Thayer School Career Services offers services and resources to assist students and alumni with interviewing skills, including individual advising appointments, a mock interview program (held annually in October), and workshops. Several good books on interviewing are also available in the Thayer Career Services Library.
Preparing for Interviews - Overview
Think of preparing for interviews as a three-step process:
Self-assessment and preparation goes a long way in helping you to prepare answers to questions such as "tell me about yourself," "describe your working style," and "what is your most significant accomplishment." As the process of self-evaluation is sometimes difficult, peers, professors and family can be invaluable sources of information in helping you think about your own attributes and personality traits. Career Services staff can then help you frame this information within the context of the position to which you apply—i.e. how your ability to function as a quiet leader on group projects could potentially transfer to a project-based position in industry.
Know the employer, and how you can contribute.
Most employers will expect you to have researched their company prior to the interview, and to be familiar with the products and services that they offer their clients. You may find our "Resources for Conducting Employer Research" to be helpful in jump-starting your research beyond a company's website and annual reports. You will not be expected to know "everything." However, you will add value to your candidacy if you can demonstrate that you possess a fundamental understanding of the nature of their work and how you could potentially contribute as an employee.
Show up, be interested and follow-up.
Much of this is common sense. Show up on time and dress appropriately. Make good eye contact. Answer the question asked (i.e. stay on topic), and ask for clarification if you need it. Be prepared with questions that demonstrate that you've thought about the position and researched the employer. (Note: The generic question "what is your ideal candidate for this position?" is not a good question to ask as they would not have invited you to interview if they didn't think that you might be a good fit for the job.)
Show that you are engaged in the process. From the employer's perspective, extending an offer for a paid position is a substantive financial commitment as well as a statement of trust and faith in your abilities and character. As in many interpersonal relationships, employers are more likely to respond favorably to your candidacy if they receive positive feedback from you. Follow-up promptly (within 48 hours) with a thank you note.
NOTE: Never forget that the interviewing process is one of mutual selection. While you may find yourself preoccupied with your own interviewing performance, remember that how you answer the questions and how you are evaluated by the employer is only part of the process. The interview is also an opportunity for you to evaluate the employer, the position, and the work involved. Should you receive and accept an offer, you will spend more time a week with your colleagues than with most individuals in your life; it's important that you like them and the work that you do.
Types of Interviews
TIP: You may find suggestions and tips directly from the source: many employers include information about their interviewing process and philosophy on their websites.