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School of Labor & Employment Relations University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Interviewing Guidelines

Do your homework. Research the company so you can showcase your knowledge. This will boost your credibility with the interviewer and help you to formulate intelligent questions.

Rehearse. Prepare answers to common questions the interviewer is likely to ask such as What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why do you want to work here? Why should we hire you? and the ever popular Tell me about yourself. Conduct a mock interview with a trusted friend, LER Career Services staff, or the The Career Center.

Look the part. Your clothing should be neat, pressed, and professional. Err on the side of conservative; even if everyone’s wearing jeans when you arrive, you’re better being overdressed. Make sure to have a fresh haircut and clean, manicured nails.

Arrive early. Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before the interview. Visit the restroom and check your appearance in the mirror. Announce yourself to the receptionist. Turn your cell phone off so it doesn’t ring during your meeting.

Bring necessary documentation. Make a checklist of documents you will need for the interview, and be sure to bring them – copies of your résumé, a passport, driver’s license, Social Security card, or portfolio of writing samples or other professional work. If you are a recent graduate, you should also bring your college transcripts.

Sell yourself. The interview is your chance to shine, so now is not the time to be humble. Develop a 25-second sales pitch that sings your praises. In business this is called an “elevator speech,” a compelling overview of why you? that can be recited in the time it takes to ride the elevator. Include your strengths, abilities, and what sets you apart from other applicants.

Don’t neglect to ask questions. Based on your earlier research, ask how the responsibilities of the open position relate to the company’s goals and plans for the future. Interviewers are often favorably impressed by candidates who show they are knowledgeable about the organization.

Follow up. Within 24 hours of the interview, send a handwritten note or friendly email thanking the interviewer for the time and consideration, as well as restating your interest and commitment to the position. Review or remind the employer about your qualifications for the position. If you thought of something you forgot to mention in the interview, mention it in your follow-up/thank-you letter. If you don’t hear anything after one week, call to politely inquire when they will be making a final decision.

Every interview is a valuable learning experience. Even if you don’t get this job, you’ll be much better prepared and improve your chances for the next job.