Effective Interviewing

Receiving an opportunity to interview with a prospective employer is cause for celebration in one’s pursuit for a new job. Interviewing can often create anxiety though. Being well prepared is the key to fighting anxiety and performing well during interviews.


It’s important to do some research on the company and the position before interviewing. Many companies have their own websites where you can easily access this information. You need to have a good understanding of what the company does, their business model, their culture, and how the position you applied for contributes to the company goals. There are lots of great sources of information about companies and you can easily find these using a simple Google search.

What to Bring

First, dress for success and use the "notch above" rule. Dress more formally than people at the company dress for work. If you imagine they wear business casual, wear business formal. If they wear casual, go business casual. Error on the side of formal.

Here are a few other things to bring to an interview:

  • At least three copies of your resume
  • At least three references, preferably former supervisors who can speak to your performance
  • A list of questions to ask them
  • Pen and paper to write down notes during the interview

Types of Interviews

Many people think of interviews as one on one conversations between a hiring manager and a candidate. That is often the case, but not always. Interviews come in many shapes and sizes.

  • One-on-one interview – A single candidate and single interviewer
  • Panel interviews – A panel interview has multiple interviewers and one candidate. It’s important to speak to each person in the group, not just the one who is most senior or the person you perceive to have the most decision-making power.
  • Group interviews – Group interviews have multiple candidates that participate in a group discussion. This is common in high turnover jobs or sales jobs where they’re looking for outgoing people.

Regardless of the type of interview, be aware of your body language during the conversation. Make good eye contact and project a positive, confident person.

Ask Questions

Be prepared to ask questions at the end of the interview – the best questions are those that relate back to something just discussed during your interview. Questions seeking to learn more about the position and the company’s business are good questions. However, you should be ready with a list of questions in case you can’t think of anything on the spot. We recommend going into an interview with at least 10 questions. Chances are that 5 or 6 questions will have been answered during the course of the interview so you want to have 4 or 5 good ones left to ask.

Do not ask questions that are very basic or can easily be found in the job posting or online company information. Asking "What products does your company make?" tells the employer right away that you haven’t done your homework. Also, avoid asking about compensation or time off. It’s not the right time for these questions. Asking "How would you describe the company culture?" evokes discussion and shows you’re engaged in your workplace.

For higher-level positions, you may want to treat the interview as a needs analysis. Pretend you already have the job and you’re meeting with your manager for the first time. What business needs does the department or manager have that you can help them address in your role? What may be sources of frustration or difficulty? How would you be evaluated? What are the performance standards and expectations?

In the midst of trying to ask good questions, you certainly need to be asking questions that help you determine if the company is a good fit for you. Too often, job seekers focus on the goal of getting the job without getting enough information that tells them if the job is a good fit for their personality and work style. You want to be successful, happy, and experience personal growth in a job that is a good fit for you.

After you’ve asked a few questions, you’ll want to segue to the end of the interview. You might ask, "What is the next step in the selection process?" You can also ask about a possible timeline if the company has one. Note the timeframe. Then you will know what to expect and when it would be appropriate to follow up. Be sure to get a business card from each person you interview with so you can send a thank you note.

Close Strong

It’s great to end the interview with a "close". Something like: "After this interview, I am even more interested in the position and the company, and I am confident that I have the skills necessary to exceed your expectations. Is there any other information I can provide you to demonstrate that I am a good fit for the position?"

After the Interview

Send a thank you note after the interview. This can either be an email or a hand-written thank you card.

In general, you’ll want to avoid unnecessary follow ups, but if it has been a few days after they said they would get back to you, it is okay to call to ask about the status of your application.

Effective Interviewing FAQs