Ace Your Interview

You should be able to use your research to tailor your answers to the employer/position, demonstrate your preparedness and passion for the position, and develop strong questions to ask at the end of your interview.

Start by going to the company's website and reading about their products, services, stock performance, company history, organization, successes, current news, social media, Glassdoor, informational interviews, and future direction. Here are some tips on things to look for: company growth, financial information, company objectives/strategy/mission, market share, technology issues, legal & regulatory issues, reputation.

In addition to learning about the employer, you need to be familiar with the tasks and qualifications requested in the position description and what you find exciting. You should do research on your salary expectations and review salary negotiation best practices. Note that ideally, this discussion will not happen until there is an official offer.

  • Identify and write down specific examples of situations from your past work experience, classroom and academic accomplishments, student activities, and leadership that demonstrate your strengths and skills. Examples of teamwork, problem-solving, customer service, planning, taking initiative, communication, managing multiple projects with deadlines, leadership in a group, and ability to work well with diverse personalities and backgrounds are of special interest to employers. Think about how these relate to the job.
  • Know what is on your resume and be ready to discuss it in detail.
  • Identify your short and long range goals along with your reasons for wanting the position. How do those fit together?
  • 1. Could you tell me about yourself?

    Mention your major/why you chose it, any relevant experience/skills specific to the job, one or two important accomplishments, and why you’re excited for this particular job.

    2. What interests you in the position?

    Be honest about your goals and their match for this position. Show enthusiasm for the job to demonstrate interest in staying with the company for a while.

    3. What do you know about our company?

    Research the company beforehand and relay the fact that you’ve read the website, articles, company trends, new products/services, awards etc. You should pick out key areas of interest and mention why it appeals to you.

    4. Could you share 2 or 3 of your greatest strengths?

    Mention strengths that match the job description or skills in the industry and provide a specific example of when you used those strengths.

    5. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date?

    Think about an event or accomplishment that was exceptionally challenging, enjoyable, or satisfying. Choose one that you were heavily involved in and describe it as a story from start to finish. The interviewer wants to learn not only what you consider a great accomplishment but also what that accomplishment tells about your skills and what you value.

    6. What is something about yourself that you try to improve upon (aka weakness)?

    Think of a genuine weakness and give a specific example of how you are improving upon that weakness. Stay positive and avoid the canned answers like "I'm a perfectionist" or "I work too hard." You should also avoid weaknesses that could make or break the job like not working well with others, personality traits that are difficult to change, or a major duty of the job

    7. If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

    There is no right answer to these sorts of questions - it's all about trying to see your thought processes, how you handle being put on the spot, and your ability to be a little creative. Try not to overthink it and just have fun with it.

    8. Why should we hire you?

    Point out how your assets or strengths meet what the organization needs (as read from the job description). You should not mention other candidates to make a comparison.

    9. Are you planning to start a family soon?

    In interviewing, some questions are illegal to ask because they offer the employer the opportunity to discriminate against the applicant; these questions often address family planning, religion, nationality, age, disability, or sexual orientation. If asked an illegal question, you can choose to answer or deflect based on your comfort.

    Many employers will evaluate your answers using the STAR-L method:

  • S/T = Situation or Task
  • A = Action (including your specific role within the group)
  • R = Results
  • L = Learned
  • When answering behavioral interview questions, describe the situation or task, discuss the action steps you took, tell the results, and tell what you learned from the experience.

    To prepare for behavioral interview questions:

  • Recall situations that show favorable behaviors or actions and prepare short descriptions of each.
  • Be sure each story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  • Be specific. Don't generalize about several events; give a detailed accounting of a particular situation.
  • Below are some sample behavioral questions:

    1. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a group to complete a project or goal.
    2. Describe a time when you were challenged or put under pressure.
    3. Tell me about a specific time when you had to work in a team and there was a conflict.
    4. Give an example of a time when you lead a project from start to finish.
    5. Discuss a time when you helped solve a problem in a highly imaginative or innovative way.

    At the end of the interview, you may be asked if you have questions for your interview. Always have questions prepared that will demonstrate your enthusiasm and research. Stay away from questions regarding promotions, benefits, and pay. Below are some sample questions.

    1. What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate?
    2. Do you offer any professional development or continuing education opportunities?
    3. Can you show me or tell me about projects I will be working on?
    4. What are the most important things you'd like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
    5. What's your favorite part about working here?
    6. What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?
    7. How has the company changed since you joined?
    8. What is the company and team culture like?
    9. What is the next step in the hiring process?

    Phone or Video Interview: You will still prepare for this interview like you otherwise would, although you don't need to dress up for a phone interview. Make sure that you have a quiet place free from disruptions to interview and that your phone or internet connection is reliable. The Career Development Center has a Skype interview room that is available for free to students.

    On-Site Interview: Often longer than phone or video interviews and involve a combination of a facilities tour, one or more interviews, a presentation, a meal, and/or a case study. Most companies will give you directions about what to expect. You should have questions prepared for multiple people and be prepared to answer the same questions multiple times.

    Group Interview: Include multiple interviewees, and it is important to involve everyone and be friendly. The interviewers are trying to ascertain your interpersonal and teamwork skills. It’s also important to be yourself and play to your strengths. Strike a balance of speaking (with purpose) and listening to others. You shouldn’t dominate the conversation, but you should be present.

    Technical Interview: Might be conducted via phone, video, or in person. They will concentrate on your technical knowledge relevant to the position. These interviews are most common in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields.

    One-on-One Interview: Takes place between one interviewee and one interviewer and could include traditional, behavioral, or technical questions.

    Panel Interview: Takes place between one interviewee and two or more interviewers and could include traditional, behavioral, or technical questions.

    Role Play: Involves pretending to be within a situation that could arise at work so the interviewer(s) can see how you react to a situation. Interviewers are often looking for confidence, problem solving, leadership, and communication skills. You are typically given time to prepare. Role plays can be with the interviewer or with a group.

    After being granted an opportunity to be hired, to learn, or generally be helped, writing a thank you card is appropriate. Thank you cards can be send via post or email, depending on the situation.


    Dear [Person you are thanking],

    [Thank the person for the their time and support. Reference something specific you spoke about with them, such as a piece of advice or information that you found helpful or interesting and how you will implement it (if applicable). Mention your enthusiasm for the field or position if relevant.]

    [Express a willingness to help them in the future.]


    [Your name]

    Career Development Center

    Arkansas Union

    Nola Holt Royster Suite 607



    Monday - Friday

    8am - 5pm

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    Thanks to Our Employer Partners!