Female talking to a male during an interview

You have perfected your cover letter and resume and the employer requested an interview.

Quite simply, a job interview is a formal meeting in which one or more persons representing a potential employer, questions, and/or evaluates a potential employee. It is the responsibility of the job candidate to respond to questions in a manner that positively connects personal skills, values, education, and interests to the duties and responsibilities of the available position.

Check out the Interviewing Guide (PDF), created by Miami University Career Services, Oxford.

Now What Should You do to Prepare? 

Know Yourself

Ask yourself some questions

  • What is unique about me?
  • What skills do I bring?
  • What experiences are important for me to highlight?

Know Your Skills

Communication & Interpersonal Skills

Effective communication and interpersonal skills are important qualities in a candidate. Employers look for your ability to organize your thoughts and communicate effectively. Think about situations where you have

  • expressed ideas clearly (written and verbal).
  • persuaded others through your ideas.
  • brought out the best efforts of individuals in your team.
  • handled conflict and stressful situations.


Leadership comes in many forms and is a valued quality. Employers look for leadership qualities for all positions. Think about how you have

  • been self-directed to start a project.
  • guided and directed others to complete objectives.
  • taken action to complete a goal.
  • recognized what needs to be done and how you completed it.

Computer Skills

  • industry specific
  • office software
  • social media

Enthusiasm & Energy

Qualifications are important, but are you enthusiastic and excited about the position? Your enthusiasm, energy and knowledge about an opportunity or organization can impress an employer.


Employers value candidates that can expand and change along with their companies. Applicants receptive to new ideas and concepts are highly valued by employers. Think about how you have

  • adapted to new situations and ideas.
  • dealt with difficult problems.

Other Skills to Consider

  • decision making
  • organization
  • problem solving
  • teamwork
  • time management

Know Your Education

Some employers feel GPA indicates a motivated and goal-oriented candidate. However, there's more to education than grades.

  • Related coursework
  • Projects and independent study
  • Internships / co-ops
  • Campus involvement
  • Specific times you displayed an effective understanding of a task
  • Skills learned or developed quickly
  • Contributed original ideas

Know the Employer

It is very important that you research companies or nonprofit organizations before the actual interview. Employers expect that you will be familiar with their

  • mission
  • values
  • strategy
  • overall performance
  • marketplace trends

Be Prepared to Ask Questions

When interviewing, you should ask related questions. The suggested research options should help you gather information to help formulate meaningful questions. 

Start with the employer’s website

First and foremost, what does the company or organization do? Do they sell something? Provide a service? How many employees do they have? Who are their competitors? Where are they located? What is the company’s history? Read the company’s mission statement or vision.

Search Online

Google the company to see if you can find any articles in various periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, or The New York Times.

Check out the company research links on related websites

Sites like OneSource and LinkedIn can be a wealth of information.

Re-read the job description

Gather as much information about the position as you can before the interview and ask for the key duties to be explained during the interview.

Know How to Dress and Business Etiquette

It is also important you dress appropriately for interviews. A professional appearance can help you make a good first impression. A dark suit (navy blue, black and dark grey) is best. Coordinates are also acceptable. Jeans, t-shirts and flip-flops are NEVER appropriate. Employers may request business casual attire (dress pants / khakis and button-down shirt / blouse). If you are unsure, you should dress more professionally.

Don't be Late

Arrive 10-15 minutes before your interview time. First impressions are lasting; don't allow being late cause an employer to create a negative impression.

Professional Communication

Respect is a key component in a successful interview. Use appropriate and professional language (avoid excessive "likes," "ums" and "you knows"). Remember to thank the interviewer at the end of the interview.

Follow Up

Send a thank-you card, letter or email within 24 hours of your interview. Sending a follow-up message shows your gratitude and helps maintain a relationship with the employer.

Optimal Interview Prep

Use Optimal Interview Prep to maximize the effectiveness of your intern and job interviews.

The interview prep module of Optimal Resume makes it easy to refine your interviewing skills from the comfort of your own room or apartment. You control all aspects of the interview practice session, including the interview type, the number of questions, your response format, and the interviewer.

There are four ways to record your interview responses

  • spoken (microphone required) and video recorded (webcam required);
  • spoken only (microphone required);
  • written;
  • and no response.