Prepare For An Interview

What's the #1 interview 'do'? Research!

Not only do you need to learn about the company in which you are applying, but also about the position.  Most companies are easily accessible on the internet and those that aren't may be researched through various trade and industry journals.  See the library study guide online for more information on researching companies.
The effort and time you put into it now will pay off for you in the long run. Who knows, the first question out of your interviewers mouth just may be "What do you know about our company?"

NEW: Did the employer say they want to interview you via Skype, and you don't have a good place to do it?  Don't have a webcam? Come to the Career Education Office!  We have a laptop and easy to use webcam to facilitate any kind of remote interviewing. Contact Ms. Shelton for details.

The Do's and Don'ts of Interviewing

Your interview will make or break a job offer.  Follow these simple guidelines for a successful experience.

Interview Do's

  • Display a confidant posture and maintain eye contact.
  • Be aware of your personal hygiene.
  • Give a firm handshake.
  • Practice and know your introduction.  "Hi, I'm John Smith.  I'm a senior at Hampden-Sydney College majoring in Mathematical Economics."
  • Develop a list of questions ahead of time.
  • Bring copies of your resume and references; store them in a portfolio.  Resumes should be printed on high quality paper.  This paper, along with portfolios, is available for purchase at most retail outlets as well as our bookstore.
  • Dress for success.
  • Research the company and the job in which you have applied for.
  • Know the location of your interview and plan your drive time so you won't be late.
  • Send a thank you note after the interview to each person you met with.

Interview Don'ts

  • Cell phones should be left in the car. If you bring it with you, turn the volume off.
  • Avoid telling jokes.
  • No gum or candy.
  • Don't get too comfortable in the interview. Maintain good posture and eye contact.
  • Try not to smoke once dressed for your interview. The scent will stay on your clothing. Never smoke during an interview.
  • Avoid desperation responses. When asked "Why should I hire you?" refrain from telling the interviewer it's because you have a lot of bills to pay or that you really need a job.
  • No negative talk. This includes saying bad things about you, a former company or employer.
  • Steer clear of the short-sale. This is your time to shine so tell the interviewer what skills you DO possess.
  • Don't over talk but also avoid yes or no responses. Employers need specific examples.
Dress for Success

You only get one chance to make a good first impression! As you prepare, put together a look that is confident, professional and one that makes you look like you belong in the organization.

Acceptable attire:

Suit - Dark suit or blazer with matching slacks.
Dress Shirt - Long-sleeved shirt in a solid color.
Tie - Choose a tie with a subdued pattern and color.
Socks - You must wear socks!  Select dark, solid colored socks that match your suit or slacks.
Shoes - Dress shoes only.  No dock siders and remember to polish.
Belt or Suspenders - Pick one and make sure that whatever your choice, it matches your professional attire.

Some Questions Interviewers Ask

Tell me about yourself.  (Use this question as a means to briefly elaborate on your resume.  Do not discuss personal information.)
What are some of your strengths?  What are some of your weaknesses?
What internship/job related skills have you developed through your coursework?
How will this internship/job relate to your long-term career goals?
Give me an example of how you have encountered and handled a conflict.
What do you hope to gain from this experience?
What type of work environment are you most successful in?
Name three things that are important to you in a work experience.
Why should I hire you?
Tell me about a project or presentation that you are particularly proud of and why.
In what ways do you feel you will make a contribution to this company?
What do you know about our company?
What qualities are you looking for in a manager/supervisor?
(You can find more examples at

Questions Interviewees Ask

What industry trends will occur in this company?
What makes your firm different from its competitors?
What are your expectations for new hires?
What qualities are you looking for in your new hires?
What do you feel are your company's strengths and weaknesses?
Describe the typical first year assignments that I would be working on.
What is the overall structure of the department where the position is located?
What type of training do you provide new hires?
What type of continuous training is provided to your staff?
What professional development opportunities will be available to me?
Will I be assigned a mentor my first year of employment?

Finally, Some Real Feedback from Employers on Interviews



Interview Questions-Employers' Perspectives [Video]. (2007).  Retrieved December 7, 2010, from

Interview Dos and Don'ts [Video]. (2007). Retrieved December 7, 2010, from