the next steps in the interview process.

As your student prepares for an interview, Career Services is here to help. For more practice, they can schedule a mock interview appointment with a career development advisor. They will get feedback on their responses and tips for highlighting their skills in the best way possible.