The key to successful interviewing is preparation & practice. Knowing these tips, types of questions, and the general hiring process will help!
How do I get an interview?
How do I get an interview?
- Update & tailor. Edit your resume and cover letter with key words. Confirm your references.
- Get materials reviewed. Get your application materials for typos, content, relevance by friends, family, faculty, staff or the Career Center!
- Meet Employers. Participate in Career Fairs, On-Campus Interviews, Events, etc.
- Make Connections. Chat with Alums, Interns, Graduate Assistants, Family & Friends, Customers, etc.
- Apply for positions. For tips, see our Job & Internship Strategies & About Handshake pages.
- Follow the Directions. Meet the application deadline, submit required materials, include minimum qualifications, sign up for an interview time.
How do I prepare for an interview?
How do I prepare for an interview?
- Know yourself & your needs vs. wants
- Brainstorm your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Prepare to share specific examples.
- Show your interest and ability to contribute to the workplace.
- Know why you are interested in the employer & position
- Know your availability & needs vs. wants
- Research Employers (e.g. Why are you interested in working here?)
- Review mission, vision, values, philosophy, annual reports, community engagement, news/social media, and awards.
- Research Employer's size, locations, reputation, culture, affinity groups, products/services/brands, growth, and new initiatives.
- Use Employer websites, Handshake, UMD Library's Resource Guide, LinkedIn, and your connections.
- Practice out loud
- Record yourself answering questions
- Practice with others and/or make an appointment with a Career Development Specialist
- Practice online with Interviewing.com (see login instructions below)
- Confirm interview details
- Date & time including time zone
- Modality (virtual or in-person)
- Location, dress code, etc.
Hiring process overview
Total hiring process averages between 3 - 6 months for the employer!
- Timeframe: From interview process to start date averages between 19 - 43 days.
- Advertising & Recruiting: Employer post & announces opening on company website and other job sites. Reaches out to their network for referrals.
- Candidate Review: Employer reviews and ranks candidates to determine who to ask to interview.
- Interviews: Employer conducts one or more rounds of interviews, narrowing it down to top candidates, and invites finalists for in person interviews.
- Reference Checks: Employer checks 2 - 3 references that you provided.
- Job offer(s): Employer offers the position to first choice and down the list until a candidate accepts. Or starts process over for failed search.
- You accept the job! Negotiate your salary, benefits, and start date then email a formal acceptance letter. Send a resignation letter to your current employer (typically giving a two week minimum notice.)
- Background checks & new hire paperwork: Typically you will work with Human Resources to complete these forms.
- Start new job! Complete new employee orientation, get your office keys, company email, etc. Thank your references!
What should I expect during the interview?
- Interview modality & audiences
- Virtually, in person, or by phone.
- Each round (if more than 1 interview) could be in a different modality.
- Multiple interviews may involve different audiences (group/co-workers, panel/search committee, presentation, supervisor, etc.)
- What will they ask me?
The same questions and interview length will be given to each candidate. E.g. 8 questions & 30 minutes. Sometimes you will receive the questions ahead of time.
Types of Questions:
- Opening questions. Tell me about yourself.
- Company Research questions. Why do you want to work here?
- Credential/Experience questions. How have you used this software? Describe your experience managing budgets.
- Opinion questions. What qualities does a good supervisor have? What have you learned from your mistakes?
- Behavioral questions. Describe a challenging situation and how you handled it.
- Personal style questions. What motivates you? How would your co-worker describe you?
- Closing questions. What questions do you have for me? What can I clarify for you? Can I contact your references?
- Questions to ask the employer.
Have 2-3 questions to ask. Questions already answered? Share the questions you were going to ask.
- Work culture. What is your favorite part of working here? How would you describe the work environment?
- The position. What are key challenges facing the person in this position? What are your expectations for this role?
- Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. Do you have any affinity groups to support diverse populations? What social justice causes do you support?
- Next steps. What are the next steps? When should I expect to hear from you?
- Illegal questions. Hopefully you won't be asked questions that ask about your:
- Age, Criminal History, Disabilities, Ethnicity, Financial Status, Marital Status & Children, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Veteran's Status.
- If you are asked an illegal question, you could: 1) Answer anyway; 2) Decline to answer; 3) Ask for question clarification, e.g. Are you curious if I'm able to work nights & weekends?
How do I answer?
Use the SAR method to share a specific example:
- Situation. Give brief context.
- Action. Describe your actions.
- Results. Share results or learning.
Strategies to display calm & confidence:
- Breathe & Smile. Both are relaxation strategies.
- Pause. It is o.k. to think about your response before answering.
- Repeat the question. Gives you a moment to organize your thoughts.
- Clarify. Rephrase the question, and ask if that is what they are looking for?
- Pass. State that you do not have experience in that area, but are willing to learn.
What should I do after the interview?
- Reflect & record key details. Questions asked, interviewers’ names & contact info, new information shared, next steps, benefit details, things to improve on for next time.
- Send a thank you letter. Send after an interview, career conversation, career fair session, or networking event. Read A Perfect Interview Thank You for tips.
- Follow up. Weighing different offers with deadlines? Follow up once in method stated by employer.
- Withdraw application? You realized during the interview this opportunity or employer was not for you. Send an email to withdraw your application.
I have an offer! Now what?
Find out more on our How to Navigate Offers page!
Including how to:
- Prepare for an offer
- Evaluate an offer
- Negotiate an offer and/or salary
- Accept an offer
- Reject an offer
- Increase your changes of receiving an offer