Acting The Interview



Ready Prep Interview (job interview questions, behavioral job interview questions)


The culmination of your college efforts begins with obtaining your first job interview. If you have created and effective and professional resume, the job interview becomes your opportunity to showcase your qualifications to potential employers. Though it may not appear to be true, you are in control of the job interview. As a result, it is in your best interest to study and prepare for each interview.

This guide will help you plan and prepare for an interview. It is important to study the sample questions provided and prepare answers before-hand. By portraying a positive professional attitude, the chances of obtaining a second interview are greatly increased.

The interview process can be viewed as an exchange between employers and students. The basic interview is usually not more than five questions. This guide separates the interview process into two stages and provides tips and guidelines for each phase:

  • The Pre-Interview
  • The Interview

The Pre- interview discusses ways to prepare and study for an interview as, as well as, providing a comprehensive question and answer section. These questions were compiled from those most often asked by employers.

The Interview discusses what to expect and how to act during the actual interview. Following a few key tips from this section could mean the difference between finding a career of your dreams or just another job.


The main goal of the Pre-Interview is to fully prepare yourself for the interview. At this point in your job search, it is assumed you have completed your resume and it has attracted enough interest that you have been requested for a personal interview. In order to make the interview successful, you must make a commitment to be prepared. Many individuals will argue that there is no way to predict which topics and interviewer will discuss or how he/she will phrase questions. Some categorize interviews into types such as relaxed, structured, pressure, etc. If you are prepared and confident, the interview format is irrelevant since each style will yield the same information to the interviewer.

I.Self Assessment and Preparation

  • Study and be prepared to discuss, in detail, everything on your resume.
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses (Professional and Personal).
  • Set short-term (1-3 years) and long-term (3-5 years) career goals.
  • Identify your career objectives
  • Identify any special skills/training which enhance your marketability.

II.The Company Background Investigation

  • Know at least two relevant details:

- What are their products/services?

- What are their primary industries?

- What is the size of the company?

- Where are the company’s offices and factories located?

- What is the exact job description?

- How does your work/academic background relate to the position?

  • Looking for company information? CHECK

(A)On-line research

(B)College Placement Office (if applicable)

(C)College and Library:

Dunn & Bradstreet’s Million Dollar Directory

Business Periodical’s Index

Moody’s Manual

Standard and Poor’s Industry Guide

III.The Company Dress Code

The potential employer is expecting you to dress as you would when representing his/her company. Be sure your interview wardrobe reflect current business styles.

“You never get a second chance at a first impression”


  • Shave and have well-groomed hair
  • Wear only a quality dark blue or gray suit
  • Avoid brown suits or sports coats
  • White pressed shirt only (No colors or stripes)
  • No vests
  • Clean hands and fingernails
  • Wear over the calf socks which are darker than your suit
  • Well-shined black or cordovan shoes
  • Match belt with shoe color
  • Matching briefcase (Optional, may be awkward during interview)
  • Have a folder/portfolio for resume copies (Required)
  • Use cologne/after-shave only in moderation


  • Wear a dark colored, tailored suit
  • Wear a conservative white or cream blouse (without frills)
  • Avoid extreme slits in skirts
  • Wear basic medium/low healed pumps
  • Clean hands and fingernails
  • Conservative jewelry (no dangles)
  • Matching briefcase (Optional, may be awkward during interview)
  • Have a folder/portfolio for resume copies (Required
  • Use cologne/after-shave only in moderation


This section contains the most commonly asked questions during an interview and addresses considerations when phrasing answers. Every graduating student you are competing with has a similar academic background. Therefore, the key to obtaining an offer of employment is to make your academics, work experience and skills distinguish you from the other individuals. This will take some creative thinking and preplanning. Some general hints are:

  • Be confident and stay in control
  • Do not hesitate
  • Do not let your thoughts wander
  • Relate answers to personal situations or experience

The interviewer’s job is to find an individual who will be a true asset to his/her company. Each interviewer has a specific agenda and is required to obtain certain information from each candidate. Some general characteristics an interviewer is seeking are:

  • Clear and concise communication skills
  • Ability to cope with pressure situations
  • Ambition with defined goals and career direction
  • Interaction skills and a team player
  • Motivation and enthusiasm
  • Willingness to learn and be successful
  • Responsibility
  • A cooperative attitude


1)Tell me about yourself?

Tell me about your background?


  • Stay general, this show well-roundness
  • Deliver a very brief personal background
  • Deliver a brief academic background
  • Highlight any academic/work specifics which relate to the position
  • Deliver a short summary of hobbies, activities and interests
  • State career expectations (Which match the position)
  • Avoid dwelling on family and personal life

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Ascertain how you organize simple thoughts to speech
  • Establish a perspective on your background and how it may affect your future career with his/her company
  • Rating your basic verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • Professionals will attempt to read your body language

2)What are your career goals and how will you achieve them?

What are your short-term and long-term goals?

Where do you see yourself in (x) years?


