Interview Skills

An interview is an opportunity to convince an employer that you have the skills, experience, knowledge, and qualities to do the job in question. Explain how you will help the organization and why you specifically want to work there. Find out if this organization or job is the right match for you.

What an Employer Wants to Know:

  • “Why do you want to work for us?” (Why are you interested in us?)
  • “Why should we hire you?” (What can you do for us? What are your skills?)
  • “What are you like as a person?” (Personal qualities, strengths, weaknesses, cultural competency, motivation)

Prepare for the Interview

Evaluate

  • Evaluate how your education, skills, experiences, strengths/weaknesses, and past successes/failures will meet the employer’s needs
  • Identify your top 5 skills for the job (What would your boss say are your strengths? What makes you different?)
  • Identify 5 different scenarios that demonstrate those skills (a class project, volunteering, student org, etc.)

Research

Know what the company does
A student meeting with an employer at UNH's Resume Review Day
  • Review the company’s webpage to better understand the company focus
  • Follow the company on social media (LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Talk to anyone who may be knowledgeable about the company
  • Use one of the many UNH Dimond Library Business & Economics databases to research companies
Diversity Indicators
  • What does the leadership team look like? Is it a diverse group of people?
  • Do you see people who look like you represented at this organization?
  • Is there any mention of diversity, equity, inclusion, or social justice?
  • Does this organization openly support social issues that are important to you? (i.e. Black Lives Matter?)
  • Do they have any employee affinity groups, and if so, are any of particular interest to you?
  • Does the organization have a clearly articulated plan or mission to diversify their pool of employee candidates?
Culture Indicators 
  • Are there alumni you can reach out to on Wildcat Connections or LinkedIn?
  • Do you see organization-wide initiatives that speak to your values? (for example, sustainability practices, affinity groups, philanthropic pursuits)
  • From their social media presence, what stands out in terms of work culture? Does this appeal to you?
  • Do you see yourself being able to grow professionally in this environment?

Practice

  • Make an appointment with a Career Advisor from the Career and Professional Success team for a practice interview, or practice a video interview with InterviewStream, a free interview training service available to all UNH students 24/7!
  • Practice answering questions on your own, out loud
  • Ask a roommate, family member, or friend to perform a practice interview with you. Be sure to choose someone who will take on the interviewer role in a serious fashion

During the Interview:

  • Arrive 5-10 minutes early, have extra copies of your resume and your list of references
  • Make a good first impression
    • Turn off your cell phone
    • Smile, offer a firm handshake, make eye contact and introduce yourself using your first and last name
    • Establish yourself immediately as prepared and confident
  • Keep answers brief and to the point ― If in doubt, you can always ask, “Does that fully answer your question?”
  • If you lack experience in an area the interviewer asks about, say so, but go on to describe similar experiences or examples indicating your willingness and ability to learn new things
  • Never bad-mouth previous employers or co-workers
  • Your interviewer may ask if you have any final questions or comments ― Take that opportunity to ask thoughtful questions or make a final, compelling personal sales pitch. Express confidence in your ability to succeed at the job and your excitement about the opportunity
  • At the close of the interview, get the interviewer’s business card and offer another firm handshake ― Ask about the next steps in the interview process
  • Above all: show interest, be pleasant and enthusiastic

After the Interview:

  • Always send a thank-you note or email within 24 hours
  • Keep it short, thank them for their time, express interest in the position and company, and make or a remake a key point(s)
  • Proofread before sending

Types of Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What specific skills can you bring to this job?
  • What can you tell us about our company?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • How has your college experience prepared you for a career in this industry?
  • What are your experiences in working with people different from you?
  • Have you completed any internships? What did you gain from the experience?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in a company like ours?
  • What are your short-range and long-range career goals?
  • What is the salary range you are seeking?
  • Case questions, though often hypothetical and focused on the future, are based on real problems or situations encountered in the particular field of the organization interviewing you. 
  • By using case questions, employers can get a sense of your analytical and reasoning skills, problem solving abilities, and your ability to organize and present information.
  • Though there may be many ‘right’ answers to case questions, your goal is to maintain your composure, be articulate, and show that you can think on your feet. 
  • Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Be ready to provide specific examples of past situations and your involvement. 
  • Frame your example using S.T.A.R.:
    • describe the situation or task you are involved in (set up the story),
    • your actions,
    • and the results or outcomes of your actions

Common Behavioral Interview Questions:

