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Interview Preparation

Student and Counselor sitting at a table having a discussion

Prepare for your next interview:

In the Career Development Office we offer two different appointment types to help students prepare for interviews. These can be scheduled on Handshake.

Interview Preparation - If you aren't sure where to begin in your preparation, you can meet with a career coach to discuss different aspects of interviews and common strategies to prepare.

Mock Interview - If you are prepared for your interview you can meet with a career coach for a full practice interview. Coaches will challenge you with common interview questions and give feedback on how to improve for the real interview. If your interview is virtual, the mock interview can be done through the software you will use for your actual interview. 

Interview Stages

  • Review your application and any documents that you submitted.
  • Be prepared to discuss any problems with your application - know what mistakes you have made and what you have learned from them.
  • Do not underestimate the importance of appropriate interview attire.
  • Practice, practice, practice. It is important to practice saying your answers out loud. For other more on preparing for the interview as well as sample questions, see the Interview Preparation Document on Handshake.
  • Schedule a Practice Interview with a Career Coach. When scheduling your practice interview, please include a link to the job posting or academic program and include any relevant documents you submitted with your application.
  • Arrive/log in 5-10 minutes prior to your scheduled interview time.
  • Expect to be nervous. If you are taking the interview seriously, you will be somewhat nervous and anxious – that’s normal. Keep in mind that everyone else is nervous and that the interviewers take that into consideration.
  • The interviewer does not expect you to know everything about everything. They are primarily trying to gauge your thought process and how you respond under pressure and when faced with an unfamiliar circumstance.
  • If you start to "derail" during an answer, stop, acknowledge that you have gotten off course and then get yourself back on track. This shows self-awareness, and is much better than continuing to power through and hoping that the interviewer(s) did not notice
  • Make eye contact, face your interviewers and do not fidget.
  • It is a good idea to bring a notepad/portfolio, but generally not a good idea to jot down extensive notes.
  • The interviewer may not have taken the time to go through your file (or may not have had access to your file), so do not say, "Like it says in my application…" 
  • If you do not understand the question, ask for a clarification. 
  • When asked a question that is totally unexpected, many students launch into an answer and quickly begin to ramble. Pause and organize your thoughts before speaking.
  • Reflect on what you were able to learn about the employer/program and whether you still think it could be a good fit for you.
  • If the employer/program has indicated it is appropriate to do so, you may wish to send hand-written thank you notes. These are not only courteous, but can help the interviewers remember you.
  • If the employer/program has indicated that it is appropriate to do so, send updates (academic, experience, etc.) relevant to your application so they can note it in your file.

Interview Types

In 1-on-1 interviews, you will meet with a single interviewer for 30-60 minutes where the employer or admissions officer will ask you a series of questions about your professional and academic histories; motivation for pursuing the opportunity; behaviors that indicate your preparedness for the position or program; and challenge your critical thinking skills.

In panel interviews, you will face a group of two to four interviewers who take turns asking you questions. For full-time or part-time jobs, the panel might include the department manager, other team members, relevant partners and/or an outside hiring consultant. For postgraduate programs, the panel could consist of the Admission’s Committee members, faculty, alumni and/or current students in the program.

Most commonly used in the postgraduate admissions process, some schools interview a small cohort of applicants simultaneously. During a group session, interviewers may present the applicants with a hypothetical problem and require them to work together towards a solution.

This format typically consists of a series of seven to ten stations. At each station, students are given a limited amount of time (e.g. two minutes) to read a prompt and then a limited amount of time (e.g. six to seven minutes) to respond. The prompts are commonly scenario-based and generally do not require expertise in any area.

Virtual interviews can come in all of these previous types. Generally virtual interviews have some nuances that separate them. To prepare for these interviews we created a Virtual Interview Preparation Document to help you adjust for these changes.