Prepare for an Interview/Mock (practice) Interview

Preparing for an Interview

A job interview is your time to shine! It’s a chance for a potential employer to learn more about your skills, knowledge set, and how you can add value to their team. They’ll be looking to get a sense of how you approach challenges, how you work, and what motivates you. However, a job interview is not just for their benefit. It’s a chance for you to learn more about a company: their values and culture, the specific responsibilities of a position, and what working at that company is really like.  Whether on the phone, in person, or virtual, make sure you prepare for each stage of the interview.

Articulating one’s skills and experience in a clear, concise, and compelling way is a critical part of any application process.  Most of us, however, are not naturally skilled at doing so.  Use this guide to prepare: How to Prepare for an Interview. The resources below will provide concrete advice for marketing yourself to potential employers.

Visit our “Build Skills & Experiences” section below to take a mini course on interview skills. And watch a video at the bottom of this page.

Our FCB Career Coaches can also assist you in your interview preparation and can also conduct a practice interview!  Make an appointment in Handshake or stop by FCB room 121 to learn more.

Employers want to know that potential employees have taken the time to get to know their company and the position. They may even ask specific questions about the company or position to ensure you’ve done your research. Here are a few ways you can prepare before the interview. 

  • Reread the job description and think how you can communicate why you would be a good fit for the position.
  • Research the company’s size, location, organizational chart, product lines, history, top clients and competitors. Use Handshake, LinkedIn, the company’s website and social media channels, search engines and business articles to help you do thorough research. 
  • Visit employers at career fairs and networking events to gain an extra edge and insight into the organization. 
  • If you have the names of the people interviewing you, look them up on the company’s website and LinkedIn. This will help you to become familiar with their job functions and experience. 
  • Learn about current trends and events that might impact your future employer.
  • Try to get insider knowledge of the organization by speaking with LinkedIn contacts, alumni, peers, faculty, family, or other contacts who may have a deeper understanding of the organization.

Prepare responses around these themes so that you will be ready for a wide variety of questions. Use this guide to prepare: How to Prepare for an Interview

  • Why are you interested in this position? Evaluate how your past experiences (academic, professional, co-curricular, personal) have contributed to your interest in this role. Think about why you want to do this kind of work at this particular organization.
  • Why are you a good candidate for this position? Assess for how your work experience, personal qualities, academic accomplishments, and co-curricular activities make you qualified for the position. Identify the transferable skills and knowledge that you would bring to the position. Be prepared to demonstrate your skills with examples using the S.T.A.R. method.
  • Situation: Provide a specific and concise overview, including the timeframe and place. 
  • Task: Explain the task or goal you worked on and how it relates to the skill they asked about. 
  • Action: Describe your actions and the steps you took. 
  • Result: Describe the outcome, if possible. This is your time to take credit for your work or show what you learned. 

Many people practice for an interview by writing answers to common interview questions. While organizing your thoughts on paper is helpful, you should supplement it with verbal practice, alone, or with a friend, mentor, or an FCB Career Coach. You can schedule a practice interview with an FCB Career Coach to get feedback on your interview responses and presentation. We also host a mock interview program with companies each semester that allows you to practice and get feedback from one of our business partners. Follow us on social media for scheduled events.

Knowing the exact questions you will be asked is impossible, but you can develop responses to commonly asked interview questions. Incorporating real experiences and previous work into your answers is also great for demonstrating your strengths. For example, rather than saying you are very organized, share how you helped your student group organize an event and the positive results. To do this, try explaining your responses using the STAR method:  

Situation: Provide a specific and concise overview, including the timeframe and place. 

  • Task: Explain the task or goal you worked on and how it relates to the skill they asked about. 
  • Action: Describe your actions and the steps you took. 
  • Result: Describe the outcome, if possible. This is your time to take credit for your work or show what you learned. 

The STAR interview technique offers a straightforward format you can use to answer behavioral interview questions—those prompts that ask you to provide a real-life example of how you handled a certain kind of situation at work in the past.

Don’t worry—these questions are easy to recognize. They often have telltale openings like:

·   Tell me about a time when…

·   What do you do when…

·   Have you ever…

·   Give me an example of…

·   Describe a time…

Thinking of a fitting example for your response is just the beginning. Then you also need to share the details in a compelling and easy-to-understand way—without endless rambling. That’s exactly what the STAR interview method enables you to do.” The Muse. Visit the Muse for the full article.

For examples and further information on the S.T.A.R. method, make an appointment with an FCB Career Coach.