  • What was your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you handle it?
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • Give me an example of a team or group project where you had to work with people from different backgrounds.
  • Describe the most significant written document, report, or presentation that you’ve completed.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Talk about a time when you had to "sell" an idea to your coworkers. How did you do it? Did they "buy" it?
  • Which accomplishment on the job gave you more satisfaction than any other?
  • What is your commitment to diversity?  Tell me about a time when you demonstrated this commitment.
  • Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  • Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you dealt with a very upset customer or coworker.
  • Tell me about a job experience in which you had to be assertive in order to get a point across that was important to you.
  • What experiences have you had at UNH that exposed you to diversity?
  • Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Tell me about a mistake and what you learned from it.
  • Sometimes it's easy to get in "over your head." Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on a project or assignment.
  • Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why was this person difficult? How did you handle that person?
  • To see a longer list of potential interview questions, visit: Quint Careers
  • What programs are currently in place to promote inclusion?
  • Are your employees required to participate in a facilitated social justice and/or diversity, equity, and inclusion training?
  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job? 
  • What are the attributes of your most successful employees in this position?
  • Could you describe your company's management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?
  • Why did you choose to work for this company?
  • What kind of internal and external training do you provide new employees?
  • How would you describe your company culture?
  • How does your company support diversity in the workplace?
  • What are the performance expectations for this job and what is the time frame for advancement?
  • What are your organization’s goals for the next 3 – 5 years?
  • What do you most enjoy about your work with this organization / company / agency?
  • “Tell me about yourself.” This is an opportunity to briefly highlight skills, education, and experience that the employer is seeking, and to let the employer know why you are interested in the job and the company.
  • “Describe a weakness.” Pick one rather harmless problem from the past that you’re now overcoming. Some people describe a strength that’s gone a bit overboard, such as a tendency toward overwork or perfectionism. Be sure to finish your answer with how you’re making it better.

Interview questions should relate to the job you are seeking and your ability to perform the essential functions of that job.  If asked an illegal question:

  • Address the concern behind the question and respond with an answer that applies to the job. For example, you’ve been asked an illegal question if the interviewer asks “Are you a U.S. citizen?” You could respond with “I am authorized to work in the United States.”
  • Illegal vs. legal questions

Phone & Video Interviews

Get Ready

  • Be prepared for the interview
  • Have a copy your resume on hand
  • Have a pen and paper in case you need to write something down
  • Keep a glass of water nearby in case you need it

Space

  • Make sure to plan where you will be for the interview
  • Make sure it is a quiet, uninterrupted space
  • If you are in a shared space, make sure to let others know, so you will not be interrupted

Speech

  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Be aware of saying um, uh, etc, it will be amplified in these settings
  • Try not to interrupt the interviewer
  • Practice with a friend to see how answering questions feels over the phone
  • Consider using a landline to avoid potential cell phone service failure
  • Smile, even though they can't see you, it will help the tone of your voice
  • Sit at a desk or table with your material spread out in front of you
  • Sitting upright will help you project your voice more clearly than if you are lying on your bed or couch

Program

  • Most employers will use Skype for video interviews
  • Make sure to download Skype (or the correct program) and log in
  • Test your video by test-calling a friend
  • Test your volume settings for both your microphone and speakers

Space

  • Make sure to plan where you will be for the interview
  • Make sure it is a quiet, uninterrupted space
  • If you are in a shared space, make sure to let others know, so you will not be interrupted
  • Have a clean, neutral background
  • Keep the desk in front of you neat

Practice

  • Practice with a test video call to a friend to see how it will feel

Dress

  • Dress professionally as if you were meeting face to face with an employer
  • Dressing professionally with allow you to switch into that mindset, rather than lounge mode with your sweatpants
  • Review: What to Wear below

During the Interview

  • Look directly at the camera, rather than the screen - it will look more like eye contact rather than staring off in space
  • Try not to move around too much, moving around will show much more on the screen than in person
  • Make sure to have good posture and look relaxed
  • Don't forget to smile and stay present
Helpful Tips for Video Interviews: Find a Quiet Space, Be Prepared, Dress Professionally as if you were meeting in person, Speak Slowly, Look into the Camera

What To Wear

First Impressions
Your appearance is important because it is the interviewer’s first impression of you. 
  • Be professional, neat, clean, and well-groomed
  • Being overdressed is better than being underdressed
  • Clothes should be clean and wrinkle-free
  • Test-drive your outfit to ensure you are comfortable moving, sitting, standing

Research the companies you are applying to. Review LinkedIn, Instagram, and connect to your network to understand the company culture.

