All of your hard work researching, networking, and creating tailored resumes and cover letters is paying off and you have an interview! So, what now? The suggestions below and the interview checklist can help!

Before the Interview
Preparation is the key to a successful interview.
  • Research the Organization
  • Attend an interviewing workshop. See the University Career Services calendar on our homepage for workshop dates.
  • View interviewing webshop. Take a look at this quick tutorial to learn about interviewing.
  • Participate in "Interview Practice Day (IPD)." This program is offered twice a semester. See the University Career Services calendar on our homepage for IPD dates.
  • Practice Answering Questions - Parents and professionals are all great resources in preparing for your interview. You can also make an appointment for a practice interview with an industry advisor and/or log on to Interview Stream to practice. 
  • Plan the details - Bring copies of your resume, a list of references, and dress professionally. Make sure you know how to get to the location and how long it takes to get there. Take into account the time of day and potential traffic.
During the Interview
  • Be sure to arrive 10-15 minutes early for your interview
  • Prepare questions to ask the interviewer
  • Give a firm handshake, make eye contact, and be a good listener
After the Interview
Follow-up
  • Send a thank you note.
  • If more than a week has passed beyond the date when you were told you would hear back from the employer, call or e-mail to politely inquire about the status of the organization's decision-making process

Types of Interviews

During an interview, the interviewer's task is to explore whether your qualifications will meet the employers' needs. To be successful, you need to create a good first impression and demonstrate how your education, skills, and experiences meet the employer's needs. 

Here a few common types of interviews and tips for maximizing your chances for success for each type of interview:

Informational interviews

Informational interviews are an opportunity for you to ask for career and industry advice rather than ask for a job.

Use informational interviews to build relationships and learn more about your career field. Use Mason Career Link, found under the Networking tab on your HireMason account, to find professionals, alumni, and friends of Mason who may be willing to meet you for an informational interview.

Here are a few sample emails students can use to reach out to potential informational interview contacts.

Behavioral Interview

The logic behind the behavioral interview is that past performance is the best predictor of future performance. It is helpful to remember the STAR-F formula when answering behavior based questions.


  1. S-ituation you were in
  2. T-ask you faced
  3. A-ction and role you took to respond to or solve the task
  4. R-esult that occurred based on your action
  5. F-eeling you had about the accomplishment

When the interviewer asks, "Tell me about a time when you ..." or a similar question, remember the STAR-F formula. Begin by explaining the situation you were in, and then elaborate in the situation by going through each part of the STAR-F formula.

Case Interview
Case interviews are often used by management consulting and investment banking interviewers to see how you demonstrate your analytical ability and problem solving skills. For more on case interviewing and sample questions visit: Case Interview Practice and Tips from McKinsey.
Telephone Interview

With the hectic schedule that many employers keep and the high cost of travel, don’t be surprised if your initial interview is over the phone instead of face to face. 

  • Be prepared to be called
  • Find a quiet place to talk
  • Be mindful of your voicemail messages -- if you miss the call, call back as soon as possible
  • Breathe and speak clearly to make yourself easy to hear and understand
  • Don’t over talk or under talk: stay calm, and don't be afraid to take a few seconds to think about a question before answering
  • Smile while you speak -- it can actually make you sound more personable
Skype or Video Conferencing Interview

Skyping is an easy way for employers to save on travel expenses for interviews. 

  • Choose a well-lit, clean, and organized location. Appearances count.
  • Light should be hitting your face, not your back -- don't Skype with your back to the sun because that will make it very difficult to see you.
  • Maintain eye contact much like you would with an in person interview
  • Look into the camera, not at the small picture of the interviewer on your screen
  • Dress professionally -- again, appearances are very important
  • Don't open a browser window to your favorite website. It might be a habit, but you need to stay focused.
  • Make sure you have a strong signal on your computer and a lot of battery power. If an error occurs, you can seriously impress the interviewer by being prepared for the situation.

Look the Part: What to Wear to Your Interview

Studies show that 65% of communication is visual. Be sure to dress professionally so you can make the best-possible impression. 

Unless the interviewer explicitly says otherwise, you should always wear a suit to each of your interviews. There's more information about this below.

               Professional Dress     

Wearing professional attire to your interview isn't just about looking good. It shows your interviewer that you care about the interview and took the time to look your best.

How to Dress for an Interview
  • Remember: nobody will judge you for showing up in a suit, but it may not look good if you're the only one who is not wearing a suit.
  • Wear a suit! Choose conservative colors: blue, brown, black or gray
  • Ladies, your skirts should at least reach your knee
  • Is your suit dirty or wrinkled? Spend a little money to get it dry-cleaned a few days before the interview.
  • Wear closed toed shoes, even in the summer
  • Keep the jewelry minimal
  • Travel light -- don't carry a lot of items with you. Just bring your portfolio, business cards, a notepad and pen, and anything else the interviewer requests.
 For more details, visit the Interviewing section of Moving On.

 

 

Interview Resources

Interview

If you would like to practice your interview skills, consider scheduling a practice interview to practice with a Career Counselor, attend Interview Practice Day and use Interview Stream to practice on your own.


Sample Interview Questions
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What is one of your weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Where do you want to be 10 years from now?
  • What are your salary requirements?
  • What do you consider to be one of your strengths?
  • How do your qualifications relate to our position?

See the top ten competencies that are valued by employers here

Sample Questions to Ask the Employer during the Interview
  • What specific skills and experiences would you ideally look for in the person filling this position?
  • How would you describe a typical day in this job?
  • What qualities and characteristics does it take to be successful in this position?
  • What needs to be accomplished in this position in the next 6 to 12 months?
  • What significant changes do you foresee in the future for this position and the company? 
  • How does one advance in the organization?
  • What kind of training do new hires receive in this position in the first three months?
  • How much travel is normally expected? What kind of support does this position receive from coworkers, supervisors, and management?
  • What kinds of programs are offered for professional development?
  • What is the work environment like?
  • What else can I tell you about my qualifications?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?

 

CareerSpots

Career Spots offers several videos that provide interviewing advice before, during and after the interview.


Glassdoor

Glassdoor is an online resource which will provide you with an inside look at salaries, reviews, and interview questions posted by employees at over 250,000 companies.  Check out this resource today with Mason's customized Glassdoor portal.

Glassdoor resource for George Mason students