Interview preparation

Services and resources to assist in your interviewing

Mock interviews
-Take this opportunity to polish up your interviewing skills with a professional recruiter. Come by the Career Services Office for more information and to sign-up. Offered fall term only. Limited space available. Register early.

Interviewing tips workshop
- Presents information on preparing for and participating in an employment interview. You will learn job-winning tips and the "dos and don'ts" of successful interviewing.

Individual counseling -
Speak with a counselor about the best interview strategies for your industry and tips on formulating your answers.

HR World.com - Page provides links to tips, information, and checklists to prepare for an interview.

Before the interview

Your success or failure will be based in large part on the degree to which you are willing to prepare for the interview. The following offers a guide for readying yourself for the upcoming challenge:

Do your homework
  • Research the employer, the position, and the industry or field.
  • Become familiar with the products, services, etc., of the organization.
  • Review mission statements, annual reports and company literature.
  • Become familiar with the employer's organizational structure, parent companies, subsidiaries. etc.
  • Read current periodicals and trade journals to learn about current trends in the field.
Practice interviewing
  • Review the list of commonly asked interview questions and behavioral interview questions. Develop and rehearse your answers.
  • Participate in mock interviews and meet with a counselor to review your interviewing strategy.
  • Role play your interview with a friend to make sure your answers make sense.
  • Practice your firm handshake, good eye contact, positive facial expressions, and good posture.
The day before
  • Make sure your interview attire is wrinkle-free and appropriate.

  • Drive to the location of the interview. This ensures that you know where it is and how long it takes to get there.

  • Make sure you are well groomed (nails, hair, etc.).

  • Store the phone number of the person with whom you are interviewing or the office phone number in your cell phone. In case of an emergency, you will have their number on hand
General tips on interviewing
  • Arrive ten minutes early.

  • Bring with you a copy of your resume, references,and a pen. Place them in a folder or a portfolio.

  • Always shake hands during the introduction and thank the interviewing for his/her time.

  • Don't call the interviewer by his/her first name unless directed to do so.

  • Be sure to get the correct spelling of the person's name and his/her exact title and send a thank you note within a day or two.

  • Don't try to dominate the interview. Let the interviewer guide the questions.

  • Always pay close attention to the question being asked. Ask for clarification if needed, and be sure to answer the question completely.

  • Refresh your memory regarding your resume, achievements, and situations (see informational Interviewing) during the last several years.

  • Conclude the interview by asking about the time frame for the hiring decision and what, if anything, can you do to further assist the interviewer with your application.

  • Always, always, always send a thank-you note.

Interview attire

General tips for everyone
  • If uncertain, err on the conservative side. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  • Be well groomed and neat. Iron your clothes, polish your shoes, and cut and/or clean your fingernails.
  • Avoid wearing too much cologne or perfume.
  • Avoid wearing too much jewelry.
  • Wear dress shoes only (no casual shoes or sandals, or loafers).
Business casual

Business casual is acceptable to wear to work if the employer allows, but it is less accepted by employers and recruiters during an interview. Unless told explicitly to dress in a relaxed casual fashion, do not wear business casual during the interview process. As a general rule
  • Wear Business Casual to networking events, less formal organization parties, mixers etc.
  • It does not include jeans, shorts, t-shirts etc.
Men - nice slacks, a button up collar shirt and tie (optional).
Women - nice slacks or skirt with a nice cotton or silk blouse.
These are general guidelines; Use good judgment and, if uncertain, ask for guidance from someone whose opinion you trust.

Tips for Men
For most professional interviews, keep these points in mind:
  • Wear dark traditional suits with a white, long-sleeved shirt (even in the summer).
  • Shirt cuffs need to extend slightly below the jacket sleeve.
  • Your tie should be a conservative color that coordinates with the suit and reaches to just above the belt buckle. Overly colorful and loud socks should be avoided.

  • Your socks are a dark color that coordinates well with the suit. Overly colorful and loud socks should be avoided.

  • Wear dress shoes only (no casual shoes, loafers, etc.) and polish them beforehand.

  • Shave and trim your facial hair. The "scruffy" look is not appropriate for an interview.
  • If you have to ask if it (your hair, facial hair, shoes or clothes) is appropriate, be on the safe side and change.
These are general guidelines; in some instances the business suit may not be appropriate. Use good judgment and, if uncertain, ask for guidance from someone whose opinion you trust.