  • Short-term generally means 1-3 years
  • Long-term generally means 3-10 years
  • Emphasize the fact that you still plan to be working for that company
  • Avoid specifying a position in the company, (it may be the interviewer’s job)
  • Avoid focusing on financial or personal goals
  • Avoid hesitation

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Find an organized employee
  • Determine how much career planning you have done
  • Establish what you think you are capable of accomplishing
  • Identify a positive attitude and motivation toward career advancement

3)What are your strengths and/or weaknesses?

What are your academic strengths and weaknesses?

What strengths would you bring to our company?

What is your most obvious weakness and how do you feel about it?

What would a person you know say your one strength and/or weakness is?


  • Be honest
  • Admit weakness, do not avoid them
  • Do not apologize for any weakness
  • Show how your weaknesses can be strengths for his/her company
  • Determine strengths the employer will need for the position
  • Be brief, do not let the employer know more than he/she needs

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Determine what type of person you are
  • Identify honesty and sincerity
  • Identify weaknesses which may hinder your performance in the position

4)If you were hiring for this position, what attributes would you look for in a candidate?

How does your background and/or experience relate to this position?


  • Familiarize yourself with the position and requirements
  • Focus on relating background/experience to the position
  • Avoid sounding unprepared and hesitant
  • Do not ramble about irrelevant subjects

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Establish if past experiences gives you an advantage over other candidates
  • Determine if you understand the position and its requirements
  • Determine your level of enthusiasm
  • Identify creativity by the way you phrase your response

5)What do you know about the company?

What do you know about our product and services?

Are you familiar with what we do at ABC Company?


  • Know the product/services
  • Know the company’s business and industry
  • Be aware of pertinent financial information
  • Familiarize yourself with key company branches and locations
  • Avoid highlighting any negatives (financial, bad press, etc.)
  • Avoid motherhood statements, ( i.e., “You’re a successful company”)

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Determine the amount of research you have done on the company
  • Measure your level of interest in the position of the company

6)What is your greatest accomplishment and why?

What accomplishment gives you the most satisfaction?


  • Emphasize skills and attributes that make the achievement noteworthy
  • Focus on academic achievements (Dean’s List, Scholarships, etc.)
  • Consider any leadership roles
  • Highlight major projects or published material
  • Mention achievements, academic, physical, recreational, etc.
  • Make accomplishments appear important
  • Do not sell yourself short

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Identify level of commitment to excellence and success
  • Determine your level of self-confidence
  • Determine your level of motivation
  • Establish your general attitude

7)Are you willing to relocate?

Are you willing to travel?


  • If the company is local, relocating may not be an issue
  • Most larger companies are dynamic and will require flexibility
  • Be flexible, you may increase your chances of obtaining the position

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Determine your amount of flexibility
  • Establish a firm commitment to your career and the company

8)What level of salary do you expect?


  • State you are open
  • Avoid setting a price range or firm figure
  • Your worth is unknown until the company knows more about you
  • You may negotiate later
  • Defer the issue of salary until position is offered
  • Positions with a merit or commission pay plan may require more aggressive attitude

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Establish your level of realism
  • Determine your priorities

9)What was your biggest challenge you faced during your college career?


  • Answer with honesty and confidence
  • Focus on academics, social, personal or past experience
  • Highlight any challenge which was a learning experience

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Understand your perception of a challenge
  • Determine your ability to face and overcome a difficult situation
  • Determine your maturity level

10)Do your grades accurately reflect your abilities?


  • Answer with honesty and confidence
  • Do not make excuses for poor academic performance
  • Focus on extra-curricular activities or volunteer work

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Make an honest assessment of your academic performance
  • Establish your level of social interaction and involvement
  • Determine how you analyze and perceive your academic performance

11)Why did you choose the career path for which you are preparing?


  • Focus on interests, hobbies and background experience
  • Mention the challenge of your major and how it motivated you
  • Avoid being too general (i.e., “My mother is an Accountant”)

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Determine if you have a career direction
  • Establish your level of enthusiasm in you field of expertise
  • Determine your commitment to the industry or field

12)Why are you seeking employment with our organization?

What interest you most about our company?

What attracts you to our company?


  • Focus on products /services and how they match your background, experience and interest
  • Avoid being too general (e.i., “You’re a great company”)
  • Do not hesitate to mention personal contacts

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Measure your level of interest and sincerity in the company
  • Determine if there is a match between you and the company

13)What is important to you?

What motivates you?

What makes you strive for success?


  • Focus on any social, personal, professional or financial challenges
  • Be sure to mention more than one motivation factor
  • Challenges are usually overcome with motivation
  • Avoid being too general (i.e., I want my position to be challenging”)

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Identify your personality type
  • Establish whether you are well rounded
  • Determine your level of motivation

14)Give an example of how you would handle a pressure situation. How would you react to the following situation (Interviewer describes a situation)?


