What is an interview’s purpose?

When going into an interview know what you want and what you have to offer.  This is the first opportunity the employer has to meet and speak with you so your first impression is critical.  Your goal is to show the employer that you can not only do the job but you will also be a valuable member to their team.  You’re not just choosing a career-you’re making a choice about your life.  Interviewing is a step to getting that perfect job or finding out where and how you will fit in with that organization.

Key questions an employer has during an interview

  • Can the person do the job?
  • Will the person do the job?
  • What does the candidate want to do with their career and this job?
  • Will the person be compatible with the existing team/organization?

Stages of an interview

  • Introduction Phase
  • Exchange of Information or Questioning Phase
  • Closing Phase
  • Post-Interview
  • Follow-Up

types of interviews

A case interview is an opportunity to analyze a scenario given to you by an interviewer. This is an interactive process in which the interviewer will provide a detailed situation, or scenario and ask you to come up with a solution. The interviewer is typically looking for an analytical and creative thought process, and there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer. It may be beneficial for you to process the scenario aloud so the interviewer can understand your thought process in solving the problem.

Sample Case Interview Questions:
  • "A restaurant owner is setting up a new restaurant and is making a decision on the facilities to place in the restrooms for customers to dry their hands. Initial research suggests that she has three options – paper towels, roller towels, and hot air dryers. She needs to decide today.  What should she consider in her decision making process?”

  • “Volvo claims it is the safest car in the world because fewer people die in a Volvo than in a car made by any other manufacturer in the world. What's wrong with this conclusion?”

In a technical interview, interviewers are going to ask questions that mainly pertain to your fundamentals. With strong fundamentals, you will be better prepared to tackle any open-ended questions that are asked. This will allow interviewers to get an idea of how you think, and see your thought process through your use of communication.

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when preparing for a technical interview:

  • Relate to specific knowledge about the company's technical activities;
  • Relate to understanding the technical work required to be completed as part of the job applied for;
  • Relate to work completed as part of a degree course (if this relates to the job applied for);
  • Require candidates to solve actual technical problems that they would be likely to face if employed.

A panel interview allows several members of a hiring company to interview a job candidate at the same time. In most cases, they will be on their own with the panel, but in other scenarios, there could be several candidates and interviewers all in the room at once. In this situation, each interviewer will then ask every candidate a question in turn.

Sample Panel Interview Questions:


A behavioral interview occurs when a job candidate is asked to describe past behavior in order to determine whether they are suitable for a position. This is done to determine if you possess specific qualities that are needed for the particular position that you applied for. When answering questions at a behavioral interview, use the STAR method to structure your response. Make sure that you follow all parts of the STAR method. Be as specific as possible.

Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.

Task: What goal were you working toward?

Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on YOU. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution? Be careful that you don’t describe what the team or group did when talking about a project, but what you actually did. Use the word “I,” not “we” when describing actions.

Result: Describe the outcome of your actions and don’t be shy about taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions:

  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.

  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split-second decision.

  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.

preparing for an interview

When preparing for your interview, do your research. Know about the company and the position.

Researching the Employer

  • Find out about:
    • location
    • size, including the number of locations and employees
    • services or products, including new products and projects
    • competitors within the industry
    • growth pattern
    • reputation
    • divisions and subsidiaries
    • sales, assets, earnings
    • any foreign operations.
  • Are they participating on campus, whether through the University Career Center or another office?  If so, make sure to attend to meet representatives and learn more about their company.
  • Learn as much as you can about the job position and what it requires.  The more information you can find, the easier it will be to match yourself to the position.
  • Browse the internet for recent news stories or other information of note.  Explore what the news outlets have said, blogs, or general company information sites such as The Riley Guide, Jobweb’s Employer Profiles, Hoover’s On-Line, or the Atkins Library Databases for Company Research.
  • Check out or for more information on companies and typical interview questions.
  • Contact Alumni found through LinkedIn and Facebook.