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Interviewing

Employers use interviews to assess your qualifications, evaluate your fit, and promote their organizations. Your goals are to share more about your qualifications, learn about the job and employer, and determine whether they’re right for you.

Learn about Interviewing

Preparing for Interviews

Interviewing is a skill you develop over time. Begin preparing for interviews early in your job search so that you’re ready when opportunities arise.

Know Yourself

Reflect on your education, experiences, accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values and how they relate to opportunities you’re seeking. Review your résumé and practice how to articulate your skills and accomplishments.

Research

Learn everything you can about the organization (its mission, location, size, structure, products and services, culture, customers, and competitors) and the industry. This will help you respond to questions in a way that aligns your pursuits with the organization. Employers’ websites are great starting points.

Practice

Practice responses out loud with a friend or family member to become more comfortable and confident. Receiving feedback on your specific responses and nonverbal behaviors can help you improve your interviewing skills. Schedule a mock interview with an NCA team member—it’s a great way to get personal feedback on your interviewing techniques

During the Interview

Most interviews can be divided into three stages.

Introduction

Whether the interview is in person, virtual, or on the phone, be available and prepared to start on time. Being timely demonstrates professionalism and respect for your interviewer. In an in-person interview, stand to greet interviewers and follow their lead regarding handshakes. The walk to the interview room or office is an opportunity to develop a rapport by engaging in small talk, such as discussing the weather, a local sports team, or your commute.
An interview usually starts with introductions of the participating employer representatives and an overview of the time you’ll spend together.

Information Exchange

The bulk of your time will be spent in this stage. You’ll be asked about your experiences, skills, and interest in the position—this is your opportunity to prove you’re the best candidate by sharing your STAR stories .
In addition to your words, your nonverbal actions make an impression. How you stand, sit, and listen can help or hinder the impression you give to interviewers. Make strong eye contact and engage in active listening throughout your exchanges.

Wrap-up

Toward the end of an interview, it’s common for interviewers to ask if you have questions. The best questions are those you genuinely want answers to, such as details about the position or the experiences of your interviewers within the organization. Avoid questions related to salary, benefits, and personal topics—these are more appropriate once an offer has been extended.
Interviewers will likely share what further steps may be part of the process and when you should expect to hear from them. If they don’t share this, you can ask.
Finally, express appreciation and restate your interest in the role, incorporating if possible a detail you learned during the interview. If you’re not offered business cards, ask for them so you have the correct names and email addresses for sending thank-you notes .

After the Interview

Afterward, reflect on the interview and what you learned about the job. Pay special attention to your impression of the organization and the people you met. It’s helpful to document your thoughts so that you have something to reference later on. Think also about the interview experience—what you did well and what you can improve next time.
Within 48 hours, send a thank-you note to each person who interviewed you. Avoid sending the same note to every-one; instead, adapt your notes to the respective conversation you had with each interviewer.
If you don’t hear back within the time frame discussed, send an email to express your continued interest and ask about your status. If a time frame isn’t shared, wait at least one week after the interview to follow up.

Interview Tips

  • Review your résumé and bring copies to the interview.
  • Turn off your phone.
  • Address the interviewer formally until given permission to use a first name.
  • Offer a firm handshake.
  • Convey enthusiasm for the company and position.
  • Maintain strong eye contact.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question.
  • Be mindful of your tone of voice and rate of speech.
  • Let the interviewer finish speaking; avoid interrupting.
  • Avoid using acronyms, slang, and filler words such as um or like.
  • Avoid speaking negatively about anything, such as a previous employer, professor, or colleague.
  • Avoid discussing salary, holidays, or bonuses unless the interviewer raises these topics.