  • Use a scenario that demonstrates your skill and ability under pressure
  • Do not be afraid to add drama and set the stage
  • Make the interviewer feel the pressure of the situation
  • Highlight your qualities and attributes which assisted you in overcoming the situation
  • Show the thought process of how you dealt with the situation
  • Avoid trivial situations (“I got a flat on the way to final exams”)

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Determine your approach to uncomfortable situations
  • Establish your involvement and commitment to the situation
  • Establish your level of persistence to overcome a real challenge
  • Determine your level of responsibility

15)Why did you choose this college/university?


  • Prepare evaluation criteria you used as an applicant
  • Prioritize each criterion and explain
  • Avoid unsuccessful applications to other colleges
  • Avoid negative comments about other institutions
  • Avoid trivial, personal reasons( i.e., “Close to Mom and Dad”)

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Determine how you evaluate important personal decisions
  • Determine your evaluation of the quality of your education
  • Identify honesty, flexibility and maturity

16)What courses did you enjoy most and why?


  • Choose at least two or three courses
  • Courses should be relevant to the position
  • Highlight challenges
  • Avoid negative comments about other courses/professors

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Identify your interests
  • Determine where your enthusiasm and interests lie
  • Assist in determining if there is a match between you and the job
  • Determine your personality type

17)How do you measure success?


  • Focus on personal and professional goals
  • Avoid material wealth

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Establish your priorities and how they fit the company
  • Determine how you evaluate, measure and perceive success

18)What criteria are you using to evaluate this company?


  • Career challenge of position
  • Company stability and success
  • Industry growth
  • Management track record
  • Promotability and training programs for career development
  • Interest in products/services
  • Benefits program
  • Corporate location (Explain why)

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Determine if the company philosophy matches your expectations
  • Determine if your skills match the needs of the position

19)Who is/was the single most influential person in your life?

Name one person who you admire most and why?


  • Identify a person who you truly admire
  • Identify the qualities you admire in that person
  • Focus your answer on why more than who

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • Obtain insight into qualities you find important in people
  • Determine what characteristics you are most likely to emulate

20)Have you had any other interviews?

Have you had any other job offer s ?


  • Be honest
  • Avoid divulging more information than is required

Interviewer’s Goals:

  • If he/she is interested in you, they will look to support their decision
  • Assess the level of competition they face


The objective of the interview is to determine if a match exists between you and the employer. The interviewer must decide if you are a superior candidate compared to other students and you must decide if this is the right opportunity for you

The interviewer is looking for the following in every job applicant:

  • Good overall skills
  • The ability to interact with others
  • A match between the position and your qualifications
  • Professional aptitude
  • Personal impressions and level of motivation
  • Job interest and career goals
  • Leadership potential
  • Creativity and problem solving skills
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication skills
  • Honesty and sincerity
  • Responsibility
  • Ambition and commitment
  • Maturity
  • Capability to perform the jobs functions


It is now time to sell yourself to the potential employer. Distinguish yourself from your peers . Enter the interview with a positive mental attitude. You will be faced with many questions. If you are prepared, you will succeed. Be sure to keep the following tips in mind, though appearing obvious, many individuals overlook details:


  • Have practiced your responses to the questions presented in the previous section
  • Have extra copies of your resume in a portfolio/briefcase
  • Arrive approximately 5 minutes before the scheduled time, any sooner may catch the interviewer off guard causing him/her to rush
  • While waiting, relax and gather your thoughts
  • It is completely natural to be nervous


  • Introduce yourself, speak slowly and clearly
  • Offer a firm handshake and make eye contact
  • When the interviewer introduces himself/herself, repeat their name, this will help you remember ( i.e., “Nice to meet you Mr. Smith”)
  • Sit down only when asked or when the interviewer does
  • Do not answer any questions with just a “yes” or ‘no”, even if it is a closed-ended question



  • Appear to be interested and motivated
  • Sit up straight
  • Have confidence in your self
  • Be attentive
  • Be alert and listen
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Follow the pattern of conversation


  • Address interviewer by his/her first name
  • Smoke or chew gum
  • Interrupt the interviewer
  • Have bad breath
  • Let your eyes wander
  • Glance at your watch
  • Dominate the interview discussion
  • Seem overly comfortable
  • Play with items on the interviewer’s table/desk
  • Put personal items on the interview table
  • Pat yourself on the back continuously
  • Be overconfident


The close of the interview is usually signified when the interviewer asks you if you have any further questions. He/she will determine your interest and motivation levels by assessing the quality of your questions. Remember to follow these tips:

  • Always leave the interview termination to the interviewer
  • Be sure to ask at least 3-4 meaningful questions
  • Ask open-ended questions:

Incorrect: “Do you have a training program?”

Correct: “Tell me about your training program”

  • Avoid asking the interviewer personal questions


1) What is the typical career path for this position?

2) What is a typical day on the job like?

3) What are the company’s views on advanced education?

4) What is the average age of your first level managers?

5) How often are performance appraisals given?

6) What is the process of transferring between divisions?

7) Please explain the benefits program?

8) Tell me about your training program.


  • Thank the interviewer
  • Ask the interviewer for a business card
  • If you are not instructed about the company’s follow-up, ASK
  • Express your sincere interest in the position


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