The key to successful interviewing is preparation & practice. Knowing these tips, types of questions, and the general hiring process will help!

Expand all

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 GuideLinkedIn, 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 (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 Process

  • 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. 

    Ask about:
    • 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