Manage the Interview
The interview is a two-way conversation in which you and the employer gather information to decide if you are a good fit for the job.
- Communicate one consistent message: I am the best person for the job. Support your message with hard evidence and examples from your past experience.
- Gain confidence and improve your skills with practice, feedback, and self-reflection.
- Rehearse your interview technique with friends, mentors, or the Career Services Mock Interview program available to Wright State University students and alumni who are actively seeking jobs.
Wright State students and alumni can increase their opportunities through participation in our On-Campus Interviewing program.
Prepare for the Interview, Step by Step
Research the Company
In preparation for the interview:
- Thoroughly review the company website
- Know the products or services they produce or are developing
- Read newspaper or business journal items reported about them
- Observe the performance of their company stock if applicable
- Talk to people who work there or are otherwise familiar with the company
After your research, questions may remain or emerge. Make a list of questions to ask the company or organization, but thoroughly check available information to be sure you are not asking a question that is readily answered through a public source. Interviewers expect that you will do research prior to the interview, and they will listen for evidence that you have done your research and for evidence that you have not. Coming to the table as an informed candidate leaves a positive impression; being uninformed creates a negative impression that will eliminate you from consideration.
Know what the Employer is Seeking
Identify the particular traits and skills that the employer is seeking by carefully reading and highlighting the qualifications and requirements of the job description and generally benchmarking your targeted jobs. Develop specific examples from past experiences to demonstrate and support that you possess these traits and skills. Most candidates will claim to be hard workers with great people skills; however, it is candidates who support their claims with concrete examples who will be most successful.
Employers value interpersonal skills.
They look for candidates who have the ability to share knowledge (communication skills) effectively (motivation/initiative) and tactfully (interpersonal skills) to ensure the success of the group (leadership and teamwork skills).
Other personal traits that are highly valued by employers include
- a willingness to accept responsibility
- ability to handle conflict
Demonstrate these traits in the interview by providing concrete examples from your past experience.
Learn the P-A-R Response Strategy for Behavioral Interviewing
Interview questions you are asked may be of a field-related, technical nature, or follow a pattern of behavioral interviewing, designed to reveal your past performance patterns on the premise that they predict future performance.
There may be a combination of the two types of questions.
You can effectively answer behavioral interviewing questions by following a model referred to as P-A-R: Problem, Action, Results.
In the P-A-R model, you
- first describe the problem or situation;
- then relate the action you took;
- finally, describe the results of your action.
Provide specific, positive examples with supporting details and data.
Use Positive Examples from Your Personal Experience
Feeling good and confident about yourself is an essential ingredient in interview success.
Plan to describe accomplishments from your previous experience and examples of how you successfully resolved challenging situations.
When retelling positive examples from past performance, you essentially relive a successful, professional experience. Reliving the success of the past experience often makes you feel good in the present. Your positive feelings about yourself are then conveyed in your attitude, posture, word choice and facial expressions. These unconscious effects may enhance the impression you make on the interviewer.
Review your paid and volunteer experiences, course projects, personal projects and make a list of your successes. Develop stories of these successes following the P-A-R strategy.
Review Some Questions You Might Be Asked
Reviewing examples of the questions you might face may help you identify what situations from your past show the best evidence of your skill, effectiveness and other positive workplace attributes.
Review Some Questions You Might Ask
Avoid asking questions that are answered with publicly available information, as this creates a negative impression. Research the company prior to the interview.
To accurately assess your candidacy and follow up after the interview, ask:
- how many candidates are being interviewed
- when the first round of interviews will be completed
- when the interviewer will be contacting candidates with the results of the initial interview process (think of this as the contact date)
- whether a second round of interviews is anticipated
- when a final hiring decision is expected
- when the successful candidate is expected to start
While it’s not recommended to inquire as if you were reading from a shopping list, you do want to determine this information. It will help you evaluate other interview opportunities and job offers in comparison. The interview timeline also guides your follow up contacts. You will be able to plan an appropriate schedule for following up with the interviewer.
Ask the interviewer if they prefer to be contacted via email or conventional mail for follow up correspondence; and if it is okay if you telephone if you have questions. Knowing their contact preferences will facilitate follow up, particularly delivering your thank you letter.
Be Aware of Various Interview Formats
Interviews take many forms. Here are a few examples:
- One-on-one interviews involve you in an interview with a single interviewer. There may be only one interviewer, or a series of one-on-one meetings.
