Undergraduate Interviewing

Practice Your Interview Technique

Think like the interviewers: What are they looking and listening for? What are you saying about yourself with each answer?

Try to anticipate the types of questions an employer is likely to ask. Every interview will address the position description; therefore make sure you are familiar with what the position entails. Do some research to determine what attitudes are important to their culture. Connect with your career coach to see if there is an alumni contact you can speak with who can help you prepare. The more you know about the company headed into the interview, the better off you are.


Interview Stages

Before Know your product

Self-assessment—know your values
Think critically about your experience
Practice interview questions

  Know the client Company research
Job description knowledge
  Know your purpose Why are you a good match?
  The first impression Arrive early
Professional appearance and dress
Be friendly with every person you encounter
During The introduction Handshake, first impression
  The questions Interviewers questions
Your questions
After Thank the interviewer Write a thank-you letter to everyone involved in interview process
  Follow-up Contact company with any additional information discussed in interview

Use the STAR Method

The best way to answer interview questions about your experience is using the STAR Method. The STAR method allows you to answer questions in a direct, logical and meaningful way that best portrays your past experience and transferrable skills. When the interviewer asks you a question be sure to listen carefully and think of a specific experience you can share. Then, answer with the: 

  • Situation – Describe a specific event or situation that you were in. The who, what, where, when, etc.
  • Task – Explain the task you had to complete highlighting any specific challenges or constraints.
  • Action – Describe the specific actions that you took to complete the task. These should highlight desirable traits you think the interviewer is looking for based on the job description and your research about the position.
  • Result – Close with the result of your efforts being sure to also highlight what you learned from the experience

Be Prepared - Sample Questions

  • Elevator Pitch: Introduction
  • Behavioral Questions - These questions are likely to start with the phrase, “tell me about a time when…” You’re encouraged to provide a specific example that aligns with the question. Tip to prepare: think about experiences you have had that relate to skills like communication, leadership, time management, critical thinking and collaboration.
  • Support diversity and understand related issues: students should understand the importance of working with people from different backgrounds and ideas.
  • Case Questions: You may be provided with a scenario, and you would need to explain the situation and what the implications might be for various outcomes. NOTE: The Eller Professional Admission Process includes a values case with an ethical dilemma
  • Library of Interview Questions

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

  • What are the long-term objectives for this position? If I perform well, what would you expect me to have accomplished in a year?
  • Describe your ideal candidate for this position.
  • What are some of the difficult challenges of this position or within this company?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement and how do I train for higher positions?
  • What is the company culture like here and how has it developed?

Interviewing on the Phone

Phone interviews are often a key step in any job application process. In effort to narrow down the amount of candidates, a company will often do multiple rounds of phone interviews. All preparation before the interview and follow-up after is the same as in person, but here is how to ace the interview:

  • Print out your resume! Have that and a copy of the job description sitting in front of you.
  • Make sure you are at a computer. Do not get distracted by it during the call, but it is great to have the company website pulled up and the ability to quickly get a piece of information if need be.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. If you schedule something too close after a phone interview and it runs long, you do not want to have to give short answers in order to get off the phone. If the interview does go long that probably means you are doing a great job! Leave a minimum of 30 minutes for every interview.
  • Dress like it is a face to face interview. Wearing at least business causal will give the feel of a important interview and put you in the right mindset to succeed.
  • Smile—it helps! Smiling during your answers will give your voice a jolt of excitement and energy that can often be lost over the phone.

Once again, remember to send a note to your interviewer thanking them afterwards.

Interviewing Virtually

When distance prohibits an in-person interview from taking place, Zoom or other live (or pre-recorded) video interviews can be used instead. Here are a few tips to succeed:

  • Make sure to check all of your audio and video settings before the interview starts. Try video calling a friend beforehand to make sure everything is working properly.
  • Suit up! Show the interviewer that you take the interview as seriously as you would if it were in person.
  • Be conscious of your surroundings. Make sure it is a quiet location with an appropriate setting. The backdrop of your video should be professional and not distracting.

Same as phone and in-person, always send a thank you as a follow up!

Pre-Recorded Video Interviews

More and more employers now use pre-recorded video interview software instead of phone or Zoom to conduct the first round of interviews. During a pre-recorded interview you will be given interview questions and asked to record yourself answering these questions within a set time. Pre-recorded interviews are different than other interview formats because you will not have the ability to build rapport or ask questions with the back and forth interaction of a traditional interview. Here are a few tips to succeed:

  • Make sure your webcam is positioned so you sit at eye-level, that there is adequate lighting in the room and that the background is professional and not distracting.
  • Practice recording yourself answering interview questions and watch them with a critical eye before you complete the real interview recording.
  • Speak clearly, enunciate and try not to sound like a robot. Even though you aren’t talking to a person a person will be watching and evaluating your interview and you want your personality to shine through.
  • Be mindful of deadlines. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete the video recording.

You should still follow up with a thank you note to the person who invited you to complete the interview. Instead of thanking them for their time you can thank them for the opportunity to complete the pre-recorded interview.

Interviewing Etiquette

Your job interview etiquette—or lack of it—will not go unnoticed by respectable employers.

Knowing proper job interview etiquette is an important part of successful interviewing. How you dress, what you bring to a job interview, how you greet the interviewer and how you communicate can all make a big difference in the outcome of the interview.
Following up with a thank you note is on the list of interview etiquette best practices. Taking the time to say thank you not only shows that you appreciated the interview, it also gives you an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the job.
At some point in time, you may find yourself in the position where you need to cancel a job interview. Most employers will understand that emergencies will happen. If you find yourself in that situation, handling it in a professional way will allow you to keep good communication open with the employer and reflect well with them. When cancelling, remember to provide advanced notice, be honest and apologize for the inconvenience. A no-show to an interview is unprofessional and employers take notice. 

Pearl of Wisdom: You never know who you are going to meet or how a total stranger might positively affect your career downstream. Leave people with a positive impression of you. It could pay dividends in the future.