Interview Effectively

Avoid These Common Interview Mistakes

  • Lack of organization research
  • Poor questions asked to the employer
  • Lack of preparation for interview questions

For an overview of how to successfully navigate the interviewing process, utilize ourPDF icon Effective Interviewing Handout. Be sure to prepare for your interview by reviewing ourPDF icon Professional Dress Handout. Also, utilize the resources below to avoid these three interview mistakes and increase your likelihood of landing a great position. 

Organization Research

Be sure to investigate key products/services, organization values/mission/culture, growth plans, latest company news as well as current events that might impact the organization. Key places to find this information include:

Prepare Questions for the Employer

Employers want you to show genuine interest about their organization by asking thoughtful questions during the interview. Type a list of questions and bring it with you to the interview. For ideas on what to ask and what to avoid check out our Asking Questions in Your Interview Handout.

Prepare For Interview Questions

General Questions

Develop a list of key skills required for the position based on the job description, and anticipate questions that might be asked. (For example: If the job mentions team work numerous times, they are likely to ask a question about team work.) For a list of commonly asked questions, see ourPDF icon Interview Questions Handout.

Behavioral Questions

Once you have this list of skills and possible questions, it is CRITICAL to think of specific examples of times when you have used each skill effectively in jobs, internships, academics or activities. This type of question is called a behavioral interview question, and most organizations use these questions during interviews. Students often feel these are the most challenging because they ask you to generate a specific example on the spot. It is critical to prepare well for these! Our Behavioral Interviews Handout has strategies for answering behavioral questions and samples.

Sample Interview 1-Needs Improvement

Sample Interview 2-More Effective

Additional Interview Question Resources

Practice!

Practice answering questions out loud. Verbal rehearsal is much more effective than simply thinking things through in your mind.

  • Schedule an in-person practice interview with a career advisor
  • Utilize Interview Stream, a service for UMN students that allows you to complete a virtual mock interview using a webcam or the camera on your mobile device. Create an account, pick the questions you want to practice, and start interivewing.

After an Interview

Follow up your interview by sending a thank you email and/or letter to the interviewer(s), ideally within 24 hours. For ideas on what to write, see our Thank You Letter Handout. It is okay to email or call the employer to inquire about the status of the position if you have not heard from them. The timing of this communication should be based on the timeline they discussed with you at the end of the interview. If a time frame was not provided, contact them in one week to reiterate your interest in the position and ask for an update on the hiring timeline. We encourage you to continue actively job searching while you wait to hear back on an interview. This ensures that if you do not receive an offer, you will have other options to pursue.

Additional Resources

Check out the "Top Skills for Interview Preparation, Follow Through, and Follow Up" Webinar from the UMN Alumni Association.

To skip intro content and get straight into the interviewing content, start the video at 3:26.