Guide to How to Prepare for an Interview

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • How has what you learned in school prepared you for this position?
  • What are your top three strengths?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • How do you think a friend, classmate or professor who knows you well would describe you?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful in this job?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization?
  • What work environment are you most comfortable in?
  • Tell me two or three accomplishments that have given you the most satisfaction. Why?
  • Describe an ideal relationship between a supervisor and subordinates.
  • Why did you decide to seek a position with our organization?
  • What were the most important contributions you made in your last job?

Guide to How to Prepare for an Interview

Different employers have different expectations for interview attire. Make sure your clothes reflect your identity and align with the job you’re seeking. Plus, how you dress can boost your confidence and help you get in the right frame of mind for the interview. 

  • If you aren’t sure how professionals dress in the field, consider asking people in your network. 
  • You can also look at photos on the organization’s website to see how employees dress. 
  • Even with a virtual interview, it’s best to dress confidently from head to toe. You never know if you’ll need to stand up during your conversation. 

We’ve put together a few professional dress Pinterest boards to give you some ideas:

When deciding what to wear, consider your industry’s standard. It is always better to dress a bit more formally if you are unsure. Everything should be cleaned, pressed and polished. 

▪ Business Attire: Consists of two-piece suit in black, gray, or navy with a matching shirt/dress. Make sure that clothing is not open below the neckline. Ties or stockings may be required in more formal workplaces or industries. Dark closed-toed shoes. 

▪ Business Casual Attire: Can include dress pants/skirt and a shirt/sweater without a jacket. Can also include khaki pants or slacks and a nice shirt. Ties and stockings are not usually required.

▪ Do NOT Wear: revealing clothes, extensive jewelry/piercings or makeup, have exposed tattoos, too much cologne or perfume, hats indoors, open toed-toes, headphones, sunglasses, dirty clothing, or any clothing with holes. 

  • Be on time! Aim to arrive at least 10–15 minutes early.
  • Bring the supplies you prepared the night before your interview.
  • Be considerate and polite to all staff members. 
  • Put mobile devices on silent.
  • Avoid any scents that may be distracting to the employer.
  • Enter with a positive attitude.
  • If virtual – apply an appropriate virtual background
  • Ensure there are no pet, roommate, or family member distractions.

  • Listen carefully to the interviewer and make sure you answer the question your interviewer is asking.
  • Relate your skills, accomplishments, and objectives to the needs of the company.
  • Provide specific examples when possible using the S.T.A.R. Method
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your training and experience. You don’t have to apologize for any perceived lack of experience or background.
  • Use clear and direct language. Avoid using filler words such as “um” or “like.” Make your point and don’t ramble.
  • Maintain eye contact with your interviewer(s). If there are multiple interviewers, remember to engage with all of them.
  • Be aware of your body language. Convey confidence and engagement with your posture. 
  • Observe the people and office space to get a sense of the company’s culture.
  • If you do not have the interviewer’s contact information, request a business card so that you can send a thank you note.
  • Avoid talking negatively about past supervisors, co-workers, or companies of employment. 
  • Avoid asking about salary and benefits during the first interview. 
  • Ask at least two of your pre-prepared, well thought out questions to determine if this organization and job is the right place for you.

An interview is a two-way street. Just as they are asking questions to learn about you, you should ask questions to ensure this is the right job for you. If you don’t come prepared with questions, the interviewer might assume you haven’t done your research. 

  • You can ask about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, the company culture or important qualities needed to excel in the position. Use your research to develop detailed questions. 
  • Ask about the immediate goals that the new hire will need to focus on. 
  • You can also leverage generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, for questions to ask based on a job description and company. 
  • Write a few questions down to take with you to the interview. Being prepared shows you are invested in the position and curious about how to be the best fit.

  • Send a thank you note within 24 hours of the interview. Evaluate your performance. Did any questions stump you? Consider how you can improve your answers for the next interview.
  • Think about what you learned about the position and employer during the interview. Assess how the position would meet your priorities and goals.
  • After a first round interview you may be called back for additional rounds of interviews depending on the employer’s process. 
  • If a job offer is provided on the spot, which is uncommon, it is appropriate to thank the employer and to tell them that you need more time to consider the offer. Ask about the company’s timeline and deadline for your answer. 
  • If you do not hear from the employer after the hiring timeline they initially indicated, follow up once. Call or email the interviewer or human resources contact. Reaffirm your interest in the position and inquire about the new hiring timeline.

Any questions that are meant to reveal your age, race, national origin, citizenship, gender, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, and arrest records are illegal.

  • How old are you?
  • What are your religious beliefs?
  • What is your ancestry, national origin, or birthplace?
  • What is your native language?
  • Are you single, married, divorced, or widowed?
  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • Are your parents citizens?
  • Do you have any children and/or are you planning on having more?

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