- Group or panel interviews require you to engage a group of interviewers at one time. Questions may be asked by only one of the group members, or group members may take turns. Address your answers to all members of the group, acknowledging each member of the group with eye contact as you answer.
- High-pressure or high-stress interviews may require you to answer questions about extremely stressful situations, or the interviewer(s) may utilize an aggressive style to test how well you maintain your professional demeanor and rational approach, as well as your anger and frustration management.
- Behavioral Interviews ask you to describe past performance, in the belief that past performance predicts future performance. Your answers are expected to be supported by factual details and data.
- Hypothetical problem-solving interviews involve you as an individual or potentially as a member of a group in solving a particular problem outlined by the interviewer. The interviewer observes and evaluates your problem-solving technique and, in the event of a group performance, your approach to team dynamics.
- Telephone interviews may be used for pre-screening candidates or as a low-cost alternative at all stages until the final decision. The telephone interview is a formal exchange. So that you are mentally and physically reminded of the seriousness of the situation, we recommend you wear professional suiting and conduct the interview in a professional setting. It is possible the interviewer will ask you what you are wearing.
- Interviews conducted with electronic technology (such as Skype) occur between you and an interviewer in a remote location. As in a phone interview, we recommend you wear full professional suiting and conduct the interview in a professional setting, paying attention to the physical background information conveyed by your camera. A hazard of the electronic interview is forgetting that you are not alone. While you may be alone in your physical location, the interviewer can see your facial expressions and your behaviors.
Rehearse the Interview
Practice your handshake with a friend. It should be firm, but not crushing.
Based on your research, identify how you fit into the company’s culture and mission, and what you can contribute.
Mentally prepare a 20-second introduction for yourself: who you are, your qualifications, your interest in the position and the organization, and how you see yourself fitting into the company’s mission and goals.
You cannot predict exactly what questions will be asked, so it is not wise to memorize prefabricated answers to specific questions.
Instead, plan a thematic approach to the interview. Your theme should be: why I am the best person for this job, which addresses the primary question in all interviews: why should the company hire you?
Identify and rehearse articulating those examples of your past performance that conform to your theme. It is not enough to think about your answers; you must practice telling your stories.
Practice the interview process with a friend or associate, using your positive examples to answer questions.
Record your practice interview on video if possible. Play back the interview and make notes for improvement:
- Did you appropriately answer, with relevant and quantifiable examples, the question that was asked?
- Did you respond completely yet concisely?
- Did you maintain eye contact?
- Were you skilled at redirecting negative questions to illustrate positive attributes?
Assess your physical presentation:
- Was your posture straight but relaxed?
- Did you emphasize points with hand gestures appropriately but in a small and limited way?
- Did you smile periodically and appropriately?
- In general, did you convey confidence and a positive image?
- Were you successful at limiting nervous habits and tensional outlets from your presentation?
- In addition to your appropriate dress, your hair should be recently cut and conservatively styled. Hands and nails should be smooth and manicured. The quality of your personal care will be interpreted as the quality of care you will exercise in your job.
If you are unfamiliar with the area, take a practice drive to the interview site, prior to the day of the interview, if possible at the same time as you will be driving to the interview. Time the trip, and on the day of the interview, leave home at least ten minutes earlier than the maximum travel time.
Mock Interview Program for job-seeking students & alumni
Our Mock Interview Program allows current Wright State students and alumni, who are actively seeking a job, to practice their interviewing skills in a simulated interview environment, with a Career Services professional acting as the interviewer.
In mock interviews we coach students using the P-A-R Response Strategy for Behavioral Interviewing, which is explained under another headline on this page.
Mock interviews provide constructive feedback to the participants to enhance job prospects by improving interview skills.
Prepare for your mock interview as you would prepare for a real interview. We expect candidates to wear professional dress and present a professional résumé at the mock interview.
Mock interviews require a one hour appointment. Arrange a mock interview by making an appointment in Career Services, (937) 775-2556.
In order to best prepare yourself for the interview process, review the following checklist.
- I have thoroughly researched the company with which I am interviewing.
- I know what the position involves, the qualifications the company is seeking and why I am interested.
- I have reviewed my strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and goals and thought about how they relate to the position for which I am interviewing.
- I have reviewed commonly asked questions, predicted interview questions, and rehearsed my responses aloud.
