Getting started – how to prepare for an interview

Research How to Interview
Get assistance through UNM Career Services. Attend an interview workshop, meet with a Career Development Facilitator, and read material (such as this handout) on interview skills and preparation. Schedule a mock interview through Career Services and practice with friends, family and even in the mirror.

Self-Assessment
Conduct a careful self-assessment of yourself. Review your resume with a particular focus on experience related to the position at hand. Objectively evaluate your qualifications, skills, goals, interests and abilities, both inside and outside of the classroom, and think about how they contribute to the position for which you are interviewing. Anticipate your weaknesses and decide how you will respond to any questions that dip into this territory.

Research the Field and Employer
Learn all you can about the company and position for which you will be interviewing through the company website and literature. Pay particular attention to annual reports and mission statements, as this can provide a direct “window” into the organization. If you are finding it difficult to find information on the specific position, you can still interview successfully if you have a realistic and confident knowledge of your strengths and a thorough knowledge of the field. Informational interviews with alumni or professionals in the field are a great way to acquire information from similar organizations.

Develop an Interview Strategy
Based on your self assessment and research, identify the qualifications and criteria the company will look for in an “ideal” candidate. Develop a list of five “success stories;” instances in which you’ve been particularly effective and proud of your performance. You have no way of knowing exactly what questions will be asked of you, but if you have five strong examples prepared, you’ll have them immediately available to draw upon in your answers. Additionally, find out who you will be interviewing with, for how long, and the anticipated format. This information will help you prepare by giving you a sense of the “flavor” of the interview. A 30-minute interview with a human resources representative will have a completely different feel than a half-day interview with a departmental hiring manager, and requires different preparation.

Practice Commonly Asked Interview Questions
You have no way of knowing what specific questions will be asked of you during an interview. However, there are certain questions that are asked in nearly every interview, such as:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in working for us? What do you know about us?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your short term/long term goals?
  • Why are you the best candidate for the position?
  • What questions do you have for us?

For a further list of commonly asked questions, see “Questions An Interviewer May Ask” section. Scheduling a mock interview with Career Services provides you a “trial run” of answering commonly asked questions across industries.
Prepare Your Interview Questions
Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer, avoiding those that could be answered by your initial research. Demonstrate that you have done your homework on the company and the position (asking when the company was founded when it is clearly shown on its website is not a good question). You want to acquire information that will facilitate your own decision-making and demonstrate you can ask relevant and thoughtful questions. See “Questions to Consider Asking an Interviewer” section for specific questions.

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