 Suits
Style
  • Stick to matching pieces of consistent material and style
  • Suit separates can include pants, skirt or a dress
  • A single-breasted suit is more appropriate than a double-breasted suit
  • Two or three-button jacket with the bottom button unbuttoned
  • A buttoned-up suit vest in place of a suit jacket is acceptable as well

Color/Pattern
  • Solid colors such as gray, navy or black are the best options for an interview
  • Plaid, pinstripe or patterned suits are not interview appropriate 

Fit
  • The back should lay flat and not pull or bunch
  • Shoulder seams should line up with the edges of your shoulders
  • Sleeves are comfortable, not too tight or loose
  • The buttons on the front should comfortably button and not pull or bunch
  • Cuffs should rest half an inch above the wrist allowing a bit of your long-sleeved dress shirt to show
 Tops
Shirts
  • Long-sleeved, collared shirts are classic
  • Collar should fit your neck without being too tight or too loose
  • Always tuck the shirt in unless it has an elegant finish

Shirt Color/Pattern
  • A solid, neutral color is best

Shirt Material
  • A cotton material will allow you to breathe

Blouses
  • Dressy in a comfortable material
  • Always have a conservative neckline
  • Tuck into skirt or pants
  Neckties and Bowties
Style/Knot
  • Keep the knot simple

"Learn How to Tie a Tie"


Color/Pattern
  • A simple color or pattern to compliment the suit and shirt
  • The tie should be a darker shade than the shirt

Width/Length
  • Width should not be too wide or skinny
  • Length should not be too long or short
  • The bottom tip of the necktie should reach the belt/waistline
 Bottoms
Skirt/Dress
  • Length should be conservative at an inch or two above the knee, but nothing more
  • Stick to the same style and material as blazer if applicable
  • Should be fitted but comfortable to sit and move in
  • Be aware of the slit and make sure it does not pull open

Pants
  • The bottom hem should be rest on top of the shoe without being too high or sweeping the floor
  • Pants should be fitted but comfortable to sit and move in
  • Not too wide or skinny

Pants Style
  • Pants are to be worn on the top of the hips
  • Pleated or non-pleated, non-pleated is preferred
  • The "break" of your pants is the crease that forms at the bottom of your pants when it reaches your shoes
    • There should be some break but not too much

Pants Color/Pattern
  • Match the pants with the jacket
  • A suit (jacket/pants) should be bought as a set whenever possible
 Grooming
Hair
  • Neatly styled hair out of your face
  • Wet hair is never acceptable
  • Sunglasses should not be worn as a headband

Facial Hair
  • Facial hair should be shaved, trimmed, and/or well-groomed
  • Clean up sideburns and back of the neck for a clean look

Body
  • Shower
  • Wear deodorant, but avoid wearing perfume/cologne
  • Clean and trimmed nails
  • Neutral nail polish if applicable

Makeup
  • A minimal natural look is classic
  • Neutral tones are acceptable
  • Stay away from bright eye shadow, blush or lip products
  • No shimmer or glitter
 Accessories
Amount
  • Accessories should be at a minimum

Jewelry
  • Simple jewelry and a watch are acceptable
  • Nothing long or distracting
  • Think 1:1:1 (example: one bracelet, one necklace, one ring)

Watch
  • Wear a watch if you feel comfortable wearing it
  • Make sure the style matches the outfit
    • Not too casual like an athletic watch or something too fancy and distracting like a smartwatch

Belt
  • A belt to keep your pants at your hips
  • Coordinate the color with your shoes

Portfolio
  • A portfolio (leather or otherwise) is a must
  • Bring extra copies of your resume in this portfolio
 Shoes
Style
  • Pumps or flats are good choices
  • Shoes should be clean and polished

Color
  • Should be in a dark color coordinating with your suit/outfit
  • Black or brown shoes are the most common

Heel Height
  • Must be comfortable to move in
  • Should be under 2 inches

Socks
  • Socks should match the general color of the shoe 
    • ex. brown shoes = brown socks
  • Do not wear white socks with brown or black shoes

The Career and Professional Success (CaPS) team, joining with the Civil Rights & Equity Office, is committed to supporting and responding to concerns of discriminatory harassment, sexual violence and/or sexual harassment, bias, hate crimes, bullying or retaliation. If you as a student or alumni have experienced or think you may have experienced any form of such conduct, please report the incident to UNH’s Affirmative Action and Equity Office here and/or contact the Career and Professional Success team at caps@unh.edu, (603) 862-2070, or reach out directly to a trusted member of the CaPS team. Together, AA&EO and CaPS will work with you to address the matter and offer the support you may need.