Best Practices for the Interview

If you followed our advice on preparing for the interview, you should have a little extra confidence knowing that you are well prepared.  Here is what to do when the time comes for the actual interview:

  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early.  Turn off your cell phone and double-check your appearance.
  • When the interviewer is ready for you, greet him or her with a smile and introduce yourself; be confident and natural.  Remember the company has chosen you for an interview so you have the required background.
  • Give the interviewer(s) your full attention and make a lot of eye contact.  Don’t let anything happening around you distract you.
  • Use your best manners.  Say please and thank you, and don’t interrupt.  Use good posture.  It is okay to be comfortable in your chair, but do not slouch.
  • Try to relax and talk the way you would with your academic advisor or trusted professor.
  • Convey your interest in the position and thank the interviewer for the opportunity to discuss your qualifications.
  • Listen carefully to questions and ask for clarification if you are uncertain about what is being asked.
  • Answer questions as truthfully as possible while highlighting the skills and other pieces of information that you want the interviewer to know about you.  The interviewer will not know anything about you unless you tell him/her.
    • Do not be overly modest; be comfortable sharing your personal contributions and accomplishments.
    • Use “we” to show that you are a team player and to share credit when appropriate, but use “I” more because the interviewer is specifically interested your contributions.
    • Don’t make vague proclamations of your skills.   Small but telling actions and behaviors are more important than grandiose, unsubstantiated claims of success.
    • Keep your answers positive and concentrate on how your past experiences have prepared you for the position being discussed.  If a question requires you to talk about a negative experience, keep your answer short and end on a positive note, such as the things you learned from the experience.
    • Use the STAR method to help keep your answers focused while still providing the information that the interviewer needs.
    • Watch the interviewer’s body language.  Look and listen for clues that indicate that you might be providing too much or too little detail.  If there are a lot of follow-up questions to dig more information out of you, then you are not providing enough depth in your answers.  If body language indicates a lack of interest in what you are saying, then you are probably not being relevant, clear, or focused with your answers.
    • Give a variety of examples to show that you wisely apply professional actions in all aspects of your life.  Your most important projects and comprehensive work experiences may be used as answers for multiple questions but try not to answer all questions based around one particular job or project.
  • Ask a couple of questions if time allows.  After the interviewer is done asking questions, usually they will give you the opportunity to ask questions.  The interview is not over yet.  They are still evaluating your communication skills, interest in the position, and fit with their company based on the questions you ask.
    • The questions you ask deserve just as much thought as the answers you gave to their questions.
    • Be careful not to ask questions the interviewer already answered or that you could have easily answered yourself with a visit to their website.
    • Ask probing questions about subjects such as the nature of the engineering work that you will be doing, the collaboration that occurs at the company, the likely employment stability of the position, etc.  You might want to ask the interviewer about his or her experiences and why they chose to work at the company.
    • If not already covered, end by asking when you might expect to hear about the outcome of the interview.
  • Once you are done asking questions let the interviewer wrap up the interview.
    • Ask for the person’s card/contact information (unless you already have their information) so that you can send a thank-you note and otherwise follow up as needed.
    • Shake hands, reiterate your appreciation for the opportunity to interview, and thank the interviewer for his or her time.


The Employment Process Menu


Step 1: Understanding Employers and the College Recruiting Process

    -Maintain a Positive Attitude

Step 2: Determine Career Goals and Skillset

Step 3: Identify Preliminary Target Employers and Industries

Step 4: Develop Effective Marketing Materials

Step 5: Search for Specific Employment and Research Target Companies