- I have made a list of questions to ask.
- I know the salary range for the position for which I am applying and how I will respond to questions regarding salary.
- I have prepared and made additional copies of my résumé, references, and any additional supporting documentation that may be requested by the interviewer.
- I have selected an appropriate interview suit to wear to the interview.
- I know how to get to the interview site and how much time to allocate in order to arrive 10 minutes early.
Succeed in the Interview
Make a last minute mental and physical check before you leave for the interview.
- Are you suited up?
- Have you removed excess jewelry?
- Is your hair well-groomed and conservatively styled?
- Are you smiling?
- Do you have emergency supplies, in case something goes wrong? For example, an extra pair of stockings for women; an extra tie for men
Plan to arrive 10 minutes early at the interview location, but no more than 10 minutes.
Arriving later than the scheduled interview time may ruin your candidacy.
If you are extremely nervous, complete relaxation exercises in the car. Shake your hands vigorously to deplete nervous energy. Breathe deeply to relax.
Turn off your mobile devices before entering the interview situation.
Present yourself in a professional manner to the greeter at the interview location.
Be patient if you must wait.
Be professional and courteous to all people you meet in the interview vicinity and office. Anyone you meet may be contributing to the assessment of your candidacy. How you treat members of the team is an important part of your profile.
To avoid juggling objects, creating spills, or caking your teeth with crumbs, politely decline offers of beverages or food.
Make it a practice to be positive in your interview experience.
Do not make judgmental comments or tell blameful stories about former companies, former supervisors, or former colleagues. This behavior only reflects badly on you and predicts, to the interviewer, that you will have a bad attitude toward future opportunities.
Introduce yourself to the interviewer using your rehearsed elevator speech.
Present your résumé for the convenience of the interviewer. If the résumé has been updated since your application, inform the interviewer.
Make eye contact with the interviewer throughout the interview.
In the interview, the theme behind all your answers should be: why I am the best person for the job. All interview questions ask basically the same question: why should we hire you?
There are some standard questions you can expect to be asked. In addition, you may be asked general questions designed to reveal your past behavioral patterns. This is called behavioral interviewing. You can effectively answer behavioral interviewing questions by following the P-A-R strategy
Give specific and detailed answers using your real experiences and accomplishments.
If you are asked to describe weaknesses or failures, provide a response that frames these incidents as challenges and describe how you successfully managed them for a positive outcome.
It is acceptable for you to jot brief notes on a legal pad carried in a portfolio. Brief notes are usually made when something the interviewer says sparks a question you want to ask later. Do not let note-taking distract you from engaging with the interviewer.
Hold the portfolio in your lap instead of placing it on the table or desk between you and the interviewer.
If you have legitimate questions about the work environment or the company that have not been answered in your preparatory research or in the interview, take time to ask them at the end of the interview.
It is not appropriate to ask questions to which you should have already found out the answer, such as: "Tell me about your organization."
It is not appropriate to introduce salary and compensation issues until a job offer is extended to you and negotiations begin.
If asked what your salary and benefits expectations are, you might reply that you would consider any fair and equitable offer. You might say that you expect a salary in the range appropriate for the position, and based on your skills and experience; or you can respond that you prefer to leave salary considerations until you both agree that this position is right for you. Your goal is to avoid stating a specific amount or range. For more about salary and benefits, review the negotiations section of our Job Search Tips.
Collect a business card that provides the interviewers name, title, address, phone, and email. If a business card is not available, ask the interviewer for this information so that you may effectively and accurately follow up. Collect this information from everyone who participated in the interview or who assisted you, so that you may send thank you letters.
Always thank your interviewer and shake hands upon goodbye.
Always send a thank you letter to your interviewer(s).
Refrain from commenting on the interview experience on social media or in public venues.
If you are invited to an interview that includes a meal, consult with a Career Services professional about dining etiquette.
Stay Focused for the Second Interview
The hiring process may include a second interview.
You must be as conscientious and prepared in the second interview as in the first.
Have confidence in being asked back, but recognize the scrutiny will be greater and the competition will be tougher.
Conduct research on the company that builds on what you learned in the first interview.
Develop new questions to ask that are based on your prior interview and your ongoing research.
Determine who will be interviewing you in the second round and consider what they might find important and meaningful in your qualifications.
Remember to follow up after the interview
Following up to highlight aspects of the interview and to say thank you can make a difference in your job search.