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Prepare for Interview Success

Katherine M. Bennett

The hours you spent perfecting your curriculum vitae and cover letter paid off. You just got a call for an interview. It's time to panic, right? Wrong. Now's the time to prepare.


  • Practice makes perfect. Spend time reviewing your curriculum vitae before your interview. Know your marketable skills, and match them with the employer's needs. Be sure to highlight visible accomplishments, such as a research result or an award, but be careful. Too much practice can make your answers seem stiff and rehearsed. 
  • Don't just sit there. Ideally, an interview should be a two-way exchange of information. Ask questions of the interviewer when they logically occur to you--don't wait for the end of the interview. Remember, the interviewer's objective is to find out if you are a person the organization would like to hire. Your objective is to find out if this is a place where you would want to work. 
  • Prove you are worth the risk. Employers take a chance when hiring a new person. The interviewer will need assurance that you want the job and will not leave too soon after accepting an offer. Highlight intangible qualities like teamwork and flexibility to show that you work well with others. 
  • Turn negatives into positives. As a recent graduate, you will need to convince employers that you have the right experience to competently perform the job and can learn quickly. 
  • Do your homework. Tap into your network to find out as much as you can about the organization and the interviewer. If the interview location is unfamiliar to you, do a trial run the day before to ensure you know exactly how much time to allow for travel. 
  • It's not over 'til it's over. A follow-up letter is an invaluable way to keep your name in front of an interviewer. Keep the letter short, show interest in the position, and reiterate your strengths. Thank the interviewer for the opportunity, and send the letter within 24 hours of your meeting.


Typical Interview Questions


  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses? 
  • Where you do want to be in five years? 
  • What contributions can you make to our organization? 
  • Under what conditions do you work best? 
  • How do you prioritize your time? 
  • What excites you about this position? 
  • Can you work under deadline?