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Preparing for a Job Interview

This resource was written by Allen Brizee.
Last edited by on May 4, 2010 .

Summary:
This resource will help you prepare and rehearse for a job interview.

What is a job interview?

A job interview is a meeting between you and an employer. An interview lets you learn more about the job and the company. Interviews also let employers learn about you.

Why do I need to do an interview?

Employers consider the interview the most important part of the hiring process. The interview allows you to make an in-person impression on your potential employer. This impression can be good, but it can also be bad. So even if you have a good cover letter and résumé, you will have to do well during your interview in order to make a positive impression. Remember the old saying:

“You only have one chance to make a first impression.”

How do I get ready for my interview?

There are a few easy but very important steps you should complete to prepare for your job interview:

1. Research the company and the job so that you can answer (and ask) detailed questions about the organization and the position. Find out as much as you can about the company. Here are some questions to answers (this list was modified from Job Interviews for Dummies):

Organization (use the Internet, the library, the job ad, and local state employment agencies)

 - What does the company do, and what services does it provide?
 - What is the company’s mission?
 - What are some of the company’s goals?
 - How many employees does it have?
 - Is it local, or does it have multiple locations?
 - Is it a union shop?
 - What are some of it newest products or projects?
 - Who are the company’s competitors?
 - What types of employees does the company hire?
 - When was the company established?
 - What is the company’s financial status?

Job (use the Internet, the library, the job ad, and local state employment agencies)

 - What is the job, and what will you have to do?
 - What are the daily responsibilities?
 - What sort of physical labor is involved?
 - What sort of technology or computer labor is involved?
 - Is the location of the job different or the same as the company’s location?
 - Is there travel involved in the job? If so, is it long distance and how often will you be expected to travel?
 - What sort of past experience will you need?
 - What sort of specific skills will you need?
 - Does the job call for any special licenses (Commercial Driver’s License), certification, or training?
 - What sorts of benefits are related to the job, and what is the salary? You may not be able to find specific answers for these questions. But it is good to have a general idea of salary and benefits for the type of job you want.

Remember that you can contact the company directly to find answers to most of these questions.

2. Review your résumé and cover letter and be able to speak in detail about your accomplishments and how you can help the company.

3. Practice your interview with someone. Have your friend use the interview questions below. Your mock interviews should cover every part of the interview. You should wear the same clothes, hairstyle, and jewelry you will wear at the interview.

Mock interviews will help you answer questions. Rehearsing also helps relieve stress.

Common Interview Questions

Some of the most common interview questions are (this list was adapted from wisebread.com):

 - Tell me about yourself
 - Why are you looking for a job?
 - Why did you leave your last job?
 - Why do you want to work here?
 - What sort of skills do you have that match our needs?
 - What sort of training do you have that matches our needs?
 - How do you work under stress and with deadlines?
 - How would you describe your work ethic? (Translation: employers want to know what motivates you to do a good job)
 - What are your strengths and weaknesses?
 - I notice that you have some time on your résumé where you were not working. What were you doing? (This is especially important to rehears if you have been incarcerated)
 - Do you work better in a team or by yourself?
 - Describe a past situation where you did something positive for an employer
 - How do you work with people you do not get along with?
 - Are you willing to put the company’s needs ahead of your own?
 - Please explain why I should hire you
 - Do you have any questions for me?

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