During the Interview

First Impressions

Your interview starts as soon as you leave your home! Realize that as you travel to your interview location, you do not know whom you might come across. The perfect stranger you sit next to on the bus, the bad driver in the car next to yours, or the person behind you in line at the coffee shop could be someone in the company. So take care to mind your manners and words even before you get to the organization’s office.

  • Be early! Arrive with plenty of time, so you can use the restroom to check your appearance and take some time to calm your nerves.
  • Offer a firm, but not crushing, handshake with good eye contact as you greet your interviewer.
  • Make upbeat small talk. Compliment the office decorations or the nice weather. Do not start off by complaining about anything. Wait for the interviewer’s cue to begin the actual interview.
  • Choose the seat closest to and opposite the interviewer, if you can, to show your confidence. Otherwise, sit wherever the interviewer tells you to.
  • Be polite, enthusiastic, confident, and calm! Demonstrate your interest in the interviewer and the company!

The Question and Answer Portion

The interview is an information exchange where you will answer questions about your background and experiences. It deals with facts, judgment, willingness, emotional maturity and manageability. In general, the interviewer is assessing your self-esteem, business comprehension, ability to get along with others, organizational and time management abilities, and degrees of energy and stamina. The questions may be open-ended, so your job is to fill in the blanks with specific experiences and competencies. Your goal during the interview is to inspire the interviewer’s confidence in you.

  • Make eye contact because it demonstrates confidence. Do not stare at the interviewer because it will make her or him uncomfortable. It is natural to look away when you speak or when you think about your answer, so relax!
  • Concentrate and listen to the questions carefully. Do not worry about what you will say next so much that you miss the point of the interviewer’s question.
  • Address different interviewers accordingly. In most cases, you will meet with several levels of management. For example, the interviewer from human resources will more likely ask general questions about the company and position, while the interviewer who is your potential supervisor will ask more detailed questions about your specific skills, attributes, and experience with teamwork.
  • Observe your interviewer’s body language and adjust your style of responses as appropriate. Your interviewers will subconsciously convey their reactions to your answers in how they might sit, cross their arms, or look at you. Be attentive to such non-verbal clues. If you sense your answers are not received positively, take the hint and change the direction in which you are taking your response.
  • Be positive, decisive, confident, articulate, and clear as to why you want the job.  Be honest! Do not be tempted to exaggerate. You do not know what the interviewer might know about you.
  • Qualify your abilities and quantify your achievements. Don’t be vague about your accomplishments. Give concrete examples!
  • Give examples of your skills and experiences in the form of short success "stories." Convince your interviewer of your abilities by recounting instances of how you have taken initiative, led others, made decisions, set and achieved goals, solved problems, and communicated well in the past. Be sure to be concise as you tell your success stories.
  • Pause to think about your answer! It does not earn you bonus points to answer quickly. It is more important to reflect and compose an intelligent answer. If you need more time, avoid the “uhhs” and “umms” by repeating the question, saying “Now, let me see” or “I am glad you asked that question.”
  • Treat every question as important. Every answer you give tells the interviewer something about you. Use every question to your advantage to highlight your strengths!
  • Be prepared to interview the interviewer as well. You will probably have an opportunity to ask 2-3 questions in the closing minutes of the interview. Go in with a well thought out list of questions through which you will gain a better understanding of: the organization's culture, how this function interfaces with the rest of the organization, and professional growth and development opportunities. Remember the interview is a 2-way street; you have to decide if you like the company, too!