Tips for Women
For most professional, business interviews, keep these points in mind:
  • Wear a dark traditional suit (skirt or pant) or a professional dress (other than lacy type of dress).
  • Your skirt should be at least knee length.
  • Pants should not be too tight.
  • Where a cotton or silk blouse that coordinates well with the suit. DO NOT wear a lacy camisole or low cut spaghetti strap.
  • Wear close-toed pumps with heels no higher than 3". Make sure they are comfortable to walk in for long distances.
  • Select conservative hosiery in a neutral color without decoration or a lot of color.
  • Make sure your nails are manicured and polish is clear or neutral.
  • Minimize jewelry and makeup.
  • Your purse should be small and coordinates with the outfit.
These are general guidelines; in some instances the business suit may not be appropriate. Use good judgment and, if uncertain, ask for guidance from someone whose opinion you trust.

What to expect during an interview

General interview format
1. Introductions
2. Clarification of your resume
3. Employer's questions for the applicant
4. Applicant's questions for the employer
5. Closing

Do not be surprised if the employer has multiple rounds of interviewing.
Employers may receive 1000's of resumes for 1 position.

Many will use this "weed out" process:

1. Removal applications based on resumes. Those with typos, grammatical errors, and which appear to not meet qualifications are removed.

2. 1st Round interviews (the long list). Employers ask questions to evaluate compatibility, interests and skill sets of applicants.

3. Final interviews (the short list). Employers meet with candidates in an effort to choose the candidate who is most qualified for the position. Usually based not only on skills and achievements, but also on the "best fit" in terms of personality, company goals, and needs of the organization.
Behavioral interviewing
What is behavioral interviewing?
Behavioral interviewing is an interview technique that uses past behavior as a predictor of future behavior on the job. The process of behavioral interviewing is much more probing than traditional interview questions.
How to answer questions
During a behavioral interview, your answers need to be specific and detailed. Tell the interviewer a specific situation that relates to the question, not a general one. To help in your interviewing remember STAR.

Situation or Task- Describe the situation or task

Action - Tell specifically what you did

Result - Describe the result


Examples of behavioral interview questions

1. Give a recent example of a situation where you had to convince someone to see your point of view.

2. Give an example of a time in which you had to reach a decision under pressure and tell how you handled the stress.

3. Describe a time that politics at work affected your job. How did you handle it?

4. Give a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.

5. Describe a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.

6. Describe the most significant or creative presentation which you had to complete yourself and describe a time you had to do the same with a group.

7. Give an example of an important goal which you had set in the past and tell about your success in reaching it.

Commonly asked interview questions

1. Tell me about yourself.
2. Why did you choose Furman?
3. Why did you choose your major?
4. Which classes and subjects did you like the best? Least? Why?
5. Do you think your grades are a good indication of your academic ability?
6. Describe your most rewarding college experience.
7. Have you participated in extracurricular activities? What have you learned from them?
8. What do you like to do in your free time?
9. What do you consider to be your major strengths and weaknesses?
10. How would a friend or a professor who knows you well describe you?
11. What accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction?
12. What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it?
13. What have you learned from some of the jobs you have held?
14. What job have you enjoyed the most?
15. What kind of work environment do you prefer?
16. Why did you decide to seek a position with this firm/organization?
17. What do you know about this firm/organization?
18. What criteria are you using to evaluate a particular firm/organization?
19. What factors are important to you in a job?
20. What are you looking for in a supervisor?
21. Do you have a geographic preference?
22. Are you willing to travel?
23. How do you handle pressure?
24. How do you evaluate success?
25. What are your long-term goals?
26. Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?
27. Why should I hire you?
(Additional interview questions are available in the Career Services Office.)

Questions to ask during an interview

Asking well-formulated, intelligent questions demonstrates your knowledge and interest in an organization. It is essential to do your homework and avoid asking for information that is readily available in the employer's literature. Here are some questions you might ask of the interviewer:
1. What is the typical career path of someone who starts out in this position?
2. How much contact and exposure to clients/customers is there?
3. How often are performance reviews given?
4. What issues or concerns are facing this department/firm now?
5. What are the goals for this department/firm for the upcoming year?
6. What new projects has this department/firm/organization undertaken recently?
7. What are the next steps?
(Additional interview questions are available in the Career Services Office.)

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